I'm a little late with this, but today is Blogging Against Disablism Day...or BADD, as it were. My initial gut reaction was that this is really bad timing, due to the intense focus most blogs with be displaying with the immigration boycott and other labor issues on this May Day. Disability blogging will be lost in the shuffle and receive no attention.
But then I thought, no, this is exactly the day we should be blogging about disablism in our society. Disablism never receives attention. We are so often left out of the whole minority advocacy spectrum. Disablism is often not mentioned in those company disclaimers on the back of their brochures about how they don't discriminate because of race, gender, creed etc., etc. Disablism is the word that causes eye rolls and accusations of going overboard with political correctness and "What's next, blondism? brown eyedism? Crooked teethism?" But, with our essays alongside the many that will surely come up about the immigration issue and the labor issue, maybe people will see the similarities. Hey, if we can somehow piggy back our issues with theirs, we might get some people thinking.
Because, although there are particulars to each ism out there, they all are really about the same issue: oppression. A group in power using an arbitrary criteria such as race, gender, what you believe, who you sleep with, which side of an imaginary line you were born on geographically, or which side of an imaginary line you were born on physically as an excuse to abuse power. That's what all these things are about.
We all know that if you put all the oppressed groups together, the white, male, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied groups that hold the vast majority of the power would become the minority group by far. But, somehow, none of us in the minority can seem to get it together.
Part of this is logistical. Just because the problem of oppression is so widespread that it affects different people in different ways. Immigrants have issues specifically with biased immigration law. Disabled people have issues with access and discrimination predominantly in the hiring process (we don't get hired). Gays have issues with marriage and adoption. But there is much more cross-over than we realize. But each group is focusing on the specific ways that the mainstream culture is trying to make them be "less than" and "other."
I wonder how much of this is sort of caused by the majority culture, either consciously or subconsciously. If we are divided, we can't conquer. Its an old and perfected strategy. Find creative ways that show each of us our place differently, and give us all a different little project to work on so we never have the opportunity to get ourselves together. Even within groups, such as the Disability movement, you'll have factions of blind people over here who want something different than these wheelchair users over here. When I was involved in the University of Kansas's ADA compliance advisory board, the blind people and the wheelchair users argued forever on what kind of bumps were to be put into the curb cuts. Meanwhile, months went by when the universities disability services office was screwing everyone equally well, but we couldn't seem to agree on the bumps. I'm sure the administration breathed a sigh of relief when they read our minutes and found out that we weren't going to challenge them in any real way...all they needed to do was give us a little project dealing with curb cuts. And what next? Oh, maybe something nice and nonthreatening like parking.
Part of this is just natural. No one person can know intimately all the issues that affect gays and immigrants and black people and disabled people and those in third world countries. But we could get together for an honest discussion about the central issue of oppression. bumps and immigration are for subcommittees.
I think we do have a means to bring us together. We all know that there are black, blind people and gay immigrants and Muslim disabled people etc. There are people who can help us bridge the gaps between our little labeled groups, labels that were assigned to us by the majority culture for the most part. We can listen to their stories, and be open to other people with good intentions who want to listen to ours but don't always know the right things to ask or say. We can come together and make a different kind of world were the worth and dignity of every person is valued and we all receive fair treatment. But we are going to have to elicit help from those outside the disability community. Tell them our stories and learn theirs. Essentially, we all have the same story.