by Gabrielle (Bri) Rooks '18
For as long as I can remember, image has been everything. What people think about us seems to be the main focus for many. We tend to put ourselves in categories. Sometimes we start to label people before we know them. Say you are walking down the street and you meet someone for the first time. The first thing you probably notice about them is what they look like and what their actions are implying. This automatically triggers us to put a label on them. It so common for us to look for differences that we tend to lose sight of what we have in common. When we see someone with a disability that keeps them in a wheelchair, we automatically start looking at them or treating them differently based on that one thing that “defines” them. The only thing that makes you different from that person is the way you are choosing to look at them. In a community, there are categories that people fall under based on the definitions we have created. For example, there is the higher class, the middle class and the lower class in a community. Looking at a specific community such as a school setting, you find categories for the jocks, the geeks, the popular and so on. Who decides these categories, these labels, these stereotypes? Who establishes the things that define each of us? Well the answer to all this is quite simple — WE DO! We put ourselves in these categories. We are the ones who give each other labels. We are the ones who stray away from what is not “the norm.”
The categories that have been created by others are the ones that help us to stand together. On January 21, 2017 the Women's March on Washington helped the people to put aside their differences and stand together to fight for the rights of all of us. On this special day, we weren’t focused on nationalities, different ethnic groups, different socioeconomic backgrounds. We were all finding ourselves together as part of the human race. We stood together — each unique by race, religion, political beliefs, gender identification, even likes and dislikes. Those are the people who stood together to show not only America, but the world, that human rights are worth fighting for. This was a remarkable day and a day that will be remembered in our history because it brought people together. On this day, we forgot about labels. We stood up for what we believe is right; we reached out to make The United States of America UNITE again. For we are the people and we are the ones who decide what happens next. We fought for the chance to be equal and we did this all by being united.
Something I took away from the Women's March on Washington and the sister Marches was that everyone has a story which moved them to act. Going forward, I will seek to hear other’s stories, I will seek to break down the barriers that we build between each other, I will seek to unite.