“They don’t have to worry about race. We do. But we’re better for it, men. Let me tell you something: you don’t let anything – nothing – come between us. Nothing tears us apart.”
– Coach Herman Boone, Remember the Titans
The movie is based on the real-life story of a high school football team, the first one to practice integration instead of segregation in America. Needless to say, there were some high stakes and a lot of pressure. This team needed to win, to prove that blacks and whites could work together and be better for it. So when Coach Boone had to rally his team for their first game of the season, he did so by reminding them that they were better and stronger than the other team, thanks to their new diversity. He brought them together, united in spite of any differences. In fact, it was their differences that made their unity so strong.
I recently came across this video on Facebook. It’s about labels, what we call each other and ourselves, and what damage that does to us. I appreciate the sentiment of the video, trying to tear down the things that divide us, help us see that we are all human. However, I think there is something lost in what they’re saying, or, rather, how they’re saying it. They miss the mark, and take it just a little too far for my tastes.
“Labels” may set us apart, but so do our own names. Yes, we are all the same, to a point, but we are all different. I feel no shame in what makes me different from someone else. And there are many things which make me different: my appearance, my religion, my autism, my experiences, my heritage, my interests, my talents, etc.
When I was watching that video, it felt like they wanted us all to be equal… by being identical. Perhaps that is taking what they mean too far, but any virtue taken too far becomes a vice, so I thought I’d raise a voice of caution against that.
As I see it… black and white do exist. We are all different, but those differences are welcomed. We are different, but we choose to share the same fate. We are different, but we are united. We are different, but that just makes us stronger. That is the wonder and potency of equality, and America.
It’s a shame, no, a travesty, no… it is obscene how some people seem bent on tearing us apart.
Still, we don’t have to be without these “labels” in order to be equals. We don’t have to forget where we came from, to love people who are different. We don’t have to be ashamed of what makes us unique, to be united.
The “unity” of identical conformity is worthless, after all.
But the unity of diversity, now, that is powerful.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Remember the Titans (my severe issues against Disney and how they handle race issues aside). You do raise some interesting points about how people are naturally different whether it’s their race, religion, neurological status, etc. I agree that a world where everyone is identical would be boring and problematic. It’s a shame that differences aren’t always welcome. Trust me, I’ve taken the brunt of that in my life and felt less than human. I do wish America would be better at treating everyone equally and it’s a travesty how little progress has been made here. I do want to see a united diversity, but I wish it wasn’t such a pipe dream.
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It’s not only a travesty how little progress has been made. It’s a far worse travesty that what progress has been made is being systematically undone by people who have a vested interest in keeping us at each others’ throats. That makes me especially sad because I come from a culture where we all got along. It wasn’t that big of a deal if you were different, because everyone was different. Races, nationalities, religions, etc., we had pretty much everything, as my hometown was something between being isolated in the middle of nowhere and being an international way station. We had plenty of problems, but none of them, that I recall, were rooted in groups of people hating each other over petty little differences. I mean, I was distinct enough that I was the target of bullying, but, even then, no one ever actually hurt me for it. No one ever actually hated or feared me. I felt weird, but never sub-human. That’s part of why it’s so baffling to me, and so sad, when I see the exact opposite happening all over the place, and it’s been getting worse and worse for quite awhile.
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Thank you for understanding. Whatever progress was there was incremental and even then that’s been rolled back in different ways. It’s great that you were from a town where there weren’t major issues. I grew up in a very diverse area and the neighborhood where my childhood home was in that area could be like the UN with how many ethnic groups and nationalities were there. I’m sorry that you were bullied though. I was bullied for multiple reasons as well. To be honest, I wasn’t really discriminated as much (that I remember) until I moved to another less diverse town during my teens or during my college years. Most of it wasn’t overt, but rather with dog whistle terms in hindsight. I did feel subhuman which still lingers with some things I wanted to change in my past. Seeing so much mainstream movies and TV forwarding those bad stereotypes including stuff I liked as a kid really hurt. I’m not saying hatred disappeared, but I guess it was better hidden when I was younger. I’m glad we can have a civil dialogue about that situation.
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