WRITTEN BY SYBELE CAPEZZUTTI
I was raised by a very wise man who never considered my gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation when teaching me how to succeed in life.
I remember an analogy used by my father when I was a teenager, he told me that what people could see outside (my appearance) was like a business card; that was the first thing people saw and a good presentation was important, but a well structured company with something to offer had to follow or the business could not be sustained.
I was taught that who I was, my qualities, achievements, knowledge, character and goals, way surpassed how I looked or if I was married, single, straight, gay, religious or an atheist when it comes to professional development. Not for a moment in my professional life have I ever worried that my success or failure could be linked to anything other than my own effort to be the best I could be at what I do.
I’ve worked in fields that are predominantly male oriented and can honestly say that I’ve achieved more than most men I know, because I wasn’t competing, I was simply being the best I could be … for me.
Now that you know who I am, it will be a little easier to explain why I have such a problem with today’s trend of making everything about gender, sexual orientation, skin color, or religious beliefs.
As we watch the new members of Congress and Senate being confirmed this week, headlines once again focus on the “firsts” as if they were an actual achievement, really?
I would certainly be embarrassed if my claim to fame if elected as a representative of the people was my sexual orientation or my religion, yet, that seems to be more important these days than one’s qualifications!
What makes one’s sexual orientation, skin color, or faith so spectacular?
If you truly want people to be accepted for who they are without prejudice, then why make their non skilled qualities the center of the attention? How about highlighting their achievements instead? The sad outcome of the obsession with identity politics is that it does the exact opposite of what it claims to desire; it labels people and creates more prejudice instead of eliminating it.
So now, according to headlines, we Americans are very lucky to have the “First bisexual congresswoman ever elected”, the “First Muslim woman in congress”, the “First woman to wear a hijab in congress” … aren’t we special? I’m sure that those “qualities” will make them better representatives of the people, right?
This obsession with firsts based on qualities that don’t require personal growth is sending a very bad message to the younger generation! You don’t have to work at being the best at anything anymore, just find a label, stick it to your forehead and voila, you’re special!
I personally couldn’t care less about your gender, your sexual orientation, skin color, or religion! So please, don’t force me to see you only for those qualities!
And if we must be obsessed with firsts….
How about we focus on being first on qualities that actually require an effort to develop?
I want people elected into office to represent me that have been blind to their gender, skin color, sexual orientation or religion as much as I have, people who have worked to develop skills to make them deserving of the position they occupy.
And for the record… bragging about electing someone for their label doesn’t make you special for being so open-minded and accepting, it just makes you the most prejudiced of them all because all you could see was the label.
How I wish I could sit down with Dr. Martin Luther King right now and have a long conversation around his famous quote:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judge by the color of their skin but the content of their character”
Somehow I have a feeling that Dr. King would not be happy with our obsession with “firsts” based on anything BUT character.
Catch up with Sybele’s latest posts on Sybele on the Level!