Blogging against Disabilism Day
I'm just going to lay it all on the line. How many times have we said "I hate it when people (fill in the blank [assume I can't do anything for myself, stereotype me based on a movie, use slurrs about my disability]), then done the same thing to someone with another person with a different disability?
Here are some somewhat fictionalized accounts just to get you thinking. Okay, not all are fictionalized. How many of us with chronic pain who have been on narcotics hated being stereotyped as drug-seekers. We hated it when doctors and/or nurses acted differently toward us than they did toward other patients and we couldn't stand the comments we got when someone found out what we were taking. All we wanted was some empathy. But I'm willing to bet that many of us also felt some tension or frustration or even judgment toward people we thought were intentionally mis-using these medications.
Yet, most of us haven't walked the path of addiction. Some haven't experienced the aggony that is narcotic withdrawal and we don't really know much about addiction. If we stopped and learned, we would still want help for those struggling with addictions, but instead of seeing them through a mind and heart clouded with anger, we might see them as people dealing with a chronic condition.
Another common area where I see ablism within the community of people with disability comes, unfortunately, at a time when we need to be the most unified. This probably isn't going to earn me any popularity points, but I believe very strongly that It's great when we have our needs met, it's fine, even desireable if we're an organization to focus on certain key issues. But sometimes you gotta get out of your own preconceived box and help others out. So maybe blindness groups see that another group with disabilities is in need of advocacy, if there ways of helping, given limited resources (and I believe that some good solid brainstorming could help with this), maybe the blindness organizations can help with this. It goes a long way toward creating more equality for people with all disabilities and it creates goodwill, too.
My last bone to pick is that one size does not fit all. I know, I have said it before. But just as one medication doesn't work for everyone with chronic pain from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, one method of cooking may not work if you're blind. A Guide Dog may be a safer option than a cane. Right now, I can't use a white cane since I use the forearm crutch, for example. We need to be careful that as a community we continue to open more doors for ourselves and others with disabilities. We also need to make sure we aren't shutting other doors along the way. And no Sam, I still don't like ablism.
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