equality is what motivated Laura and me to participate in the San Francisco action. We and 20 other members of NDSU from across the country traveled there to make a statement against exclusion and segregation. Yet that is exactly what we experienced, and from our own people.
Recently, someone posted this question to the Justice For All listserv: “Where were the NDSU representatives and people from California at the ADAPT action?”
We were there, we are here, but perhaps you can't see us because you are patrolling the boundaries so carefully, ensuring that your own piece of the pie (or elevator or parking space, as the case may be) is not threatened.
When we perpetuate discrimination within the movement — and we surely do — our efforts to combat segregation and exclusion in the wider world will remain limited and hollow.
Let us, as a community, get down to and understand the root causes of the low rate of participation in our movement. I believe we will uncover a disability rights movement, a system, that does not lend itself to the needs of many. We must devise a means by which to change that system.
If you don’t believe that the disability rights movement is unwelcoming and hypocritical, then talk to a disabled person from a non-Western culture, or to someone with a cognitive disability, or to a psychiatric survivor, or an atheist or a queer disabled person, or to one of us who is non-white, or dirt poor.
Since its founding, the disability rights movement has served as a strong voice for radical, revolutionary change. It cannot remain a force for change so long as it refuses to evaluate and adapt itself. When the strategies we use exclude or single out our brothers and sisters, allow participation by only those who can afford it, and rely on a tactic of secrecy when secrecy creates an access barrier for our brothers and sisters with cognitive and other disabilities, then our movement has become the very thing we joined up to fight.
We hope this statement will not be viewed as an effort to create internal division. Instead, our purpose with this statement is to challenge all of us — NDSU included — to take the disability rights movement to a higher level of inclusivity and equality, to recognize and celebrate, in the words of Cal Montgomery, “the many different fabrics out of which the disability cloth is made." All participants in the movement must be valued within it. Our movement must welcome them home.
by Larry Biondi
The disability community is like a big family. And, like members of a family, we don’t always agree.
Physician-assisted suicide is one of those issues where we aren’t seeing eye to eye. Some in our community feel that independent living is all about autonomy and that ending one’s own life is an exercise of autonomy. But opponents of giving physicians the right to kill us counter that there’s no autonomy when we’re not given an alternative to death. I am one of those opponents.
When an able-bodied person is thinking about suicide, physicians do whatever they can to prevent it. When one of us thinks about suicide, the doctors and do-gooders jump right in to “help,” taking us off life supports with no questions asked, no alternatives given. Why can’t some of us understand this crucial difference?
Members of Not Dead Yet and other advocates were pissed when Michael Jenkins, head of the New Hampshire Developmental Disability Planning Council invited Peter Singer to speak at its “Genetics and Bioethics Concerns” conference back in October. Singer is the guy who says publicly that killing a baby with a disability during the first 28 days of life is acceptable.
Not Dead Yet told Jenkins that inviting Singer to address the forum is like asking the Grand Klugel of the KKK to keynote at an NAACP conference.
Jenkins replied that he believes we should confront the enemy on our own turf. Not Dead Yet founder Diane Coleman then told Jenkins, “It is sad that many in the disability community can still be so confused, unresolved, unfocused, insecure or unable to truly envision our own equality that we would invite a major symbol and messenger of oppression into our own house.” New Hampshire members of Not Dead Yet protested against Singer during his speech.
MOUTH JANUARY -FEBRUARY 2002 PAGE 11