Ableism is not really a hot topic issue in this day and age.
Much work is being done to include people of all races, genders, and more, but in many areas of life, we neglect to involve and include those with disabilities.
For everyone to be on the same page, we need to keep a few things in mind when discussing ableism:
1. Don’t Tell the Disabled How to Speak Out
Just like how it isn’t a white person’s place to tell POC how to react to discrimination, it isn’t an abled person’s place to tell a disabled person how to react to ableism. A big part of living with privilege is acknowledging that your perspective is skewed.
2. Don’t Stay Quiet
Just because you don’t have an intimate understanding of ableism doesn’t mean you can’t recognize when things are wrong. It’s the duty of a privileged person to use their place of power to speak out against signs of ableism from all levels:
>> Use of disabilities as a punchline, or mocking people with disabilities.
>> Refusal to provide accommodations, or neglecting accessibility.
>> Segregating those with disabilities from the abled.
>> Assuming that those with disabilities want or even need “fixing.”
Building toward accountability is essential for communities with disabled members. Larger institutions that neglect their responsibilities to the community often seem monolithic (even for those who feel privileged). But building a community that recognizes these neglects and calls them out is the first step to developing a truly inclusive community.
3. Don’t Do It For Yourself
People often argue that ableism is important to fight because you never know if you’ll be in that position someday. This is a useful way to get privileged people to consider how ableism affects the disabled. But ableism isn’t wrong because that might be you one day; it’s wrong because it affects people here and now.
Ultimately, those of us who are able must work together to check ableism, and acknowledge how normalized it is for people and communities. Unintentional or not, ableism is everywhere, and it is everyone’s responsibility to tackle it—not just for ourselves, but for others as well.
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