Sidelined (Verb) to remove from the center of activity or attention.
I came home from the movies and looked this word up.
We travel differently than we used to, we leave a day early, plan a day of rest before starting, We rush less, we plan for fun. It's nice this getting older thing. So today we had off and we decided to go to the movies at a theatre across from our hotel. It's a nice place and it's quite accessible. The best thing, though, is that they've got a lot of choice for accessible seating. It's one of the few theatres that I go to where they have spaces in the center of a row. I love looking at the screen head on. It's a rare experience for me and I love it.
I'm used to being on the end of rows, tacked on, and being required to watch the show from the edge of the theatre. This is true for movies and live performances. I didn't really think about it much, until today, I spent most of my time with that gratitude that I know I should have - simply grateful fore being able to get in and for having a space. I'd been warned about this by an elder in the disability community, he told me, one day in Scotland, to never be grateful for what should be expected. Good advice, but advice to follow. I do feel grateful and I'm kind of punished if I'm not.
But today, sitting in the center of the theater, looking dead on at the screen. I thought about the experience that we have, often, as disabled people of being sidelined. It's a verb, not a state of being. Its something done, it's an activity performed ... someone actively sidelines another someone. This was a thought that has been long in coming to me. I've thought about purposeful exclusion before ... I've written a blog or two about it. It's clear that some things are designed, purposefully to deny access. People will debate me about this, but I'm sorry, they debate from the point of view of 'I can get in and you are just angry that you can't.' Um, yeah.
A trip or two ago, Joe and I pulled of the road to go into a restaurant.. We got in and just inside the door, just on the other side of the 'please let us seat you' sign, was two steps down into the restaurant. They had disabled parking, an automatic door, and two steps into the restaurant. I complained about it. They said that 'that's just the way it was designed.' I got that. What they didn't get was that the person who designed it, the person who approved it, and the person who gave the restaurant their license active discriminated against people with disabilities. I asked why they didn't put a sign over their door saying, WE DON'T SERVE DISABLED PEOPLE. Or, they could make it even clearer, because after all they are only barring those who can't use the stairs, put a red slash through the wheelchair guy and put it outside their door. They said, outrageously, with a straight face. "We don't discriminate against any group."
I freaking give! Disabled people may experience the only form of active discrimination, from public places, from employment and from education - by accident not design. Sorry this school isn't accessible but that's the way it is.f
Sitting at the end of the row to watch The Wizard of Oz meant that I didn't get to see about an eighth of the stage.. But I sat there, not realizing I'd been sidelined, grateful that I could be there with the kids. I loved watching them watch the play.
Thing about getting something once, like a good view of the screen, it is difficult to enjoy seeing it any other way. I will go to movies, I will sit on the sidelines just as I have before. But now it will be different. I will recognize that I'm sitting on the margins of the theatre .. sidelined.
Not now, but when it bugs me too much, I'm going to have a think about it ... maybe there's something to be done here.
First comes realization ...