Thursday, April 30, 2009

We all do it

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009

We all do it. We don’t mean to, but we do.

The audience and judges sneered when contestant Susan Boyle walked on stage on Britain's Got Talent. When she started to sing, the sneering quickly turned to awe. In the days that followed, discussions took place about how superficial we all were to laugh at her, since it turned out she possessed exceptional talent. The consensus seemed to be that, as Ms. Boyle was an extraordinary singer, it was wrong to snicker at her perceived lack of social graces and unglamorous appearance.

Hmmm…so, it’s OK to laugh at someone who looks different and who doesn’t possess exceptional talent?

A mother with a happy, smiling baby with Down Syndrome overhears other mothers talking in the park, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

A family with a child with Down Syndrome is less graced by God? Really?

On The Tonight Show, President Obama discussed his bowling score of 129 with some self-deprecating humor, "It was like Special Olympics or something."

I wonder….would this thoughtful leader have put himself down in jest by saying "Man, I bowl like a girl!" I doubt it; he knows in his heart one doesn’t put down another or even oneself, by calling someone “a girl.” And, if he slipped, Americans across the country would let him know that girls are not inferior beings.

An article in the May 2009 Diabetes Forecast focuses on the discrimination in employment against people with diabetes. It is an informative discussion about the necessity of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act and its protection of workers’ rights However, the author, almost in hushed tones, seems to need to make the point that people with diabetes aren’t really disabled. They just need the law to have a fair workplace.

What’s so terrible about having a disability, about being in that group? What’s so terrible about needing an accommodation to level the playing field, to do the essential functions of one’s job? The unemployment rate among people who are blind is 70%. Provide accommodation for insulin, snacks, and low blood sugar, but not provide text-to-read programs or Braille accommodations?

Why do we not want to be seen to be like others who are different? Can we not look a little harder to see that we share a common humanity?

Violence against children and adults with noticeable differences is much higher than against those without noticeable differences; it is prevalent in our neighborhoods, our schools, our homes. One Texas institution even ran a coordinated “fight club,” treating their clients like dog-fighting entertainment.

We, of course, don’t condone this violence, we may not even see its enormity. But we need to be aware of it. When people are beaten because of race, religion, or sexual orientation, it’s classified as a hate crime. Can we not demand that beating of people with disabilities be treated similarly?

Legislative opportunities to support our citizens with disabilities abound. The Community Choice Act would allow people the option to receive support services in the home. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the essential human rights of all people. The convention has been open for signatures for more than two years, and 139 countries have signed, but not the United States.

Where are our priorities?


On this Blogging Against Disablism Day, I ask myself – where is my ableism? How do I reflect the deeply ingrained prejudices of my culture? Where am I an ableist in my individual actions? In my community actions?

I give you the same challenge. Ask the tough questions.




This post is part of a worldwide blogging phenomenon, Blogging Against Disablism Day. Be sure to head over to Diary of a Goldfish to read more perspectives on ableism/disablism. Thanks, Goldfish for your extraordinary efforts again this year.

Links: my BADD 2007 post and BADD 2008 post

16 comments:

Wheelie Catholic said...

Great post, David. Raises many good questions we all need to look at.

Attila The Mom said...

Wow---very powerful post, David. So nice to see you again this year!

seahorse said...

Always enjoy reading your well-chosen words and this is a great post for BADD.

Never That Easy said...

Oh David: the more BADD posts I read, the more I realize that there are so many different kinds of ablism, and the more I have to really consider the ways in which I too am guilty. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Cheers, David.
~Person-with-curly-hair ;)

Lisa said...

I blogged about Susan Boyle a couple of weeks ago hereI'm glad someone else saw disablism in the reaction to her.

Nico said...

Great post.

La Coja said...

I love reading your blog especially your posts about going abroad as a person with disability. It be great sometime to talk to you about it

Justine said...

Hi David, I really love your blog! I hope you continue to update!

Normalyn said...

Thanks for sharing...Never judge a book by it's cover is all I can say....

seahorse said...

Hey David, how's life these days? If you have a new blog do let me know, always liked your writing.

rtfgvb7807 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

erinj0 said...

I just happened to stumble upon your blog. I think what you are doing is fabulous - you really force people to think about the things they say and do, and more importantly...how their words and actions effect individuals who may have a disability.

I do hope you continue to blog - I noticed it's been a little over a month. As someone with an invisible illness (and family members with down syndrome) thank you


erinj0

Keith said...

Excellent post David. I have recently started blogging about a similar topic, but more so in regards to my experiences with the public regarding my disability. I'm going to continue to read your blog and if you have time please check out mine. Also, please let me know how you feel about me referencing your blog in some of my posts.

http://keithbonchek.blogspot.com/

Keep changing the world one lesson at a time,
Keith

Madison said...

Someone shared your blog with me today. I also blog about my experiences with a disability. I also have CP.

Daily Living Aids said...

Disabled person are also a Precious part of our Society, So we should respect them and help them to be self dependent.