Seeing people “worse off” reminds me how small my struggles are in the scheme of things.
(Thank you, dear Lord.)
But I don’t get it… if she needs help in the bathroom,
She should stay home
They have internet programs now, and books,
Why does she even come?
She’s a detriment to others.
What selfish parents.
Our children shouldn’t have to sit next to her.
This is sickening.
A tube! I don’t want my kids to watch her eat!
If a machine has to breathe life into her lungs,
Is she really worthy of this air?
What if she DIES in the classroom?
I don’t want my kids to watch someone die!
Why are her parents sending her to school?
Anyways, if I was them, I’d want to be with my daughter in her final days…
The article is a hard read, largely because it’s written with the assumption that if you have CP (cerebral palsy) you’re going to pass any second. Also, I have a very difficult time with these “right-to-die” stories because although I believe in personal liberties, these particular cases are based on the idea that life with a ventilator or any assistive technology is absolutely horrific. They’d rather be dead than be me. The ironic-but-sad thing is that ventilators, powerchairs, sign language, learning braille, crutches, feedings tubes—for the most part, they make life BETTER for people. Life happens to be of higher quality, you know, when you can actually do things like breathe. Ventilators tend to help with that.
However, what was “harder” about the story were the comments that followed afterwards. (The statements above.) It seems like although there have been many changes for disabled people (like the fact that we can go to school), these things are reminders that disgust for disabled people is still prevelant.
This “campaign” is proof positive that there are folks out there who are just plain diabolical! I refuse to believe that they just “don’t get it”, not with all of the disability activists out there with whom they could have consulted for the real picture. It’s as if they’re on a mission to stigmatize, demonize, and marginalize us.
Instead of taking a systemic or wholesome approach at studying ableism, we often pin the oppression we face as disabled people as “misunderstanding” and a need for awareness, I would say moreso than other movements. Now this may be largely because much of the movement is still run by nondisabled people, it is convienient for the people in charge to have us think awareness only, or perhaps the fact that we are taught to want to be “just like everyone else” and don’t want to believe people can hate us. “They wouldn’t bully Johnny if they knew about his disability.” Hey, we should teach them about Johnny! Well what about looking at the systems that makes disability=dependence on others=burden? What about looking how our ableism, like racism, is enfused into everything that we learn? Isn’t making it an individual issue a good way to avoid creating radical and revolutionary change?
Chip Smith, author of the Cost of Privilege says it well in a comment on an earlier post:
The thing is, even if a white (heterosexual, abled, male,…) person is personally pretty decent, that person still retains the advantages that go with being privileged in U.S. society. It’s built in. So how do we move from personal awareness to also fundamentally reshaping our social system? For me, one person at a time — though necessary — doesn’t get it done.
If it isn’t apparent to you yet with 2007 cases like Christe Reimer, Ruben Navarro, Katie Thorpe, Ashley X, (I’m too tired to link but go over to FRIDA’s website, Not Dead Yet’s, or Cilla’s), the truth is there are people that actually hate disabled people. Sorry to break the news but they literally want us gone. Dead. Locked in basements. Starved. Suffocated. Drowned. Overly medicated. Prettying it up by saying we just need them to understand us better, quoting Dr. King over and over, and settling for what table scraps we’re given is not going to cut it. Awareness without systemic change never will never work and our people our suffering because of it.
We have to RISE up. We have to take control of our movement and the direction it’s headed (let’s start by putting the focus on COMMUNITY and not promotion of the individual.) We have to make it our responsibility to tell our OWN people that to be a part of this community is a blessing, not a curse. We have to take power. There aren’t any options left.
*DNR means that you are legally saying that you do not want life-saving help in an emergency.