Viewpoint: Assigning labels hurts everyone

By Paula Solis

I have a lot of names. I have my given name, Paula Ann Solis, and then there are the less official but still important titles I go by: daughter, sister, friend, American, Mexican, and, my favorite, tía. Then there are the names I’ve been called to bring me down. I will not list them here because they’re not worth mentioning, but there’s one I think people don’t realize I never want to hear: minority.

I am by no means speaking for every person who has been called a minority; some people may even prefer the word. It is used in politics for minority leaders, so what is the problem? I suppose my problem is that the minority leader of some legislative body was elected to their position. I was born into mine.

I would never call someone a majority. It doesn’t make sense to me and there’s probably a more appropriate way of describing them. But people call me a minority and sometimes they paint it to be a compliment.

The term, however, is used in ways that do not make sense to me. When I’m in a room with one other person, he’s white and I’m not, why am I still the minority?

As Baylor’s student body grows in diversity, 33.9 percent “minority enrollment” according to Baylor’s media release, shouldn’t we prepare to do away with a term that mathematically won’t make sense one day?

The truth is, I already know I’m different. I know I don’t have blonde hair, blue eyes and no one in my family before my generation has been to college. But calling me a minority perpetuates this idea that I’m less than and not right.

Minority, by definition, means to be less than the whole. Wouldn’t it be great though if I weren’t less than the whole and just part of it?

Maybe I could stop wondering if I were being invited to the party to fill a quota or if I were being asked to leave because I didn’t blend in?

There is this perfect quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

It has proven true that life’s variety is never-ending. I’m always meeting people unlike any other person I met the day before.

Recently, I met a young man who, scared he would be forced to join a life of crime or be murdered, illegally came to America.

He traveled on top of trains with vapor rub in his eyes so he wouldn’t fall asleep during his long journey and be robbed or killed by other passengers while he slept.

Now that he’s here, he works tirelessly to make enough money so his family back home won’t have to make the same deadly journey.

I guess people here might call him a minority, others might even call him worse names, but it’s a shame. If the best word a person can think of to describe someone willing to work for dollars a day, willing to die for his family, is minority, then maybe the majority isn’t all that great.

Paula Solis is a senior journalism major from Houston. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.