Summer 2009 Retreat

Summer 2009 Retreat

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Journal 12 "Disabilities" - Irene Van

Having the privilege of being an able bodied person, I realize that its difficult for me to think about a time where I have ever seen a differently abled person being treated unfairly. I think I have the privilege of not developing the sensitivity to such discrimination. I do not have to worry about ADA accessibility, simple things such as getting through my day, or reading a lecture on the screen. I often do not even see the discrimination that they feel because I am not susceptible to such things. However, I do remember once when a bunch of students were trying to get this one blind person’s attention. They started making fun of him behind their backs because they didn’t know that person was blind. It wasn’t until I confronted them that they stopped all of their bullying. This instance further reinforces the privileges that able bodied people have. The fact that we don’t think first about how a person can possibly be blind is already proof of our privilege.

Also, I think that, although people can be born with certain disabilities, the society plays a huge role in making them feel different, excluded, or inadequate. For instance, a student who has difficulty reading is made to feel crappy every time they read aloud to the classroom. But how often do we actually need to do that in real life? And how does this become a measure for other aspects of them? It doesn’t mean that this person cannot be a great musician, leader, or student in other aspects. But in some ways, it still brings down a person’s self esteem. In a classroom structure that didn’t focus so much on reading aloud, this student could feel very different. So therefore, I think the environment plays a huge role.

And everyone should check out this short speech by Mia Mingus! A queer, disabled, Korean adoptee activist! SOOOO GOOD!

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