Naming Ableism

Poetry that speaks volumes!

CripStory

Ableism is

when you say that I don’t act

disabled

and expect me to take that

as a compliment.

Ableism is

when you assume

that I’m automatically strong

and courageous

simply because I’m disabled.

Ableism is

when my blindness becomes

your darkness…

when you wear my scars

in your sleeve

and pretend to understand

my truths.

Ableism is

when you try to heal me,

and fix me

and promise me that  I will walk,

or see, or hear

or  that I will be

everything I was really meant to be…

one day

in heaven.

Ableism is

believing that heaven

is an able-bodied place

where broken bodies finally

become whole.

Ableism is

when “whole”

is a word reserved

for the able-bodied, or

when you say that I’m beautiful

despite my differences,

and fail to recognize that I’m beautiful

because of them.

Ableism is

when you leave us to ripen

and rot

View original post 1,640 more words

#DNCinPHL: Day 4

Yesterday my delegate tickets disappeared.  The PA Dem Party scrambled to find a replacement.  So I  was unable to attend Tuesday morning’s events. This morning, the were able to get me a pass for today and they are working on tomorrow’s pass.

So my first event today is an SEIU “Low Waged and Engaged”panel discussion at Philadelphia  City Hall.

Low Waged and Engaged Panel Discussion

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Luis Figueroa was the 1st speaker. He talked about the 64 million low-wage workers. Many, but not all, work in the service sector. Much of SEIU’s work is focused on The Fight for 15 and unionizing. Several questions were asked.

How do you engage low-wage workers in politics?

Steve Rosenthal did a PowerPoint commentary.

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Low-wage workers are disproportionately concentrated among women, blacks, and Latinos

Using North Carolina as an example, he noted that low-wage workers are less likely to vote.  But when they do vote,  they are more likely to vote Democratic.  The problem is getting them to vote. Reducing their vote via things like voter Id is a Republican focus. Democrats  need to place more focus on low-wage workers and not just on the people who donate money.

Shakira Stewart talked about the airport worker’s strike that was supposed to be held during the DNC Convention.  As a result of the politicians coming into town, American Airlines agreed to negotiate and the airport workers called off the strike – a win.

Nelini Stamp talked about what other types of workers are low-wage workers and what are their issues.  She talked about unfair work hours and lack of access to Workers Compensation. She then talked about how to assist low-wage workers to be politically engaged.  She said you need to talk about raising the minimum wage and ways to fight for decent and fair hours. And you need to deal with the intersectionality of low wages and race; you need to work with the #BlackLivesMatter actions and look at how the criminal justice system impacts these workers.

Susan Ray was then asked, “How do you change people’s behavior?” Her response was accompanied by another PowerPoint. She said you need to speak to their emotions and…

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General outlook on organizing

Where are they coming from?  Common perspective. ..

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So you need to say the personal is political…

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And make sure the goal looks winnable. And make it fun, inspirational and rewarding .

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Finally..

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Q and A followed.

What is the Fight for $15? SEIU says that in some states  it requires state passage. In others it can be done at the town level. So it depends on where you live.

We can focus on the electorate.  How do we deepen the struggle to head into the 2018 elections? Steve Rosenthal talked about  investing resources in communities  so that people are there (boots on the ground); we need to work with allied organizations and to be keep active within communities.

I’ll post this now and keep updating this throughout the day. Keep checking back…

Disability Council

My next session was a seminar on disability. The 1st speaker was Timothy Shriver . His main message was that we need to look at and speak  out about how people with disabilities are talked about. There has been a lot of pushback when we ask people to take down offending material. You need to persist and eventually you can be successful . And that we need to recognize is that everyone has a gift and we need to let the public understand that people with disabilities have a lot to offer. The important fact is that we need to get people with disabilities  registered and get them out to vote.

Zack Baldwin from AAPD spoke next. AAPD is a national cross-disability organization  whose mission is to increase the political power of people with disabilities.  Part of their work is to register people and to get media and politicians to talk openly with people with disabilities. To achieve this, they found it helpful to partner with local groups to make sure that access to voting registration and discussions are based on the idiosyncratic differences in each state. Also, it  was helpful for AAPD to get local municipalities to honor and proclaim that National Disabilities Voter Registration Week is important;  this event helps raise the issue that people with disabilities have a right and a need to register and vote. He noted that if people with disabilities voted at the same rate as the general public, then there would have been 12 million more voters in 2012. Check out their Rev Up program here.

The Americans for Democratic Action commemorate the 1948 civil rights flag with representative John Lewis and Representative Keith Ellison

I’ve been waiting for this event all week. It is so full. I ended up in a seat in the hallway outside of the auditorium.

Here’s what the program book says about the 1948 civil rights plank:

At the 1948 convention, the Civil Rights flag was adopted as a Minority Report to the party platform on a highly contested, late night though. The southern delegation strongly opposed to civil rights Plank and some Alabama and Mississippi delegates walked out when it was adopted. Two weeks after the convention, President Harry Truman, whose civil rights program was the basis of the Civil Rights Act, issued executive orders desegregating the military and providing equal opportunity in federal employment. Southern Democrats responded by replacing Truman on the ballot with Governor Strom Thurmond of the States Rights Democratic Party. These “Dixiecrats” carried four states and 39 electoral votes. None the less Truman won the four-way election with 49.55% of the popular vote and 303 electoral votes. The Dixiecrats continued to oppose and black civil rights and Congress through the 1960s.

In the contentious election year of 1948 comma many Democrats and liberals, including Truman’s orders, we’re concerned a strong position on civil rights in danger the Democratic party’s chances of election in the fall. Republicans had won control of the House and Senate in the 1946 midterm election. ADA Founder, Hubert H Humphrey, at the time the 37-year-old mayor of Minneapolis and candidate for US Senate, was convinced to make the case for the Civil Rights Act. Humphrey rose and delivered one of the great convention speeches of all time in support of the plant that affirmed his reputation as a great orator. Some of his most powerful words:

My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are one hundred seventy-two years late. To those who say that the civil rights program is an infringement on states rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of states rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

After the late-night adoption of the Civil Rights Plank and the close of the convention in Blue Ball Pennsylvania, Humphrey and the other ADAers retreated to the North Philadelphia home of one of the ADA leaders to celebrate.”

It started about 50 minutes late.The two main speakers are Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) & Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Keith Ellison rates 100% by the ADA, just like John Lewis

Kareem Abdul Jabar was a surprise speaker.  He thanked the Dems & the for their fight for civil rights. He then focused on the need to provide education regardless of gender, color, or orientation.  It is the equalizer from kindergarten through college. We have to reduce the 1.3 trillion dollar debt that students are bearing for higher education. He then thanked Rep. Lewis for his stance on civil rights.

Rep. Ellison then spoke.He summarized the passage of the 1948 Civil Rights plank and Hubert Humphrey’s involvement in this passage. Hubert Humphrey wasn’t concerned about splitting the country; instead, he was concerned about the uniting of the country.  He believed this plank would do that. He showed how Donald Trump is a throwback to the Dixiecrats—touting hate and segregation. He then thanked Bernie Sanders for helping make the 2016 platform the most progressive Democratic platform “ever.” At that point,  he then introduced John Lewis.
Lewis spoke about his history.  About the public library refusing to give him a library card when he was a child; it was almost 40 years later that he got that library card from that same library.

He was proud to say that the segregation signs have been relegated to the history books. But now we are having efforts to bring those signs and behaviors back out on our streets, into our businesses, and  homes. We have to be vigilant and make sure this doesn’t happen.

He then said that voting is the strongest tool for pushback.  We must be the spark plug.  We must be a pilot light for democracy – stay lit and continue to keep democracy alive.

There is no such thing as an illegal human being.  We must respect the dignity and worth of every individual.  Doesn’t matter if we are black, white,  Asian, Muslim, gay or straight— we are all one people.

He then told the story of a rainstorm that occurred at the shotgun-style house he lived in when he was 4 or 5. They were fearful of the house blowing up because the storm was so strong.  His grandmother then said,  no matter what,  never leave the House. Hold it down, even when the wind blows. And if you do it right,  we can change the world.

THANK YOU, JOHN LEWIS for this call to action.

At the Convention 

I have been blogging for the last hour.  Unfortunately,  everything since I arrived somehow disappeared when I started taking some pictures. Hoping this doesn’t happen again.  So onward for the evening.

People from across the country came on stage to show the world our diversity.

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People representing the diversity of America

Jessie Jackson then talked. He said we need to ban assault weapons now. The shootings of young black men must stop. Black Lives Matter.  The shootings of police officers must stop. Ban assault weapons now.

The journey for civil rights started in 1948. When women win, women and children win. When Asians win, all races win.  It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. It’s healing time. It’s hope time. It’s Hillary time. Keep hope alive. Thank you.

Mayor Karen Weaver, Flint Michigan

Mayor Karen Weaver of Flint, Michigan spoke next. Flint is the city that lost control of their water, resulting in the lead poisoning of the water. They still can’t drink the water. They expect lifelong problems from this disaster.  Many in Flint have joined Clinton because of her commitment to repairing the infrastructure in Flint and across the country.

The  Congressional Black Caucus  then stood on stage…

I’m  going to have to skip a bit of blogging. My phone is running out of its charge. I’m going to temporarily log off and try to recharge for some of the later speakers…

…I’m now back.

Martin O’Malley

At 7:30, Martin O’Malley spoke, saying that Trump thinks too much of himself.

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Governor Martin O’Malley

Climate Change

Climate change was next on the agenda. Rising food prices.  10 million acres of land burned in wildfires last year. Floods. Drought.  The thermometer isn’t Democratic. It isn’t Republican.  There is climate change.

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Renewable energy is the solution to climate change

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Governor Jerry Brown

Gun Violence

Ending Gun Violence is also important. Lee Daniels said 33K people die each year from gun violence. Enough is enough.

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Lee Daniels

Christine Leinonem, mother of one of the 49 people who died in the Orlando gay bay mass shooting. She said the weapon that killed her son shoots 33 bullets a minute.  “How is this common gun sense? This is why I support  Hillary (and not Trump).”

 

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Christine Leinonem leaving the stage with three of her son’s friends

Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed on December 14, 2013. She said that there are too many legislators who stand behind the NRA. What we need are leaders who will stand up to the NRA.  Someone like Hillary.

 

 

Then former Philadelphia Chief of Police Chuck Ramsey called for common-sense gun laws. To stop the murder of citizens. To end the killing of cops. We need good community policing, comprehensive background checks, and a ban on assault weapons. Vote for the person who will work with communities and police. Hillary will help build this bridge and not an [increasingly violent] wall [between the community and the police].

 

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Former Philadelphia Chief of Police Chuck Ramsey

Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard are two of the  mothers of shooting victims in Charleston,  SC: In summary, they said, “We choose love. Together we can heal.”wp-image-1520613046jpg.jpg

Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard

 

Then we heard from Retired US Navy Captain Mark Kelly. He spoke about common gun sense. Hillary knows we can save lives by keeping guns out of the hands [of violent people].  Then his wife, former Representative Gabby  Giffords joined him on stage…

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Captain Mark Kelly

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Representative Gabby Giffords

Broadway singers and actors then came on stage to sing “What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love” in honor of the victims of gun violence.

And another break to charge some more…

And now it’s Vice President  Joe Biden’s turn…

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Vice-President Joe Biden

He congratulated Michelle Obama for her work and her speech on Monday.  He honored his son Bo Biden who died of cancer a couple of years ago. He then honored

  • Teachers who use their hard-earned money to buy her kids pencils.
  • Hillary for her passions – college education, health care, decent pay, elder care

We will all, especially our daughters, be so proud when she walks into the Oval Office.

And Donald Trump?

  • He confuses bluster with defense
  • He belittles everyone
  • He’s dangerous

We have the strongest economy in the world. And if given a chance,  we will endure. We don’t succumb to fear. The 21st century will be the American century because we will empower ourselves and the world for the better!”

Michael Bloomberg

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Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg

TIM KAINE

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Vice-Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine

I “humbly accepted” the nomination for the position of Vice President of the United States.

I was the  70th governor of Virginia. Even my father in law, former  Republican  VA governor Holton is voting Democratic more and more often because “the party of Lincoln has moved too far to the right.”

Issues of concern that he raised during his speech:

  • Quality education
  • Investments in transportation and communities
  • Care for our veterans

We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So we need to do all that you can for others/

¡Si se puede! Yes! We can!

Why do I trust Hillary? She’s consistent.

  • She’s consistently worked for kids and families.
  • She delivers too. She battled the Republicans to get healthcare for 1st responders.
  • She was not afraid to stand up to bullies like Osama Ben Laden
  • I trust Hillary with my son’s life (who deployed overseas two weeks ago).

Even Barbara Bush is troubled about Trump. She said, “I don’t know how anyone could vote for Trump after his comments about women.”

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Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton

And finally, President Barack Obama… He was introduced by 80+-year-old Sharon Belkofer of Rossford, OH,  a gold-star mom.

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President Barack Obama

President Obama  highlighted his accomplishments over the last 8 years

  • Healthcare is a right. I got the ACA (Affordable Care Act) passed. [My personal opinion on this: The ACA was  a decent start, but we need to go further so that everyone has healthcare and that means single-payer healthcare / Medicare for All]
  • We are working to save this planet for our children.
  • Marriage equality is now real across the land
  • Education has improved

We need to make:

  • Our streets safer
  • Correct the criminal justice system
  • Create equality for all
  • There are pockets of the country that haven’t recovered.  We must do better.

What’s  right about America. We believe we are stronger together and we reach out to each other.

And it will continue with the next President — Hillary Clinton

And I agree with that hope for the future…

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YES! WE CAN!

YES! WE CAN!

Educating Girls with Disabilities around the World: A Guest Blog

Stephanie Ortoleva photo

My friend, Stephanie Ortoleva, President and Founder of Women Enabled, Inc.

Friday, October 11 was the International Day of the Girl.  To celebrate that day, one of my best friends, Stephanie Ortoleva, wrote about a missing piece of the conversation on educating girls – the education of girls with disabilities.  I thought you’d like to hear what she has to say. Thus this guest blog.

First, a bit about Stephanie. She is the President and Founder of Women Enabled, Inc., a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of woman and girls with disabilities in collaboration with activist organizations around the world.  She is also an international human rights lawyer, advocate, speaker, and author.  You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook and read her papers on the Social Science Research Network.

If you like this blog, you can get more information on this topic from Stephanie.  She has written a chapter in a soon-to-be-published (2014) Sage Publications book edited by Asha Hans entitled “Women and Girls with Disabilities – Global Perspectives” (ordering information will be on the Women Enabled, Inc. website in the Reading and Listening Room). You can also go to the Women Enabled, Inc. website in the “Education and Employment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” section and the Publications Section for several other articles on women and girls with disabilities.

And now, here’s what Stephanie has to say on the education of girls with disabilities….

International Day of the Girl:  Focus on Education – Missing Stories in the Blogs

The United Nations has designated October 11 as International Day of the Girl, with a focus on Education.  But as I read many well-written and strong feminist posts on this issue, the concerns of millions of girls with disabilities are missing from the dialog.  Who are the missing girls?  The deaf girl in India who attends a school for deaf children and who was raped by her teachers.  The blind girl in the United States who wants to be a scientist, but is not permitted to take the classes and who is told a blind person can’t be a scientist, especially not a blind girl.  The girl with a disability in Pakistan whose parents keep her at home and will not even let her attend school because they are ashamed.  These are only a few of the untold stories.  But the statistics about education of girls with disabilities tells an even starker story.

Statistics

Estimates of the percentage of children with disabilities not attending school are extremely variable.  However, in general, children with disabilities are less likely to start school and have lower rates of staying and being promoted in school than their peers without disabilities.  The correlation between low educational outcomes and having a disability is often stronger than the correlations between low educational outcomes and other characteristics such as gender, rural residence or poverty.  The limited statistics that are available indicate that although the literacy rate for adults with disabilities is 3%, only 1% of women with disabilities are literate, based on comprehensive research completed by Harilyn Rousso for UNESCO.  These percentages are significantly lower than those for women in general.

  • The UNESCO Institute for Statistics reports, “In 2008, 796 million adults worldwide (15 years and older) reported not being able to read and write and two-thirds of them (64%) were women.  The global adult literacy rate was 83%, with a male literacy rate of 88% and a female literacy rate of 79%.” In 2010, according to a journal article by Francis  Huebler, this statistic improved marginally to a male literacy rate of 89% and a female literacy rate of 80%, with the percent differential between the genders remaining the same.
  • The World Bank and the World Health Organization Report states that out of the 51 countries included in the analysis, “50.6% of males with disability have completed primary school, compared with 61.3% of males without disability. Females with disability report 41.7% primary school completion compared with 52.9% of females without disability, a difference of 8.9% between males and females with disabilities.”
  • There is a direct correlation between poverty, being a child with disabilities and low education participation, with the girls with disabilities from lower socio-economic backgrounds rarely attending school.
  • Girls with disabilities have the lowest education participation rates of all groups and they have few opportunities for vocational training, all of which further contributes to their low employment rates.

International Law

Under international law our participation is our human right. [These rights are enumerated in both the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women]. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in its Article 7 on Children with Disabilities and its Article 24 on Education focuses on the girl child with a disability and her right to education. The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), in Article 10, guarantees to all women and girls the right to education.  Furthermore, in several of its General Recommendations, the CEDAW Committee has specifically addressed the rights of women and girls with disabilities. And  the Final Conclusions from the 55th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which focused on women and education and employment in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields, specifically incorporated these rights for women and girls with disabilities.  Thus, the synergy between the CRPD and the CEDAW is a vital tool for advancing our rights in this area.

Barriers to Participation in Education

Barriers to the participation of women and girls with disabilities in education are based on culture, family structures, societal attitudes and stereotypes, institutional systems, law and legal processes, economic realities, patriarchy and paternalism.  Specific barriers include:

  • Cultural bias – Often, women are denied education because it is believed that they will become wives and mothers and such resources are provided to male children.  But for women with disabilities, are often seen as unlikely to assume such roles, and thus are the last to receive family resources;
  • Double discrimination – Women and girls with disabilities face double or intersectional discrimination based on both gender and disability (as well as other identities) and stereotypical attitudes based thereon further limit our opportunities;
  • Invisibility – Girls with disabilities are often kept in the home and their births may not be registered, making them invisible to the education system, either because of assumptions about our abilities or embarrassment on the part of our families.  Additionally, misconceptions about our abilities may make us invisible to teachers even if we attend school;
  • Violence against women and girls with disabilities – Women and girls with disabilities are more likely to experience gender-based violence than their non-disabled sisters, sometimes because we are erroneously perceived as sick, helpless, asexual, and powerless, or on the other hand, we are seen as hypersexual or just lucky to have sexual experiences at all wherever we can because we are undesirable.  Additionally, women and girls with disabilities living in residential facilities or schools are even more likely to experience such abuse;
  • Pregnancy, HIV-infection and other results of sexual assault and rape – As a result of sexual violence and rape, women and girls with disabilities may become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases from the abuser;
  • Bullying and teasing – Disabled girls are sometimes subjected to bullying and teasing by their peers based on both our gender and our disability, negatively impacting our emotional and cognitive development, as well as causing low self-esteem;
  • Economic resources for education – Male education is prioritized as it is believed that a male child can contribute financially to the family, and women and girls with disabilities are not viewed as worthy of an education since many assume their disabilities will preclude success;
  • Schools in inaccessible locations and/or lack of transportation – Schools that provide special education and/or education for children with disabilities in integrated settings are often located in cities and families are reluctant to send daughters to the city or there is no accessible transport to such schools.  Boys are often seen as more independent and permitted to travel to urban locations;
  • Accessibility to assistive technology and rehabilitation – Men and boys have greater access to such services;
  • Accessibility of school facilities – Often the school buildings and facilities themselves are inaccessible, posing yet another barrier;
  • Accessible toileting facilities and assistance in toileting – Provision of toileting assistance places a particular burden on women and girls with disabilities, especially with respect to menstruation which is often a taboo topic. [In addition,] access to appropriate hygiene products is non-existent or in very short supply, resulting in increased isolation for women and girls with disabilities and further impairs their ability to attend school or work;
  • Availability of special education – Girls with disabilities are less likely to receive special education, in some instances because teachers expect more from boys than girls and sometimes because girls, who may be less likely to act out due to cultural control pressures, are not referred for services based on a learning or other disability.  And even if a girl receives special education services, she may be tracked toward pursuing traditional gender-identified career paths;
  • Competitive classroom climate and teaching strategies – Competitive educational approaches are challenging to some girls with disabilities.  Mainly for the same reasons discussed earlier, like bullying, being outnumbered by males in the classroom, and low self-esteem.  In addition, many teachers are trained to teach more life skills to students with disabilities rather than focus on competitive subjects;
  • Digital divide – Women and girls with disabilities are at the bottom of the digital divide and the least likely to have access to technology;
  • Belief that girls do not do math and science – We are presumed not to have aptitude in these subjects and are steered into gender stereotypical subjects, as well as the “talent myth” which is based on the erroneous assumption that skills in STEM fields are an innate aptitude and cannot be learned;
  • Counseling based on stereotypical roles for women and girls – Counselors often steer girls with disabilities toward gender-stereotyped jobs and generally they are less likely to afford girls with disabilities vocational education. [Also,] many counselors hold the incorrect societal perception that girls with disabilities have limited aptitude or interest in STEM and other challenging subjects;
  • Girls with and without disabilities have limited interaction – Both groups would benefit from such interactions, as they contribute to networking and peer support, and reduction of fear and stigma;
  • Absence of women with disabilities as role models – The invisibility of women with disabilities in educational materials, as educators, in the workplace and in the media creates a dearth of positive role models for women and girls with disabilities; and
  • Shortage of women with disabilities as mentors – Having a responsive and supportive mentor makes the world of difference for academic and professional success and increased self-esteem.

Let’s spread the facts and then, let’s change them!

This blog is a wonderful essay on abelism and how it affects one woman’s access to the the world and loving relationships. Like racism, sexism, and homophobia, this blog clearly speaks power to the truth on the intersection of all forms of discrimination and how it can personally affect someone. In this case, a queer, adopted, woman of color who has a physical disability. Through the lens of living in an ableist world, she describes how she has survived and thrived despite all of the isms she has experienced.
Thank you for your posting. I hear you and hope others do as well.

Leaving Evidence

This essay was originally published in Issue Ten of Makeshift Magazine.

forsythia

This is a beginning; a dive into waters that I swim every day, but have been taught not to speak about.  I struggle with how to talk about love out loud in a way that holds access and doesn’t diminish love in all its glory, but instead illuminates how ableism twists and threatens love and relationships. Needing to constantly negotiate access for my physical disability within all my relationships in an ableist world has shaped the kind of connection and love I am able to have.  I have been scared to open up the Pandora’s box that holds the intimacies of ableism.  Scared to talk about some of the deepest parts of what disability has meant in my life.

Most days I feel like access and love are like oil and water.  I wonder how the two can…

View original post 833 more words