Every type of -ism is a form of oppression based on something that is not perceived “normal” by the oppressor. It is a ugly and leads to unwanted consequences. It doesn’t matter what kind of intentions somebody has, it has everything to do with the outcome of the actions done by the person discriminating or putting down somebody else. Many times people think they have good intentions and they may but that doesn’t justify what happens to these people going through the steps to recovery.
Looking at behavior that leads to oppression of others, it often has to do with lack of understanding or lack of compassion. During the Baltimore riot, many people were saying that the term, “I understand” needs to go away and questions should be asked. There is absolutely no reason for anybody to take advantage of somebody else especially to “feel good”. Inspirational porn is one example of unintended ableism by society as a whole. Reaction is often “positive” and people ignore the idea that they’re using the disability as a reason why it’s amazing the person was able to do that single thing at all. Sometimes it’s as simple as walking or riding a bike. If people were to praise somebody for walking simply because they are disabled in the viewer’s eyes, that’s where the ism comes in.
How should the community respond to such behavior? Everybody needs to be taking action and addressing issues as they appear. It’s a distraction when the community focuses on issues within such as personal drama or issues that are nonexistent. The primary issue that needs to be taken care of needs to be focused on rather than petty stuff but the again who decides what is petty and what isn’t? Another issue is the excessive focus on segregating our community from the rest of the world. While it is imperative that there be commitment and dedication to the community as a whole, these actions are harming us more than helping. One example is NAD.
When issues come up, NAD is supposed to be the forerunner in legislative rights and support for the community however they are rarely, if ever, public about their activities until after the fact. While this is understandable, it leads to mistrust and suspicion. NAD is also a very small organization and bears very little legislative power. This is in comparison to some larger civil rights organizations such as NAACP. Wouldn’t it be smarter to utilize power available to the NAACP and become a subsidiary and take advantage of their tools in ways that our community could never imagine possible. That is the issue at hand, there is no effort to collaborate with “outside” organizations. This is merely because of segregation instilled within. We tell everybody they don’t understand and while they don’t, that doesn’t mean we have to completely exclude them from seeing who we are and what the community stands for as a whole.
This is not to say everybody thinks the same way and the problem with segregation is stereotypes are created by those that have no idea who we are and what kind of community and culture we have. It’s very important to pinpoint what we can do with resources available and work together for the greater good. This means utilizing eachother and the organizations we do have already. Call action to media to pay attention to language used to describe us and don’t back down. While not all fight are created equally, finding a way to reduce discrimination, audist behavior, and “ism” territory. Just like International Deaf Emergency has utilized all resources already out there but acting as a bridge, our organizations need to stop being self-centered and focus on finding ways to connect resources from other programs and organizations that may be of more influence. Decide how you will help us all get out from under that thumb of oppression and if it requires reinventing the wheel or performing as a bridge.