Saturday, May 21, 2016
This week I went to a disability pride seminar. We were taught the history of disability rights and it was very interesting seeing how many worked to fight for people with disabilities of all kinds. One issue that was discussed was the idea of having disability being part of one's identity. In my case, as far as disability identity goes, there's multiple communities for me, it's not just one simple place of identification having a rare fat disorder, Aspergers and being hard of hearing as well as other challenges. Disabled people can find support among each other and to be frank, it's like the ACON community too on here, where we come together to share our experiences in being there for one another.
One issue discussed was Ableism [the system of discrimination against people with disabilities] and Internalized Ableism, where a person with a disability looks at their own disability creating barriers and confirms negative stereotypes. Disability pride encompasses celebrating one's own uniqueness. We drew posters of ourselves in the middle and our different identities, and aspects of ourselves. I drew in some of my disability "identities" but they were only a few among many which included being a wife and artist. It was a very interesting exercise.
Disability Pride is about the disabled empowering themselves and recognizing what they can do and what they can contribute, and rejects "shame" and the need to "blend in" and conform. There are people out there who still believe disabled people should be hidden away or do what they can to hide their disabilities. They want us silent about our stories and ashamed of being who we are. That is wrong, and it holds way too many people back who could contribute so much to our society. I have brought up the issue of lost talent and contributions in our draconian work world in general but it applies here too.
Disability Pride is also saying one can be part of the community and deserves to be and being able to have access to that community and included in the world.
To be honest the concept of disability pride is new to me though obviously in size acceptance there is a hint of these concepts, in being okay with who you are, accepting yourself and acknowledging who you are outside the judgments and negative conclusions of society. One of my good friends now deceased was in an ADAPT group but I only knew about some of her activism. Disabled people of all kind need a voice. In the group, I discussed how in the 1970s, it seemed there was more of a push to integrate disabled people into mainstream society. In some ways things have improved, where one can see even disabled actors on our TV shows and more but in other ways, things have regressed where people even with minor health problems and challenges who have the ability to work in their case being blocked out of the regular workaday world.
I am getting more involved in the disability rights movement and also in local disabled activities in my community.