Be careful what you label.

Labels are tattoos on your brain. They are impossible to rip, scratch or peel. They can be overwritten. But you’ll need to focus on it like a five-year-old playing Fortnight.

Speaking to a businessman in his office, someone walked in the front door without an appointment. Excusing himself, he met the customer and after a brief, muffled conversation, he returned frustrated. He ranted about the word “brother”. The customer had called him “brother”. He rubbed the top of his bald head and looked at me, and said, “Why do people think I’m their brother? They might as well use the word n*&@r. I’m not their brother. It’s so derogatory and frustrating. It’s ok for two black guys to refer to each other as brother. It’s ok for two white guys to call each other brother. But I ain’t your brother. Do you understand what I’m saying Bro?

Well, did you ever think that brother is just another word for friend? Some use the word pal or man, or bro. Maybe it has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with being friendly.

You don’t know what I’ve seen.

Fair enough. I have similar conversations with my African-American daughter almost every day. She’s 15, confused, scared, and feeling alone in a white town with one other black person. I don’t know, but I know there are lots of people who don’t mean to use hurtful words. They are labeled on their brains.

Yeah, labels. Like cops.

Exactly. Some think all cops are bad. Some think they are all good.
The label is based on whatever reality you experience.
The label is based on absolutes, like everything is binary: black or white, truth or lie, right or wrong.
Your truth has absolutely everything to do with labels.
Yet we forget about those little gray lines between the absolutes.

When we place a label, we use past experiences to form opinions. We stop working together to find a solution. The more we separate from each other, the more we become polarized.

It’s like the song “Signs” by The Five Man Electrical Band.

Written in 1971, the song sees the beauty in the natural world and the songwriter struggles with the labels and limits others place on him. He’s living in a perfect world while everyone else is living inside a box, trying to make everything perfect.

The rebels see the song as a rallying cry. The conformists think it’s a song about rebellion. I think the song is about the removal of labels in order to live a peaceful, enjoyable life.

The labels we use in society are the same labels we try to create for our advertising.
We call them BRANDS.

Labels, brands, and stories are all the same thing.

When a customer labels your business, it’s because of something said or done. Both good and bad.

You have a choice to be labeled as a company that cares and wants to ease the struggle.
Or you can choose to make the struggle worse.

You can control that narrative if you choose to serve all people, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

I’m as guilty as the next person to place labels. My label on the police comes down to the time when Deputy Dingbat assaulted me and threatened to arrest me for being cocky. I wasn’t afraid of him. When I told him I wanted to call my law professor about the manhandling, he let me go.

I’m not black. And I can’t imagine what could’ve happened that day if I was.
Maybe I’m not your “brother”.
I don’t understand the shit you’ve gone through.
But I sympathize with your struggle.
I would love to make it easier for you, if you’ll let me.
That’s what friends do.

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