We live in an ableist world. The world was not designed for people with disabilities. I can attest to that fact because my big sister is severely disabled and I see how hard it is to navigate the world as I am her care taker part time. I am my sister’s ally in this ableist world. What does it mean to be an ally? In the reading Becoming an Ally it is define as “being a supportive of other people who are different than you.” Evans, Washington. That the support is flexible so that it does not define a person as a whole. Being an ally is being able to meet the person where there at listening and not making assumptions.
As I stated earlier the world we live in an ableist world. In the reading Recognizing Ableist Beliefs and Practices the authors articulate that ableism is a form of oppression that is pervasive in our society. That in order to combat ableism we need allies. Those allies are abled bodied people like myself advocating for those who have disabilities to have accessibility in the world we live in. For example an ally can be a white person speaking out against racism against minorities or men calling out sexism. An ally helps facilitate social change and is agent against oppression targeting certain groups. An ally is someone comes from a group that has advantages and privileges that those is a marginalized group does not have. “Challenging ableism truly requires that we recognize how this oppression is manifested on the individual, institutional, and cultural levels of engagement.” (pg 541) People need to be reevaluating their perceptions and stereotypical responses when it comes to people with disabilities.
Students with disabilities have a hard time navigating institutional support in college. The reason for this is because it is a complicated bureaucracy that is less supportive than what they had in high school. I wonder why that it is? You would think that educational institutions would be up to date on accessibility for their disabled students. In reading 105 several students spoke of their frustrations on how hard it has been to navigate their education. Often times those students don’t have accommodations that are supportive to their learning and their environment. Their first year of college is often the most stressful time for a student who has disabilities as they are trying to figure out what their needs are and often times those needs are not meet because the school is not equip to support a student who is disabled. Some of the ideas that are being implemented to make accessibility a lot easier for disabled students is creating space for these students. One suggestion was creating safe zones where students could go talk to a counselor about their needs as well as place where they can relax and be themselves. As well as getting the resources they need.
People with disabilities are often targets of violence and discrimination which can be equated to racism. How so? in the reading 103 they touch on this subject and why they came to that conclusion. They spoke of the lynching of James Bryd Jr. Not only was he black but he was also disabled and the press brushed that over until Davis wrote an op-ed discussing the intersections of race and disability. The fact that his disability was not accounted as a hate crime did not go unnoticed. Davis discloses that ” Could race be equated with disability, whether the history of lynching and slavery could be meaningful equated with occasional violence against people with disabilities.” (pg 494) Race was consider a factor and disability as an after thought and disability is hardly an after thought or a minor category. 16 % of Americans live with a disability; which comprises a minority group with high rates of abuse. Disabled women are raped at higher rates than non disabled women. People with disabilities report that they are harassed on a daily bases by the public or by private institutions. Society has accepted that we are a racist society but has not accepted that we are an ableist society. Through out history disability has been ignored. The two intersect and ableism needs to be taken seriously.
There has been an increasing emphasis on human and civil rights in the United States starting in the era of World War 2. Minorities and women have been speaking and advocating for their rights to gain the privileges, freedoms, and rights guaranteed for all Americans by the Constitution. While that was accomplished other marginalized groups still struggled. Although the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s resulted in legislation that was designed to bar discrimination based on sex, race, and national origins. This did not include prohibition of discrimination based on physical and/or mental disabilities. It was not until 1972 that they included a bill that prohibited discrimination based on physical or mental disability. It was not too long ago that disability was finally recognized as a minority status. It was not until the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that they were consider a “class” of people. This lack of concern by congress is attributed to ignorance, knowledge, and the lack of input from people with disabilities. These bills were done without their input it was more like business as usual pass a bill to appease the masses but with no thought of how it can be implemented.
“Becoming allies means helping each other.” (pg 637) Sometimes that can be hard; standing up to what is right and just when the world is set in a certain way, Becoming an ally exposes you to a strangers wounds. People who engage in alliance they work together by being good allies to each other. When doing alliance work it is important to announce who you are. For example I am an Afro-Latina cisgender woman. One must situate themselves and state what their stance is on particular issues. Allies may also challenge your position it is another way to see if you are trust worthy enough to do this work. The biggest risk of of forming allies is betrayal. Anzaldua speaks of her personal experience. She felt really good being part of the Lesbian community even though it was all white. She realized that due to being Chicana her voice was not heard. That her white counter parts were heard because of their white privilege. She felt they only saw the queer part if her while ignoring her race. She knew that her sexuality and race intersected and needed her counterparts to recognized that. By bringing her race and culture to the conversation in a room full of white people she becomes the educator where that gap of knowledge can be bridged. I also want to note that it is also up to the ally to do the research to bridge that gap of knowledge. Patty Burns from SinsInvalid has done a lot of work in regards to disability justice. Her advocacy work is to make the world accessible for disabled people. As well as bringing more visibility to disabled people; that they have the right to live a normal life just like anyone else that is abled bodied. That the world we live in must include a disability lens.
Adams, Maurianne, et al., editors. Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. 3 edition, Routledge, 2013. 115. Recognizing Ableist Beliefs and Practices and Taking Action as an Ally” (Madeline Peters, et al.)
105. Students with Disabilities Frustrated with Ignorance and Lack of Services (Allie Grasgreen)
103. Go to the Margins of the Class: Disability and Hate Crimes (Lennard Davis)
96. Struggle for Freedom: Disability Rights Movement (Willie Bryan)
90. Becoming an Ally (Nancy Evans and Jamie Washington)
136. Allies (Gloria Anzaldua)