Practice #2: Stop excusing bigotry
We excuse denigrating language against older adults because we believe in fallacies of equality and model minority myths. This is a tool of oppression that keeps us complicit. We believe we’re punching up against people who hold power over us, when we’re really punching down.
- If we maintain the idea that older adults are wealthy and powerful, we don’t have to examine how we’re complicit in their oppression.
- If we view older adults as burdens on society who suck up resources that could go to better use (re: younger people), it’s easier to deny them support.
- If we attribute bigotry and unreasonableness to a person’s age, it’s easier for us to write off valid demands for equality from anyone based on their age.
- If we perpetuate myths that older adults are confused, helpless, fragile, and incompetent, it’s easier for us to ignore their directions on how to help – and decide we know what’s best for them. Saviorism!
As we discussed in the last article on listening to #OwnVoices Olders, stigmatizing older adults because of stereotypes about wealth and power further disempowers multiply marginalized older adults.
As Alice Fisher counters in Old White Men, those old white men decimating support for older people with disabilities aren’t regressive because they’re getting older, they’re bigots despite getting older.