“We rally for diversity of appearance but flake on diversity of viewpoint.”
-Irshad Manji, Don’t Label Me
Pulling from her own experiences as well as that of Bruce Lee, Ben Franklin and Audre Lorde, Irshad Manji dismantles how the labels we use to define others, ultimately define and limit ourselves. Don’t Label Me deconstructs our use of labels, highlighting how they polarize the very people it was meant to build up.
Manji is a (label warning ahead) professor of moral courage, a lesbian Muslim, Islam reformer, wife, daughter, friend and mother to a blind canine elder named Lily. It’s through Lily’s perspective that Irshad invites readers on a journey self-discovery that deconstructs how labels fence us in, furthering the divide between Us and Them, but more importantly, Manji offers practical advice for bridging the divide and enabling personal accountability for the conversations we keep.
Serious, thought-provoking, challenging, Don’t Label Me is more than an incredible conversation for divided times, it’s a roadmap for navigating the conditions inherent to a heart-centric life. Acknowledging that others have a path as individual and as unique as we are, requires the willingness to practice honest diversity, as Manji notes, “We rally for diversity of appearance but flake on diversity of viewpoint” which can have the effect of an echo chamber, exacerbating the divide between diversity supporters and sceptics. Punctuated by puns that serve to remind the reader that the way forward doesn’t have to be a “zero-sum game, as in for me to win you must lose.” Labels come with generalizations that have the effect of distorting who a person truly is and ignores the layered complexity of the individual.
“America’s founding genius is diversity of thought. Which is why social justice activists won’t win by putting labels… on those who disagree with them.”
Don’t Label Me: available here.