reflections related to disability advocacy, family and (needed) cultural change
Friday, March 20, 2009
Say It Isn't So, Mr. President
Actually, I know it is so... Last night on Jay Leno the President of the United States bemoaned his poor bowling skill saying that "it was as if he were in Special Olympics or something."
And sensing there had been a gaffe his staff stated to somebody that the President really respects Special Olympics.
See, here's the deal Mr. President,
I know it was off hand and unintentional. I know you nearly never make disparaging remarks about races, genders, creeds, sexual orientations or other differences. I know that you support people with disabilities in many, many ways. And you never talk about diversity without including those with disabilities.
And that's the point.
Ableism is so ingrained in our society that even our FRIENDS don't recognize it.
It's not that this was the worst gaffe in the world, and heaven knows it wasn't the worst we've ever heard--nor will it be the last, I'm sure.
It does, however, have more.... cachet... shall we say, coming from the president.
I am only speaking for myself when I say this, I am willing to forgive, but I do have something to ask:
Do something about this that matters.
There are a ton of opportunities this month alone to take a stand that could turn this negative moment into something that makes things better in our culture for people with disabilities.
3/31 is Spread the Word to End the Word day--a day to unite to ask for respectful language about disability--specifically to teach about the hurtful effect of "the R-word." It is sponsored by Special Olympics and there are cool t-shirts!
There are bills coming before congress soon with the power to build new possibility for those with disabilities like the Community Choice Act (scheduled for 3/24 last I heard), the CLASS Act... and others.
The president of the AUCD gave testimony before the HELP committee yesterday about the value of the University Centers of Excellence on Disability and the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental (and related) Disabilities programs that they run.
And that's just what I can come up in my bleary early morning state.
Make a statement, not an apology to a program--great though it is--make a statement that brings recognition and respect to people with disabilities.
Help the disability community by turning this stumbling block into a stepping stone (or better yet, a ramp!)
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.