Appealing to a Universalized Humanity

Appealing to a Universalized Humanity

“Why can’t we all just be humans?” “We all bleed red.” “It’s focusing on difference that divides us.”

Biologically we are all humans, of course. But socially we are members of hierarchically organized groups. Where we are in dominant groups, we are taught to see our perspectives as neutral, objective, and representative of a universal reality; our group is the standard for what it means to be normal or “just human.” Thus dominant group members have the privilege of seeing themselves as outside of any group, and thus able to represent all of human experience. However, when we are in a minoritized group, our group is almost always named. Continually limited to our group identification, we are perceived as capable of speaking only for that particular group; where a “guy” can speak for all guys, a “gay guy” can’t speak for all guys, he is seen to be able to speak only for/about other gay men.

Further, because dominant group members are taught to see themselves


as normal, we assume that people in the minoritized group share our reality. This assumption imposes our reality on them, prevents us from learning more about their perspectives, and invalidates the oppression they experience. Insisting that “we are all just human” in response to evidence of oppression is a way to deny that oppression exists at all and to end any further discussion.

As for insisting that addressing difference is what divides us, dominant and minoritized groups are already divided from one another by virtually every measure, both physically and in life outcomes. In a society in which group difference clearly matters, we suggest that not addressing our differences and pretending that they have no significance serves to hold them in place.

Place Your Order Here!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *