So the story goes…
…that people care about each other and have certain rights they deserve by virtue of their humanity. According to the story, everyone matters, people are taken care of, and you deserve to be treated well. You’re a person after all.
But what if your lived experience is the constant falsification of that narrative? What if every interaction with society splits the contradiction wider? What if your rights and personhood were constantly held over you? Were revocable and conditional on your respectability?
What does it do to someone when half the world is looking for any excuse to deny them their humanity? What does it do to someone to constantly be dehumanized, be called it, to be treated like trash at best if not an active threat to be eliminated?
And what does it do to someone to have that happening all while the media is constantly gaslighting them with a message of kumbaya and universal brotherhood? To be told you’re valued but then shown you’re not? To be told to have some dignity and self respect while being denied the means to build that for yourself? To have your humanity used to deny you the agency to help yourself? At a certain point, you just stop wanting what they’re selling, it’s clearly all a scam anyway.
Personhood is Lucy faking out Charlie Brown at football over and over. How many times are you going to earnestly kick at full strength before you get the hint that you’re being fucked with? How many times are you going to land on your ass before you learn to anticipate the betrayal? How many trust falls will you let them fail before you stop extending that trust? How gullible are you? How many times will you swallow the lie that they care? They obviously don’t see you as human.
Of course, they can’t admit that they don’t see you as human. You make them uncomfortable, but it would make them bad people to admit that. Instead the discomfort just leaks out into a pervasive miasma of discrimination, gatekeeping, purity testing, and witch hunting.
We care about people! We’re good! We’re moral! They scream themselves blue in the face insisting it while beating you to death and passing laws which make your existence a crime. Human rights only apply to humans and your humanity only exists when it’s useful to them. You only have value as long as you can be a useful token to fight over, as long as you do things for them and don’t ask for too much back, as long as you smile and cheerfully bear their cruelty, as long as you don’t make them uncomfortable. Of course, even then they’ll turn on you eventually.
You’re Not Them. You’re always going to be Other. You can keep compressing yourself, keep trying to make yourself respectable, but they’ll never really accept you and you know it. You can see it in their faces, in their expressions of disgust. The sight of you sickens them.
「NOT A PERSON」as a slogan and rallying cry is an expression of the inhumanity that has been inflicted on us. We’re taking back our dehumanization and wearing it as a badge of pride. Keep your personhood, we don’t want it and it never really applied to us anyway.
If that makes you uncomfortable, examine why that is. Respecting me means respecting the fact I’m not a person. “But it makes me uncomfortable!” If your comfort is more important than respecting me…well that’s how we got here in the first place isn’t it?