I should state for the record that I don’t think all white people are racist—or that all religious people are queerantagonistic or all men are misogynistic or all non-disabled people are ableist/disabelist etc. When I talk about racism, queerantagonism, ableism/disableism and other oppressive psychologies, I’m talking about prevailing systems and institutions and the people who, wittingly or unwittingly, prop them up and perpetuate them.
Unfortunately, non-racist, non-queerantagonistic, non-misogynistic, non-abelist/disableist, etc. systems and institutions do not prevail in this country. They are exceptional—as are the people who, at the very least, grapple with, question, confront, challenge, undo, excise, abolish, and heal their privileged roles in the various hierarchies. And the proof that they are exceptional rests in the fact that oppressive categories, institutions, peoples, and systems not only exist, but thrive. And beyond thrive, they set the tone for existence.
If the majority of people weren’t participants in and perpetrators of oppressive paradigms, there’s simply no way these paradigms would continue to be so successful.
So my point of view is that it’s isn’t necessary to shout “NOT ALL!” whenever we have these discussions.
We know “not all.” But we’re also aware that even though “not all,” these systems remain entrenched, vicious, overwhelming, and primary.
I just think that if we’re going to employ “not all,” then we should do so when it actually serves justice and topples injustice. It should be meaningful, rather than just an attempt to spare people their hurt feelings.
For example: “Not all” drug dealers and drug users are black or brown (in fact, studies show the opposite), yet, most people arrested for these things are black and brown.
And some people will try to flip it, too, like: “Well, not all Christians are queerantagonistic. You don’t like it when gays are subject to blanket statements. So don’t do it to us.” As though power dynamics are meaningless and the comparison is remotely tenable.
When gay people are kicking straight people out of churches and creating laws that ban straight people from getting married, and bashing straight people in the heads with pipes on the street, then we can talk on a level playing field.
Until then, it’s just: #FalseEquivalence.
I will stop my criticism of the “Not all!” argument only when oppressive paradigms and peoples are actually the exceptions and not the rules.
While I do agree about 99% wholeheartedly with the above, I do find that if anyone has to say “not all!!” then the people who are making their point about oppression/racism/sexism/etc are not making their point clearly for the general uneducated, easily-offended public. I guess I just don’t think you can make a blanket statement saying “Everyone inherently knows ’not all’” without even explaining yourself to some of the lesser-educated people, or those more easily offended. If you’re talking to people on the same level as you/those you know very well/you’re in a class with them, then you can probably assume they know “not all.” But just someone on the street/random conversation/new friends? I wouldn’t assume such.
Let’s say there’s a white, Christian family. They go to a church that is very open, accepts gay members, multi-racial families, etc., but one other family in the church doesn’t happen to like that very much. Does Family 1 automatically get grouped in with “bad” Family 2? No, because they’re part of the “not all,” and they’re probably decent people who just so happen to like the Bible. But that should be defined (not simply understood) when being brought into an argument, so as not to patronize, embarrass, and insult the very people who are on your same side.
I hope that made sense.