I fight every day to try and make the able-bodied community understand what the disabled community goes through and why we need the rights we have enforced and why we need more appropriate rights that make sense and serve us better written into law. I’m used to the “not in this budget” or “you already have rights it’s called the constitution” or “be glad for what you have and be quiet.” All those come from age, ignorance and attitudes of a time gone by. The ones I can’t stand are the uninformed and untraveled, never left their sofa in their double wide but once watched discovery channel experts.
To give you an example of what I mean, I am multilingual and one day I came on Facebook after waking and said “yassu” to my Greek friends, “previet” to my Russian friends, “Kia-ora” to my Maori friends and “buonegiorno” to the Italians, “boker tov” to Israeli friends and “Konichiwa” to my friend in Tokyo. Shortly after they all replied, someone who I had friended the previous day chimed in with the statement “GOOGLE TRANSLATE MUCH?” Confused I asked what they meant.
The person interjecting the comment came back and said that well everyone knows you don’t speak those languages, you just use Google translate to show off! Even though everyone of my friends came on to back me up and swear they have regular conversations in their native tongue with me the doubter insisted. I asked the doubter for an explanation and their reasoning was if they lived in a trailer park in Oklahoma and had never gone further than the next county and only spoke English then why should I be able to afterall I was no better than them?
So by the reasoning of some, if you excel, if you want to not only dream but fulfill those dreams you must be a liar or you must be a pretender because if you are not, if what lies before them is real, then they must have failed.
Earlier today I was discussing the correct meaning and usage of Russian words. When I pointed out a faux paux I was told 80% of his friends In Adelaide, Australia a town I am expert in, as I grew up there and married there and have children there and know that for every Russian you might meet you’re more likely to meet half a million Italians or Greeks, disagree so that makes him an expert.
I am not denigrating anyones experience. What I was trying to get across, as this person insisted they were correct because they knew 5 or 6 Russians in Adelaide, when 14 years ago I met and married one, moved in with her parents then nursed her mother till her death in 2007, was that ultimately while their opinion and knowledge was valid, I might have something more to share that came from a point of greater experience. My mother-in-law taught me the language, (not promoting myself as a Russian scholar but as competent enough to make myself understood and understand others) the cuisine, the history and since then I speak the language daily and live on a street of Russian Jewish families. I have an extended family of non English speaking people who I interact with every day so when I gave an insider’s view the insults flew and the put downs came out because if I knew more than them they seemed less than.
This is the attitude of our government as well. Recently the Republican Party set up a committee entirely made up of men to decide the rights a woman has over her own body and reproductive system? Whenever we the disability advocates go to speak on Capitol Hill octogenarians make statements like “Nonsense, when I was boy my father was in a chair and he didn’t mind us lifting him and we didn’t need ramps and he didn’t get a pension — why doesn’t your family keep you home?” Or “I see people in wheelchairs in my neighborhood they don’t complain.” What happens is the “I sat next to someone on a bus who went to school with someone who is related to someone who knows a paraplegic so I’m qualified to make decisions as an expert on your life” gets elected to the committee over actual disabled people!
The government has an office of Latino Affairs and it’s run by a Latino and the office of Asian Affairs is run by Asians and yes even the office of African American affairs is run by African Americans. So why is it when you get to the rights of the disabled, an able bodied person with a degree who has no experience being disabled is the expert the government asks when ruling on our lives.
To the government who is asking us to trust and vote for them, we may have our rights walked all over but we can still get to the voting booth. So how about letting women rule their own bodies and the disabled rule on their own lives? Otherwise come Election Day and we the disenfranchised will evoke our STAND YOUR GROUND RIGHTS and claim you threaten our safety and well being and vote your threatening body out of office. It works for the rednecks who shoot innocent black youth maybe it will work for us.