Friday, October 3, 2008

Abelism is never funny.

Unfortunately, I can't upload this horrifyingly unfunny image into this blog entry.

An image of a white man, an athlete whose where's a brace he uses to walk, run and jump.

This man is participating in what looks like a long jump competition.

He is not named. The sport in which he participates is not identified. 
His geographic location, degree/s, jobs, interests...

What we are told, though, is that he's a "fuckin' cheater."

Above a photo of this person mid-jump is the phrase "fuckin' cheaters."

See the image here --

I used to use the word "lame" to describe what I didn't like about a person, a behavior, an event... And then my partner schooled me on a few things... schooled me on the power of language and the privileges of the able-bodied -- and that word -- that word used to denigrate people with disabilities is not one that I use anymore.

And I am still learning. I have a lot to learn. And that shames me.

[Please note: I don't view guilt or shame as inherently counter-productive feelings -- guilt and shame can represent one's acknowledgment of the enormous power and privileges they access simply because of they are able-bodied and/or U.S. American and/or middle-class (and I am all of these things -- well:) I'm an "Americanized" Jamaican citizen whose been in the U.S. for a VERY long time). Guilt and shame can discourage a person from learning more about oppression, they ways in which they benefit from the oppression of others, and ways to resist/reduce their complicity in oppression. For me, though, guilt and shame are motivational sentiments -- I use my guilt and shame as tools for denting and cracking the walls of the master's house... I add my tiny dent to that of millions of people living -- and resisting -- in the territory that is now called the "United States," people who took a "crack at it" before me, and 100s of 1000s who continue to take a swing at the master and his excessively big fuckin' house.]

The import of abelist/oppressive language resides in it's connection to -- the masking affect it has with regard to abelism -- that is, the historical, systematic and institutional oppression of people with disabilities.

I am still learning about abelism, how I benefit from it, and the way it operates in the U.S.

I do understand, however, that my language -- my words -- have immense power.

The power to desensitize.

The power to deter.

The power to deny.

The power to desensitize, deter consciousness raising about, and deny the ubiquity and seriousness of the oppression of people with disabilities -- a form of oppression that I participate in by virtue of (thoughtlessly) accessing the privileges attendant to being able-bodied.

Please, teach me -- tell me what you know about abelism.
Post links to websites, list books/articles etc.,.

Thank you.

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