Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Label, Not a Definition

There’s More to Me Than You See is an event where people get to speak about the labels that have defined them and how there is more to them then meets the eye. All different types of people gave speeches including people who were blind, poverty-stricken, friends of a gay person, Jewish, bipolar, lesbian, and others. They all spoke about their hardships they have faced in the past and the struggles with which they fight to deal, each and every single day.

“The blind student” spoke about how his lack of sight has enabled him to become more understanding. He will let people ask questions about his blindness and answer as best as he can. He has no problem so long as the people do not ask in an obnoxious way. If one comes up to him to ask a question out of curiosity he has no problem with that. The speaker in Lisa Parker's, "Snapping Beans," was too afraid to speak up and tell her grandmother what was on her mind. Had she gotten the courage to do so, she could have been met with an open mind, such as this student does. The next speaker also spoke about how just because a person is different, that does not mean that the person is not willing to help others learn.

The speaker who is “poverty-stricken” told about his hardships of not fitting in with a majority of people at Loyola because he felt that he could not spend as much money on clothes and going out as the other students. When his roommate brought him to the Black Student Association meeting when he was a freshman he was scared and did not know what to expect. He spoke up, asked questions, and learned more than he thought he would. He enjoyed the experience so much that he continued to go and he is now the president of the Black Student Association. He joked that when he tells people that, they look at him funny, and he tells them that he is just “melanin deficient.” In the article, "Serving Up Hope," the deli owners gave the convicts jobs, even though others would not have given them a chance. Just because one is not what people would typically expect, that does not mean that he of she is any less capable of performing the set duties. This student's story involved being a part of something that others would not have expected. There is no way to tell what makes up a person in his or her entirety.

The next speaker (“the friend of a gay person”) used to jokingly call his friends, “fags,” until his best friend confided in him that he is gay. He realizes that he has to be more aware of what he says and does. The slur revolts him and he feels awful that he had ever used it casually. Bharati Mukherjee's, "A Father," told the story of a man who did not expect that his daughter had used unnatural means to become pregnant. The shock led him to act irrationally and kill his grandchild while it was still in the womb. He lacked an open mind and because he did not prepare for the unexpected, it ended badly. Just as this student did not expect his friend to be gay and did not realize what he was saying had offended him, a similar situation happened to the next female speaker.

“The Jewish girl” talked about how people would not expect that a Jewish person would be at a Jesuit school, such as Loyola. She explained that she wanted to go here because it is a good education and she has every right to be here. When someone made an insinuation in front of her that being Jewish was related to being cheap, the person had no idea that she would be offended. Even though one may not think he or she is insulting anyone, there is no way of knowing if there is someone in the crowd who will be offended. Therefore, if no one insulted or even joked about other races, genders, etc., these untrue stereotypes would cease to exist. Stereotyping can make the person to feel isolated and lead to other problems.

“The bipolar girl” started her speech by saying, “Hello, let me introduce myself. My name is… I am a daughter, a sibling, a granddaughter, an athlete, a student, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.” Her disorder led her to go into a spiraling depression which resulted in her recommended leave of absence from Loyola. She was put on a leash so tight that, instead of helping her, it made matters worse. She felt stuck in the label of “bipolar,” as though it were written on her forehead for the world to see. She became paranoid to the point that she thought no one would like her and she did nothing except for try to escape through sleep. She would sleep for 16+ hours a day, where no one could bother her, and where she would not be burdening anyone else. This affected her schoolwork at which she used to excel. The many medications she tried all made matters worse, with side affects that made her moodier and more depressed. It was an unending circle of one bad choice after the other that she could not escape. Today, she has found a medicine that works much better for her, she has returned to Loyola and, though the struggle is not over, she is doing much better. She said, “Life is what you make it. It is up to you to decide how you want to live it.” At the end of her speech, she said, “Let me reintroduce myself. My name is… I am a daughter, a sibling, a granddaughter, an athlete, a student, and I am proud to be me.” At this point, the audience exploded in a burst of applause. She proved that her label was not going to define her, rather, she was going to be in control of her life and how it would pan out. In Langston Hughes, "Formula," the speaker made the point that good things can come from bad situations. Both this speaker and the next proved this to be true.

“The Lesbian girl” told the audience that, when asked to give a speech, she thought she was supposed to talk about being Asian. However, she was told to focus her speech more on her sexuality—a lesbian. She hardly sees that as something that sets her apart from others. She even had a good sense of humor about it. She said, “it’s not like all of the people int the LGBT community is saying, “let’s throw rainbows all over the place.”” She went on to explain that she is not that different from any other person at Loyola. She ended her speech by saying, “even though I am a lesbian, I am still a normal person who does normal activities—and I might even do them better than you.” She demonstrated that she is not some far-off creature set apart from everyone else. Her sexuality is just another part of what makes up who she is as a whole.

The, There Is More to Me Than You See, event consisted of speeches from people ranging from those who are blind, poverty-stricken, and friends of a gay person, to Jewish, bipolar, lesbian, and many more. Though it may not be obvious at first, they all share something in common—they do not let their labels run their lives. They are dealing with their struggles and not letting them get in their way of living their lives to the absolute fullest every day.

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