May Day redux: Blogging Against Disablism Day

A logo for Blogging Against Disablism Day (image courtesy of the blog Diary of a Goldfish)

Yesterday I discussed the Immigration Reform Rallies that took place all over the U.S. on May Day (May 1st). Today I want to focus on the 2010 Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) which also happened on May Day. FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m an able-bodied white cisgender girl who (though paying back a mountain of student loans) was able to attend graduate school (which has class implications) and is in a heterosexual relationship . . . meaning I have more privileges stacked in my favor than most.  I try my best to be conscious of my privileges and to use them to undo systems of oppression that equate privileges with certain identity markers. In my life and my work in girls studies, I would say that I’ve done a fair job of pointing out racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, transphobia . . . but one area that I need to improve upon is  pointing out and speaking up about ableism. It’s with this in mind that I jump head first into Blogging Against Disablism Day and share some insightful posts on the topic.

I first started thinking about this post when I read the interview (you can listen to it too) Kjerstin Johnson did with Chally, over at BitchMedia. In the piece Chally discusses what it means for her to be a teenage feminist and areas she thinks could use improvement within feminist movements. She also offers a great list of young bloggers to follow, which I totally stole from (thank you Chally!) and added to my ever-growing list on the side. Turns out that Chally, who describes herself as “Australian, non-white, cis, disabled, a reader, a writer, a woman and a feminist” writes for various blogs including Zero at the Bone (her personal blog) and FWD/Forward: Feminists with Disabilities for a Way Forward.

In visiting these  blogs, I decided to take a cue from this FWD/Forward piece titled “Go educate yourself (please!)” – in which Annaham talks about how abled people are responsible for their own education on ableism and that it is not the job of people with disabilities “to make abled people feel comfortable, to hold their hands as they have a Very Special Learning Experience (most often, it seems, at our expense), or to make them feel good about themselves.”

Following Annaham’s advice, here are some blog posts abled people can read to gain a greater understanding of the ableist privileges I and others take advantage of every single day . . . often without thinking twice. I certainly don’t mean to ghettoize ableism into one post and then forget about it for the rest of the time I write on this blog – rather I’m committing myself to recognizing ableism as an equally crucial form of oppression alongside the familiar systems I’ve been taught to focus on in school. I also recognize that by merely blogging about ableism I am not casting off my privileges as an abled person, but this is my small (very small) first step to acknowledging and hopefully eventually undoing the privileges I have, but have never earned.

Since I use this blog to focus on girls, I’d like to highlight 3 posts by Chally that grabbed my attention:

1. Aware of what exactly?: in which Chally deconstructs the patronizing language and views exhibited in an Indianna news story on Sarah Schelstraete, a woman with Down Syndrome.

2. How are you?: this piece reminded me of the post on The Sexist regarding when men ask women they don’t know on the street to smile. In “How are you?” Chally discusses how this seemingly simple and polite question can be offensive, especially when – as she points out – most abled people do not care to hear about the daily distress people with disabilities may face.

3. On writing about disability: In this piece Chally explains why does what she does: “It’s particularly important that we ourselves, who are so often denied our voices, so often silenced, tell these stories. So I am telling mine and doing my bit to support the voices of those like me.”

There’s also this post over at Feministe, in which Cara discusses ableist language. It’s worth reading as it made me think about the words and phrases I use everyday.

This is a smattering of amazing conscious raising posts on ableism and the daily lives and realities of people with disabilities. Hopefully this small sample has inspired you to read more, and like Annahm suggests, educate yourself. For further reading I suggest checking out the blog Diary of a Goldfish, which  has organized a ton of blog posts in relation to 2010 Blogging Against Disablism Day.

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~ by actyourage09 on May 5, 2010.

2 Responses to “May Day redux: Blogging Against Disablism Day”

  1. Thanks so much for writing about this, K. I will try to incorporate the points discussed in the linked entries into my own work as well.

  2. Thanks very much! 🙂

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