HomeabelismDisability Rights ARE Civil Rights


Adjusting to this new job has really been hard on me. I wanted to get this entry up before last week’s chat, but it just didn’t happen.

Last week’s AbilityChat topic, making disability more visible, has been on my mind for a long time.


That’s part of why I started this blog so long ago, right?

One of the problems with many of the larger civil rights movements is how blind they are to their own faults. When I bring up disability in those discussions, people are usually quick to include it. Sometimes, I run into those who’d like nothing more to shut me down.

Usually, they come back with the line “Well, we have to start SOMEWHERE!”

Yes, of course. And you’ve already started. In fact, most of the movements have been going on for generations. It’s time to evolve our inclusiveness. Let’s look at a few examples.

Body Positive Feminism
Body positivity almost always includes different skin colors and body shapes, but seldom any sort of disability. If an estimated 20% of the population has some sort of disability, why is it rarely ever thought about?

Look at Barbie. They just released a new line of dolls with different body types, hair and skin colors. The only disabled Barbie that I’ve seen on the market is in a wheelchair. Physical disabilities come in many different flavors. Invisible disabilities can be incorporated into books and videos currently on the market.

Disabled people are beautiful, too, but without representation, that can be a hard message to convey.

Income Inequity
Discussions on income constantly revolve around gender and race, but the group with the greatest demonstrable income inequity is people with disabilities. Why is that not mentioned?

According to the January 2016 report from the US Department of Labor, 10.8% of people with disabilities are unemployed, compared to the 5.1% of those without. 67.9% of the labor force is made up of people without disabilities, while 19.5% have some form of disability. This has nothing to do with “laziness” and everything to do with cultural attitudes.

As mentioned in past entries, I’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace first hand. My cases were mild in comparison to what others have dealt with. Even programs put in place to help more severely disabled people find work, thus improving the economy, are often the first to have their funding cut.

Police Brutality and School Performance
Why are people of color with disabilities consistently left out of conversations about police brutality within mainstream social media hashtags or news stories? This article over on the Daily Beast talks about the brutality faced by disabled people at the hands of police. Race matters in disability as much as it does in the wider conversation in this particular topic.

What about kids with autism and other disabilities being arrested from school? How about the educational performance gap there?

If we want to live in a culture that even approaches an ideal of equality, we need to discuss the ongoing problems people with all kinds of disability face on a day to day basis and develop solutions from there.

It’s way past time we call out this exclusion in our wider civil rights movements. Disability is a part of every single demographic, and those who live with it are every bit as human as anyone else.

We’re all equal. We should be treated as such.

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