Too often I find that disability is the one thing that gets ignored, and an underlying ignorance to the discrimination that occurs towards the disabled. Awhile back I wrote about some people around me had no idea that discrimination towards people with a disability existed, telling me I had no rights to feel a certain way about some situations, treating my struggles with society as me being melodramatic.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve had mostly good experiences in adulthood. My childhood wasn’t all that great, but things did eventually improve. But that doesn’t mean to say life is 100% hunky dory, and that I don’t face discrimination at all. Because I do still do. Coming back to what I was saying though, you’d be surprised at how many people think that discrimination towards people with disabilities doesn’t exist in today’s world, according to them. They seem to think that disabled people are treated with utmost kindness, because you know, they get benefits, and there are laws against discriminating disabled people, or there are blue badges etc.
By the way just because there are laws to prevent it, that doesn’t mean people follow those laws, and sometimes get away with it because they find loopholes and have arguments ready for it. You don’t hear of it, because mainstream media don’t talk of those things, or they are Un-noticeable and indirect, done in clever ways that its hard to prove. Even if the discrimination is actually there.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, that there are many reasons why people have no idea of the existence of disability discrimination. But I think one of the main reasons is because no one speaks of it, or mentions it when they talk about diversity as a whole. Disability gets left out and not mentioned in the way other group types do. Celebrities, activists who fight for equal rights don’t mention or acknowledge disability when they tick off a list of marginalised groups of people, when standing up for people in marginalized groups. As though we don’t exist, or worth adding to the list. I get so frustrated and fed up of people leaving us out, for not adding us on the list, as though we don’t deserve the same rights as other marginalized groups.
I got so annoyed one time, I confronted Emma Watson who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, on instagram when she was talking about different groups of women being abused I think, and that it needed to be stopped. I can’t remember the exact post, or what she was yabbering on about, but I asked her “Does that include people with disabilities and impairments?” Well something to that affect. She didn’t exactly respond, but the next post she did on women’s rights, instead of a list of marginalized women she used some other word on a different post. She played it quite clever there, but then a few weeks later she went back to listing marginalized groups and again disability is left out.
I have now gone back to look at the post in which I responded, and she has now changed her caption to read “We are standing up for ALL marginalized people.” Turns out she did notice but sneakily changed and edited it, to make it look like she had thought about everyone all along. It was one of her times up posts. I guess I was heard. But that doesn’t change the fact that disability is still ignored. This only proves just as much that she was able to skirt around the issue by doing away with the list and just putting the word “ALL” without really having to address disabled women being part of that group too. In fact she’s actually edited all the posts near that particular one that listed different groups.
She’s not the only one, I had to do the same thing somewhere else on the internet. Tumblr also did a post a while back I think for international women’s day. Once again a whole list of marginalized women were mentioned and spoken about, asking people to stand up for these groups and stop discrimination. However disability once again was missed out. Tumblr unlike Emma took action quickly after I commented and called them out on it. Asking why we had been left out, and expressed how sick and tired I was of seeing people ignore disability when standing up for equal right, and talking about diversity and inclusion, as though we don’t exist or not important enough to mention. reminding them with passion that we are here, we do exist and that we are real.
They were very quick in re writing the post and sharing again, this time adding disability to the list and including them too. This made me happy to see that they were willing to rectify their mistake and try include all groups properly. The post was to show people who face social and political hurdles, that they are noticed and tumblr sees them. That they are valued. I’ve had to express myself on a few sights and posts to get the message across, with some positive results. But this is still not enough as disability is still not mentioned during talks of diversity. I really want that to change and want people to take notice and see us too when they speak of diversity.
I’m sick and tired of celebrities, activists and others leaving disability out every time, as though we don’t exist, and I’m sick and tired of disability being brushed under the rug, or not being taken seriously. People turning the other way, and pretending we are not here, or our problems are not real. Taking pity on us, rather than emphasizing with us, and not wanting to hear what we say. It drives me mad when people don’t take our feelings and emotions into consideration, as though we don’t have any. Because we do have feelings, we should be treated fairly, as everyone else. We should be treated with kindness at all times, as human beings and people, not when it suits others, or to make able bodied people feel good about themselves.
The truth is disability is just as much a part of diversity as any other group and should be seen so, and given the same attention, when it comes to standing up for human rights and equality, or fighting for inclusion in things. Disability is as much and identity as skin colour, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and any other marginalized group. We are human too, and we are real people. Not just stories in a book or film, we are people with feelings, personalities, capabilities, dreams and aspirations and much much more. Our disabilities are a part of us, but doesn’t necessarily define us. We are more than our disabilities, and we should have rights, and inclusion should be exercised just as much as with any other group of people.
Disability should not be a taboo, and should not be overlooked when talking about diversity. Anyone can become disabled at any time in their life, and disability does not discriminate anyone. No one is exempt from gaining a disability. Don’t ignore it, because one day it could be you who needs that show of support, that ends up feeling left out etc. Make disability a part of diversity and end discrimination for everyone!!!!
I’m making it my mission to get inclusion for disability in diversity, and for people to not be afraid to mention disability when talking about all different manners of diverse and marginalized groups. Reminding people that we are a part of society too. It will take a long time perhaps, and we still have a very long way to go. We might be only making small steps, but hopefully in the future we will make waves and make positive changes in people’s perceptions of disability and brake the taboo. We are hopefully stepping in th right direction, one baby step at a time.