Hello, my name is Full Spectrum Mama and I’m an Argher and an Activist.
I’ve been politicized by having “different” children, but I suppose I was pre-politicized by being “different” myself. In the family I grew up in…well, let’s not get into that. Let’s just say it took me a long time to realize that speaking up when something is wrong is not “having a victim mentality!” It’s about seeking justice. Speaking up does not make you the bad guy. It makes you an Argher and an Activist.
The “Argher” label arose when my Meeting Friend and I were commiserating over an injustice and I thanked her for the pleasure of feeling like we always understand each other and she replied, “I can argh with the best of them.”
Well, I appreciate that a great deal!
People with obvious differences from the “norm” and/or the majority – those with visible physical differences, differences of demeanor, skin color differences, some trans people… – don’t have a choice about being noticed. Sometimes that “noticing” takes the form of bias, discrimination, bullying…
People who are activists for animal rights or political justice or against other injustices may be activists for causes that are urgent, but they have a choice.
In any case, there IS injustice in the world.
Sometimes what we need when life deals injustice is someone to say “Argh!” with us. And that can be enough. Actually, we almost always need a fellow Argher -- at the very least to understand and empathize.
There are several sorts of Arghers:
The CO-Argher, who shares your situation;
The WITH-Argher, who just completely Gets your situation;
The GENERAL-Argher, who is compassionate in every way…
…We will not deign to discuss the ANTI-Arghing-Argher, who wants the other Arghers to can it, pronto.
Our fellow Arghers make life bearable when something feels very wrong. But, often, we need more. The “Activist” label arose for me when stupid stuff happened & I chose to call people & institutions out on their discriminatory behavior. Activists seek to be catalysts for change, because the status quo is often unacceptable.
Arghing is private, but Activism is public and often elicits resentment. People generally want Activists to keep quiet and go away so that they don’t have to be inconvenienced by accommodating the equality of ALL.
Activists may be sorted into similar categories:
The CO-Activist, who shares your cause (just about everyone I know who has a “different” child has been shunted into Arghing and/or Activism. As a parent, one basically has no choice);
The WITH-Activist, who just completely Gets your cause and supports it;
The GENERAL-Activist, who is justice-oriented in every way;
The ANTI-Activist, who finds Activists burdensome and pesky.
Liminal people – minorities, people with differences, etc. – often have way more encounters with neurotypical, gender, economic, racial, normative or other privilege. If a given liminal individual (or their parent or partner or other loved one) is strong/brave/privileged/foolhardy enough, he or she may choose to speak up about injustice.
For many reasons, however, we don’t always say something, whether through public Activism or private Arghing. Some of us are non-verbal, some of us are shy, some of us are scared, some of us are tired, some of us are cynical, some are resigned…
We DO always feel it, though; of that you may be sure.
What happens, then, is that those of us who by virtue of our own and/or our children’s and/or our loved one’s differences see more injustice and choose to address it sometimes find ourselves in these positions:
“rebellious” people of color,
“whiney” people in poverty,
“annoying” disabled people,
A.k.a., Arghers and, perhaps, Activists!
The funny thing, vis-à-vis the people who resent Activism, is that the kinds of Arghing and Activising that I am talking about are long-term beneficial to ALL. Sure, it might take some stretching on the parts of certain individuals and institutions. The “privileges” of inequality from which some benefit (and others suffer) may be hard to relinquish, but I cannot hope but believe the rewards would be more than commensurate. Truly, what do we ultimately have to lose by being more inclusive as individuals and communities??
Ideally, as painful as they are, these experiences of talking about and struggling with and negotiating over and even experiencing injustice make us more fully human, more empathetic to others. Once we have experienced injustice, we don’t want ANYONE to suffer.
Take, for example, Hedy Epstein, the 90-year-oldholocaust survivor arrested for protesting against institutionalized racism and violence in Ferguson, Missouri last month. My instant take on hearing about her was: OF COURSE: She has experienced and recognizes injustice…She cannot stay silent, having once escaped being permanently silenced.
She, too, is an Argher and an Activist.
We can be proud to share her proclivities!
Full Spectrum Mama, A. & A.