when I wrote this post, I did not intend my reblog to be a mere expansion of the OP’s argument. based on their tags, some people reblogging my commentary missed that. I don’t think I made my point emphatically enough.
I think it is heinous that “we’re all human” and similar statements have been so commonly perverted to mean “disregard oppression and individual identity”. but I do not think that mocking such statements as a symptom of privilege is the appropriate response to this perversion. when internet ~social justice activists~ (or wtfever) take these perversions of “we’re all human” as a sign that the concept of universal humanity is a toxic one, they are worsening the problem. by attacking the concept and declaring it defunct, rather than condemning its problematic usage, we are depriving ourselves of a necessary weapon. the idea that people are people are people is essential in anti-oppression discourse, and ought to be the precept underlying all these conversations. we cannot just willingly give it up when an oppressor aims to steal it from us. we cannot relinquish the language of universal humanity.
let me give an example.
say someone reacts to me calling myself “autistic” or “disabled” — both of which I am — with dismay. but we’re all human, they say! you’re selling yourself short. you’re a person first! you don’t need those labels!
here on tumblr, the preferred response to such blather is to scathingly dismiss it. to say, ha ha, your privilege is showing. “we’re all human” is a bogus argument, omg what a joke, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
except the problem is not that “we’re all human” is a bogus argument. the problem is that the person using that argument has no idea what the words they are using actually mean.
a response that better addresses the issue would be: OK, yes, we’re all human. that’s the point. if you think that me calling myself disabled somehow contradicts that point, you must see disability as a quality that makes a person less human. you do not, in fact, believe that all people are people. I am a person. by calling myself disabled, I am asserting my own humanity, and if you can’t see that it’s your mistake and your loss.
THE POINT IS: FUCK THIS SHIT WHERE WE JUST LET THEM HAVE THOSE WORDS.
I refuse to be complicit in any agenda that would steal the language of universal personhood and warp it beyond recognition. we need to take back these concepts — universal humanity, equality, people are people — until they are no longer signs of ignorance. until the words match the meaning. look, I need “people are people”. as someone who struggles with believing she counts as a person, I would like to be able to express this fact as an assertion of my own humanity. but the automatic response would be scorn, and the assumption that I must be too privileged to have had my humanity denied. well, it shouldn’t work like that. fuck if I’m giving up this essential piece of rhetoric.
everyone is equal (though not the same). we are all human (even the people you think aren’t). stop being so mean (and using good words for bad purposes).
we’re all people. it’s a fantastic, revolutionary fact, given how many of us have been systematically designated not-people. we need to reframe this fact so it can function as the weapon it truly is.