Monday, May 28, 2018

What Happened and Why

I had the oddest experience the other day. I was in a grocery store and had been unable to find what I was looking for. Joe and I went looking for a staff. We saw a woman off in the distance giving directions to someone else and appeared friendly in doing so. So we approached her, we told her what we were looking for and she stood looking, staring really, at me frozen. Then she started taking us to where we needed to go, she refused to walk beside me, she refused even any verbal chit chat.

I had seen her quite comfortably talking to the person who'd approached her before me, I had seen it, I know I did. I looked at Joe who just shrugged his shoulders, she was really, really, rude.

We got to where we were going and she just pointed at the item and walked away.

This was a woman with both a physical and intellectual disability. This was a member of my community. She had just demonstrated her comfort with interacting with the non disabled before showing me disrespect. In fact, as she walked away, she was stopped by another shopper with whom she chatted and it was obvious they were simply saying hello.

This has happened before, other people with disabilities being uncomfortable with me and my disability. I don't know what it means.

Are they simply, deeply, prejudiced against others with disabilities?

Do they worry that our disability with draw attention to theirs?

Is this bone deep internalized self hatred and ableism?

I don't know, but it kind of hurt. I don't expect to be embraced and given extra special treatment from an employee with a disability but I do expect the same as they give the non disabled.

We got what we wanted and left.

And I'm still trying to figure out what happened and why?

7 comments:

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

You have mentioned before that there are, sadly, some parents and schools that actively discourage their disabled kids/students from ever interacting with other disabled people out of some misguided idea that ever having contact with other disabled people is somehow contradictory with the idea of promoting integration among non-disabled peers. Perhaps she was brought up with this approach?

clairesmum said...

It does hurt when someone is rude to you...and it may well be about her prejudices...even understanding how a person may have been 'taught' this hatred, doesn't make it less painful to receive it.

I think she missed a chance to make a friend...her loss.

ella bee said...

I think it works like this around identities I hold- the person believes our identity makes us worth less in the eyes of others. But, surprisingly, others aren't acting this out. So the identity must not show in them, they are passing but precariously.
Then I come along with the same identity. Alarm bells ring, the person thinks, oh no, if I am seen with her they will all notice that we are...! I must not show any camaraderie with this person who shares this identity and then maybe no-one will notice the identity applies to me.
That's my take based on my experience- it's about dividing oneself into 'parts' and hiding from that part of oneself.
That's my take on it anyway

L said...

You have mentioned before that there are, sadly, some parents and schools that actively discourage their disabled kids/students from ever interacting with other disabled people out of some misguided idea that ever having contact with other disabled people is somehow contradictory with the idea of promoting integration among non-disabled peers. Perhaps she was brought up with this approach?

This was my thought also - that maybe she had been scolded or punished for interacting with other disabled people as a child/teen.

Rachel S said...

Being in a customer service job means being at least civil and polite to everybody no matter what you think of them. It can be really hard! Somebody really fell down on her job training, putting all else aside. I can be socially awkward but there's a certain amount of faking it I have to do a lot. It's sort of like acting. I have a role to play. How much of the real me comes into said role depends on the interaction at the moment.

Not putting all else aside, I am at a loss as to why the idea of teaching children (who become adults) to avoid the very people best equipped to help them out in a lot of situations. My general thought when I see disabled people out and about is, "We're all in this together!" I wonder if they'd teach a child of a different ethnicity (adopted, presumably) from their parents the same way. Don't talk to those people, they're *blank.* But that'd be RACIST, I bet they'd cry. That'd be WRONG. Apparently ableism is just peachy-keen though. *epic teenage-girl eyeroll*

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

Rachel S,
Yes, I think it is so sad and terrible that some parents/teachers/etc teach disabled children to avoid other disabled people. I know for me as a deaf person and as a person with ADHD, I often learn the most about accommodating or working around my disabilities from others who share the same disability. There are certain things that non-disabled people just don't know because they've never needed to know. And I also absolutely needed older role models of people who shared my disabilities and were successful and happy.

I think the choice to segregate disabled children from others "like themselves" might be partly an over-reaction to the long history of institutionalizing disabled children (and adults), which used to completely segregate them from all of society. In the very needed movement to de-institutionalize people with disabilities and enable them to live in the community, it was argued that disabled children have a right to be integrated with non-disabled peers and could gain many benefits from interacting with non-disabled peers rather than being segregated with "their own kind". I'm guessing perhaps some non-disabled adults have misunderstood this to mean that children with disabilities should ONLY be interacting with non-disabled people. And that's not it at all. What we all need is BOTH, contact with people like ourselves (from whom we learn certain things that usually we can't learn from non-disabled people) AND ALSO people unlike ourselves (so we learn from a more diverse range of perspectives).

Wendy Knapp said...

sounds like lateral violence.....happens in communities that experience oppresion