Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Let's stop talking about what Kanye did

...and talk more about WHY he did it.  

If you are angry because Kanye "picked on" a person with a disability or because he singled both of them out (there was also a lady with a prosthetic leg), you might be missing the bigger picture. 

We need to talk about the root of the problem. He stopped his concert for three minutes until the person was forced to "prove" that he was "disabled enough" to not obey the command. And while Kanye has been publicly chastised for it, that act of ableism seems okay to many, many people on a smaller scale in public settings every day. Disagree? Well, have you ever questioned (aloud or in your head) someone who "doesn't look disabled" in an accessible parking space? That's ableism. 

It's the self righteousness attitude of able-bodied people who think they're the "disability police." So many people with disabilities face never ending confrontations and challenges to their rights in their daily public lives: The person with fibromyalgia who gets hassled every time he legally parks in an accessible parking space; the person with the CP or Spina Bifida that can stand for very short periods of time out of their wheelchair who are challenged as "fakers" if they ever get out of that chair in public; the lady at Kanye's concert who had to detach her prosthetic leg and hold it in the air to prove she was allowed to sit down at a public event. 

Why does anyone feel they have the right to demand proof of disability from other people in public situations? AND what about the people at Kanye's concert who had invisible disabilities that might have stopped them from standing for long periods of times. Would they have been publicly shamed until they were forced to stand? 

This is an all too common public opinion that people with disabilities have an "onus of proof" on themselves in order to access the services or things that they need to function in the community. That attitude is more disabling than any disability. 

We as a society need to stop assuming that "everyone else can do everything that I can do" because we ALL have different abilities (disability or not) and not every disability is visible.

By Keith Hosey

Image used with permission

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