Tuesday, March 1, 2016
What I Want Everyone to Think About on Disability Day of Mourning
This was a facebook post I made last year on Disability Day of Mourning that has been shared many times. After some consideration, I decided to add it here as well. It is relatively short.
[Content Warning: mentions of filicide, "assisted" suicide, murder, murder apologia (in the form of a quote), K. Stapleton, ableism.]
Since it is National Day of Mourning for disabled people murdered by their parents or caretakers, I want all of us, but especially my non-disabled friends to think critically about the ways in which disabled lives are devalued, dehumanized, and stigmatized.
I want you to think about the ways the lives of disabled people are thought of as not worth living. Think critically about this, because when you start to, you begin to notice it in your actions, your speech, and your implicit assumptions about disabled people.
I want you to think critically about what it means to say it is understandable that Vincent Phan's mother killed him because, in the words of one commentator on the news report of his death, "live with a severely autistic child for that long with no support and see how desperate and helpless YOU feel! you know nothing." What does it mean when this has been on the site for more than 7 months?
I want you to think critically about how K. Stapleton was given a national platform on which to justify attempting to kill her daughter with carbon monoxide poisoning. What does it mean when she is assumed to be a loving, caring mother--even when she attempts to kill her daughter.
What does it mean when disabled lives are defined by services?
What does it mean when parents who kill their disabled children often don't even get prosecuted?
But more than that.
I want you to think about why they are given these assumptions. Murdering disabled children and getting away with it has a horrifically long history. What in your public and private institutions which you interact with devalue disabled people?
What does it mean that 70% of American polling stations are physically inaccessible to a variety of disabled people?
What does it mean that when someone is pregnant, you wish for their future child to not have disabilities?
What does it mean when nondisabled people set up a hierarchy of disability by who is most "useful?"
What does it mean when your most common insult is a slur for I/DD people?
What does it means when anti-suicide advocates don't fight against the coercive tools in which disabled people are "assisted" in ending their life in the medical system, except when it can "send the wrong message" to "normal" people.
What does it mean when you use the term "special needs" instead of "disabled?" After all, what's special about human needs?
What does it mean when our school systems track disabled students (most disabled students of color) into the school-to-prison pipeline? What does it mean when we segregate disabled students and subject them to abuse by their teachers/paraeducators in the name of "education" and/or "treatment."
I want you to think about ableism and the flavors it comes in; the multitudes of ways disabled people are not thought of as full humans, because when you do so, the entire world starts making more sense and you realize that maybe your allies, your comrades, and/or your friends aren't really there for disabled people.
And I want you to think about how that needs to change—now.