Where do I begin? My Brown Leadership Institute program was probably the best two weeks of my life. I made lifelong friends and learned so much. I renewed my passions for all things social justice, but especially for ableism. Ablesm is so unknown that my computer is trying to autocorrect the word. This blog post will be about ableism, which affects all of us and this topic provides me the opportunity to talk about my Brown experience.
Ableism: (n) discrimination in favor of able-bodied people
I’ve always felt some sense of ableism. Things are just easier when you’re able-bodied. You don’t have to worry about finding a separate entrance, you don’t have to wonder why people are staring, and you don’t have to constantly fight with bureaucratic systems. I don’t want you to think I resent able-bodied people, because I don’t. However, I am offended when people look down on me, or pass me over for things because of my disability.
I think the reason no one has heard of ableism is because people think it’s natural and okay to pity disabled people. But we are strong and capable, not pitiable. There seems to be little thought given to the discrimination against disabled persons. Perhaps this is because able-bodied people haven’t given much thought to or fought against ableism. Many successful racism campaigns were successful because both the affected and those not affected joined forces. I’m not trying to equate ableism to racism I’m just trying to compare effective tactics.
As someone who is looking into colleges I know something I have to consider is accessibility and how accommodating the college will be. Even if I fall in love with a school if the school doesn’t have those two things I won’t be able to go there, which isn’t fair.
Part of my Brown program was coming home with an Action Plan. I’m not going to go into a ton of details here, but basically my project is going to be focusing on accessibility and accommodations with colleges. I think this is a huge step in bringing awareness to ableism and eventually ending it.
If you have any experiences with ableism please share or any experiences with college – both good or bad – please share those as well.
I hope you’re all doing well and are enjoying summer!