Authors of several websites seem weirdly flummoxed by their inability to know how to find the earliest known publication of the phrase: 'it is what it is'. Without answers we humans often seek to fill the knowledge gaps with myths, Hence, one has it that the phrase has its roots in USA Black (1960's) culture.
Another can get back just a couple of decades earlier to a newspaper article of 1949.
Big Data Strikes Again!
In reality, we need only employ the same Big Data ID method that proved Darwin and Wallace committed the world's greatest science fraud when they plagiarised the prior-work of Patrick Matthew (See Nullius in Verba by Sutton 2016) to find the phrase used as early as 1629 in a book by John Gaule, and many times by others in every century since!
Plagiarism and Ignorance - it is what it is in itself!
Curiosity lead me to read the plagiarism item by Dr. Mike Sutton. But maybe it was really providence. It is exactly what I need in order to reply succinctly to an attitude in my profession that, as long as the elitists can claim someone is not as good as they in some way, then they are the best of all in all ways and need not improve substantively, only throw up more fascades to make it look as if they had always measured up to both new and old standards. Thus elitism becomes mere snobbery.
So very late in life I realize that everyone else is superior to me in some way. Each knows something good that I either do not know or do not understand as well. Each can do something good that I either cannot do or not do so well. Thus everyone can teach me to know, understand or do someting that I lack in, and for most things in life I need to rely on others. In the very few things where I am independent, that independence depended on others providing goods and good conditions for me. What proportionate return can I make to this society that sustains me?
I am gladdened to know this little snippet was useful to you.
Your comment made me think of all those TV anthropological documentaries that are currently in fashion where tribal society elders and others teach the sophisticated Westerner how to survive off the land in inhospitable areas.
You are right - of course - we are all parasites. Taking this notion to the extreme, even those who complain about others being "work-shy" and living off the benefits system are living in a society that - by example - is preferable to one less liberal ( if only they knew it).
Finally, had it not been for others publishing their own - now known to be fallacious- accounts of the origins of words or phrases - I would have no one to score points off. I that respect, I am exploiting their previously undiscovered errors.
I think the lesson here is that, whether or not we are right or wrong, if we cannot be effectively exploited for the common good in one way or another - no matter what it is - then what use are we?