Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day If you want to know more about Blogging Against Disablism Day visit Diary Of A Goldfish. She outlines it better than I ever could, since she founded it and all.
I’m something of a BADD veteran; I say that with the only qualification being that I couldn’t remember how many years I’ve participated until I looked it up.
I think there’s an assumption that the disability community is one of the most accepting communities out there. I’m not saying that it’s a correct assumption or not since it’s impossible to judge such a thing. I just think it’s an interesting assumption. I wonder where it comes from, the reasons behind it and such.
Maybe people think it’s because most people with a lifelong disability were teased at some point and that’s what makes them more accepting, you know, because others haven’t been of them, or something.
Earlier this year someone gave me the idea that others (in the disability community) might see me as a faker because I use a wheelchair.
I thought this was a strange statement. I had never considered the possibility, even though it probably has happened, at least once. Even though I never considered this before I’ve put a lot of thought into it now. I’m not saying it’s been in the forefront of my mind for months but it’s been a passing thought (more than once).
It’s not that I’m oblivious to the idea that I’m judged based on my abilities and/or disabilities. In fact I know it’s going to happen, so much so that I brought it up in a job interview.
I don’t remember what the question was, or even my full answer, but I remember saying that there have been times that I’ve been seen as “not disabled enough” and how I thought that was a form of prejudice.
Then I waited to for the interviewer to hang up the phone, thus ending the interview. Actually I thought about hanging up the phone myself to save myself the embarrassment, or even worse, more questions (especially ones that could result in a bad interview & then not getting a position I really wanted).
I think it’s a common problem of Cerebral Palsy (although I could be wrong). Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella condition, meaning it varies in severity. I wasn’t able to get a wheelchair of my own until insurance requirements changed. The rational was, “she can walk, so she doesn’t need a wheelchair.” Never mind that CP causes muscle fatigue and assistive devices, like a wheelchair, can help with that.
I’m no stranger to prejudice. I think that goes for anyone who considers themselves to be part of the disability community. That’s not what I want to explore. Been there done that. But are there ever internal prejudices within the community, as there are in the “outside” world?
If I was going to think this though, which I’m not sure I have that’s why I’m putting out there on the internet, I’d have to start with myself. Do I judge people? Do I have prejudices? Of course I do; to put it very simply. (I admit shamefully)
As much as I say I’d rather focus on abilities than disabilities it’s largely with people that I know and in controlled situations. Someone walking or even rolling down the street? That’s often another story.
I’m not sure when or how it turned into judgment, but somewhere along the line it did. All I really wanted to do was know a person’s story, but was never brave enough to ask. (Or at least that’s what I told myself.)
In an attempt to defend myself I’m going to tell you that this doesn’t stay within the disability community. It happens with everyone I pass on the street or see on a daily basis. I’m a non discriminating judger of people.
Now that I’ve caught myself (and called myself out) on it I’m going to be more mindful of my actions, known and unknown to those around me.
What do you think? Does the disability community have internal prejudices?
For more BADD posts visit Diary of A Goldfish, The BADD Facebook Page, or BADD on Twitter.