(Mis)matched Labels

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"Don't rely too much on labels, for too often they are fables."

According to Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th-century British evangelist who muttered the above words, labels were nothing but unreliable assumptions and oft-baseless fabrications. Labels, nevertheless, are also the very things we humans often use to characterize each another, are they not? You're fat and I'm skinny. She's an Ivy-Leaguer and he's a high school dropout. My neighbor is a closet racist and your janitor is an undocumented alien. So on and so forth...

But what happens when we deal with pairs or combinations of labels? Sometimes, mixing labels simply does not seem to work because they are a contradictio in terminis regarding our expectations and preconceived notions.

Some examples? An intelligent blonde sounds almost like an oxymoron, largely due to media and cultural slants. A bible-thumping liberal sounds strange, doesn't it? How about a Caucasian NYC cab driver or a Harvard grad working at McDonald's? Not exactly folks you run into on a daily basis. Better yet, how about an Asian guy dating a Black girl?

There are implicit connotations associated with combinations of certain labels, adjectives, or modifiers whereupon any violation of them, however slight, raises eyebrows. It induces questions from the curious among the peanut gallery. Most of the time, people are well-meaning and innocent in their questions and curiosities, even in their elongated stares or goofy inquiries. "Are you two paying together?", asks the cashier at the supermarket, apparently unaware of the one and only cart that previously contained all 35 grocery items that are now amassed in one single pile in front of her face.

A Korean-American guy dating an African-American girl? This is apparently is an oxymoron of sorts, a violation of expectations, and, simply stated, a rare and strange combination. Through this blog, we hope to accomplish two things: 1) that we share our reflections both collectively and individually and 2) that we engage our readers to dare violate their preconceived notions instead of having their preconceived notions violate their expectations.

 

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