Ableism: Resistance to Yep, It’s Definitely ThereJul 01, 2020
This is hard to admit and I even feel shame about it, but for many years I, yes, me, cerebral palsy, disability advocate, distanced myself from talking about ableism.
Okay, I would do more than that. I would do that inner eye roll thing when someone brought it up. I really hate admitting this because it was so wrong of me to do.
My resistance was built on denial and my tendency to lean more to my Kumbaya side of peace and love, rather than be fired by the fuel of anger and injustice. However, it really does take both sides to lead an impassioned life of meaning and purpose.
What Exactly is Ableism?
We all are familiar with what racism, sexism, and homophobism means but ableism can seem more elusive. To add to this, a simple google search produces only a little over two million results compared to the 351 million results for racism.
This is the source I used the most to describe what ableism is. Basically, it’s a set of beliefs and actions that discriminate against people with disability because the presence of disability implies inferiority.
Resistance to acknowledging ableism is centered, at least for me, around the pain of how people can be so hurtful and narrow-minded to something that is inherent to our bodies and beings.
How is it that the heart can be so closed off to a difference and unwilling to see diversity as a value?
This is why I feel a particular affinity for the LGBTQ+ community. Sexual orientation is inherent to who one is as someone born with a disability. Can you explain why you’re heterosexual because I can’t? I just know I am.
Refusal to Accept Diversity
Ableism, in its effort to design the world for the able-bodied and abled-minded, is essentially a refusal to accept the diversity of life.
- Accept the different ways of processing the world.
- Accept the various means of accessing life’s paths (steps need not be required).
- Accept the beautiful range of how bodies appear and are formed.
- Accept the magnificent vulnerability that disabilities bring to the world.
My resistance to ableism was intertwined with the collective pain of the world not valuing the diversity that disability contributes.
But denial of ableism doesn’t create curb cuts, accessible buildings, or open hearts.
Ableism is Pretty Much Everywhere
If you’re looking for ableism, you’ll find it. It’s important to keep a balanced vision, which we’ll discuss next week. The goal of recognizing it should always come with the question, “What can I do to open this mind or heart?”
This month we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the ultimate recognitions of ableism. In New York State, we also celebrate Disability Pride month.
What better way to do this than by looking at how we can heal ableism?