Ableism

I’m hearing this term a lot. It seems to mean that a social prejudice exists against disabled people. I’ll buy that. It’s been going on as long as there have been people. I guess it is just now becoming a cause to rally around.

Sure, we should treat all people equally. Wouldn’t that be great? <sounds of John Lennon’s Imagine in background> I’d love it if every time I spoke up about something I didn’t get thrashed to the ground. Seriously, because of my perceived ethnicity and socio-economic status, I am frequently accused of speaking from a place of privilege. Nope, didn’t win a piece of that last Lotto people. Yep, I’m middle class as others define it. I’ll even admit to being a white female as many seem to take umbrage at that too.

I get it. I haven’t LIVED “it” and therefore know nothing about “it.” Well, I’ve lived with disability. So, being able-bodied is the norm and anything else is disabled. I’m not normal because not everything works quite the same way as it does for others. I use elevators, ramps and escalators instead of stairs. I don’t sign up for 5K runs. I spend more time with doctors. I think I glow in the dark. I know I can’t do some things and probably won’t ever do them again.

But, my tribe has not sent me into the forest to die. They actually fight quite efficiently with the doctors who wish I would do that. Speaking of doctors, aren’t they just the very definition of ableists? I mean, they compare you to all their charts and graphs of normal and sit in judgment on why you aren’t. They try to fix you so you can be normal again.

But what if you were never normal according to those charts. Why does everyone spend so much time trying to fix things that may not be broken. Because they can’t accept that “not normal” may be as okay as it gets. I think that’s the heart of the ableism issue. Why are we trying to fix what isn’t necessarily broken?

I read a blog today about a permanently disabled wheelchair using bumping into two temporarily disabled wheelchair users on a bus. The temporary users where complaining about stairs and such and stating they couldn’t wait until they could walk again. They were visiting the land of disability.

I’m not visiting. I’m not a tourist. I’m not even lost. This is my normal. This is what being disabled feels like to me. You won’t hear my voice screaming to be accepted as normal, for I am happy with what I’ve got. I feel the discrimination. I understand wanting to be accepted for who I am. That would be awesome. However, for now, I will just wish that my doctors learn how disheartening ableism is for me. And be thankful that my tribe doesn’t feel the need to send me into the forest.

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