Friday, July 21, 2017

A Honking Big Piece of Pie

A research study was recently published that showed that one quarter of non-disabled people avoided conversational contact with people with disabilities if they could. One quarter! A quarter of a pie is a big, freaking piece of pie, it's half of half. Now when asked they said that they were 'afraid of offending' us. Really? You avoid us for our benefit. You think that targeting and then isolating people with disabilities is something you do to protect us from you? Really? You're that bad a person that you are removing you from any possible social contact with one of 'those' people. Gosh, how people can mask their bigotry behind the concept of kindness. 

"Really, I'm doing them a favour!"

Let's see how are the rules of conversation different than they are with everyone else.

1) Don't talk about our bodies.

2) Don't talk to us in patronizing ways.

Hmmm. There are other rules but they are the fine tuning rules that you learn from each individual, disabled or not, as to what they find acceptable.

Those are the don'ts, how about the dos?

1) Acknowledge us in the same way as you acknowledge others.

2) Accept that we exist and ensure there is space for us in line and in ordinary social banter.

Gosh, not a long list either.

Don't tell me that your active avoidance is about this shit. I am not sure if the researchers believed you, thought I think they did, but I don't.

It's not our fault that you feel uncomfortable around people with disabilities. We didn't teach you to see us as less or as inhumanly different or as pariahs to be avoided. Don't know who did but it wasn't us. So don't blame your discomfort on us and don't pretend that visually and socially euthanizing us is for our benefit.

We exist.

We are here.

Grow a back bone.

Say, "Excuse me," if you bump into us.

Tell us how hot it is this summer when we're on an elevator with you.

Ask us if we liked the movie on the way out of seeing the same picture.

How hard is that?

It isn't.

Unless bigotry, not kindness, stops you.


L said...

I wish ablebodied strangers would avoid talking to me.

Instead I get a near-constant barrage of microaggressions:

"How long have you been using a power wheelchair?"

"What happened to you?"

"Do you mind if I ask why you use a wheelchair?"

"Run me down, why don't you?" (even when I'm inching past at a snail's pace)

"You're a good driver" (in a condescending, surprised voice)

"Have you got a licence for that thing?"

"Careful you don't get a speeding ticket!"

"Are you two going to have a race?" (when I'm out with another wheelchair user)

"Watch out!" (even if I've been slow and careful, and they've had their eyes glued to their phone)

"Jesus Christ!" (even if I've been slow and careful, and they've had their eyes glued to their phone)

(In a sing-song voice, as though I were three years old) "SomeONE liKES purPLE"

"You're just like my twelve year old daughter with Down's Syndrome!" (I am 40 and do not have an intellectual disability. The daughter was not a wheelchair user)

laura said...

I gotta agree with the first poster. I live in a place in the US where almost everyone feels obliged to comment on everything I do. I'm 44 and the most ridiculous things are said to me so to add to the above list. "Does your mother or helper know where you are?"
Do those children's parents know they are with you?" I'm a nanny. "You should have been taught to manage better time I won't be here to help you" Gee I don't remember asking for your help but thanks for the lecture. "Oh I'm gping to pray for you to healed because my church says we should pray for the sick. Yo dude I'm not sick and please don't touch me and then usually the person gets all hurtand offended if you say no thanks. I too wish that people wouldn't talk to me some days. I just don't have it in me to always be dealing with that stuff people say.

Shannon said...

People without disabilities say they don't know what to say... how about the same things you would say to anyone?