Well, since yesterday morning I have been busy making up words to describe the situation that the disability community is suddenly in…
Of all the words I have tried, I think “serendipitest” is my favorite! As in, the 2008 Presidential Election is the serendipitest situation the disability community has ever been in! (My son says my poetic license is about to be revoked!)
But seriously folks—is this not an amazing opportunity?
For those of you who slept through yesterday, Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska—who has a child with Down syndrome—has been named as McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election.
So now we have a candidate whose stance on disability is detailed on his website, and the other candidate who has not posted a position on disability, but is running with the parent of a child with a disability… hmmmm….
Whether you favor the Democrats or the Republicans in this election, these candidates and the publicity that will surround them present a GREAT opportunity to increase exposure and understanding.
Already today the national press has exposed the country’s ignorance about disability in general and about Down syndrome specifically. We have heard the all kinds of ‘person last’ and ‘person missing’ descriptions. We have heard ever-so-objective reporting about Down syndrome using words like “afflicted” and “suffering with” (bleah!)
And, in a failed attempt to be Relevant (with a capital R) Katie Couric and her co-newsperson discussed whether having a son with Down syndrome made Mrs. Palin unfit for office.
I am not at all sure that being the parent of a baby with a disability QUALIFIES a person for office by itself, but I am quite certain it doesn’t DISQUALIFY them…..
They had to say something… I guess.
Folks, this is a “sticky” moment. We have laid groundwork with years of building inclusion in our communities, we stirred the pot a bit with visible protests of Tropic Thunder this summer. The world is ready to hear from us.
I wrote a post on making waves a few weeks ago: well the waves are rolling in, if we stand up now we can surf our way to some new understanding. Presence, and Credence, builds Influence, which leads to more Presence…..and more Credence… yielding more Influence… and so on!
To the credit of the National Down Syndrome Congress and National Down Syndrome Society they put out a press release with accurate information about Down syndrome and person-first language yesterday.
Last night I saw video of institutions in Serbia—do you think having the parent of a child with a disability running for a national office could show new possibilities to people in other countries?
It could if we used it that way.
If you have been planning public awareness campaigns, release them now.
If you formed some new relationships during your protest of Tropic Thunder, pull folks back together and plan some next steps.
Self-advocates and parents and professionals alike: flood your newspaper with letters and essays.
Publicize your regular events—especially the fun ones—wouldn’t hurt to fundraise now either!
I am the mother of three, wife of one. I am a Partners in Policymaking graduate and a committed disability advocate. I want to catch up on my scrapbooking, learn more about art-journaling, get my house in order, read all the books I have set aside to read and change the world--not necessarily in that order. The opinions in this blog are my own and not those of any of employers.