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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

When You Say Ableism Isn't Real

I originally prepared this poem for a school project called Tunnel of Oppression. That project is on hold right now, but the message is still important, especially as we face the threat of attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Contact your Senator by phone, text, mail, or social media. Let them know that HR 620 makes it difficult to enforce our civil rights. They can be reached at 202-224-3121 or on the Senate website And don't let anyone say, not even for a moment, that ableism isn't real. It's a scary time to be disabled in America, but we will rise.

"I adamantly protest the richest culture in the history of
the world which still incarcerates millions of humans with
and without disabilities in barbaric institutions,
backrooms and worse, windowless cells of oppressive
perceptions, for the lack of the most elementary
empowerment supports.

I call for solidarity among all who love justice, all who
love life, to create a revolution that will empower every
single human being to govern his or her life, to govern the
society and to be fully productive of life quality for self
and for all."

-Justin Dart

When You Say Ableism Isn't Real
By Kathleen Downes

You think ableism isn’t real? That must be charming, to be so privileged you can overlook it all

What if I told you it was common for people to say “I’d rather be dead than disabled”?
That the media constantly tells us that disabled means ugly, tragic, and helpless?
That looking for a bathroom accessible to us is a scavenger hunt?

If only a damn place to pee were as easy to find
As a thousand stale wheelchair jokes and ignorant stereotypes.

What if I told you we grow up knowing that being disabled too often means being poor?
That having more than $2000 could mean losing the care we need to get out of bed?
That a small change in health policy could land us in a nursing home?

Could you ignore ableism then?

If only a damn job were as easy to find
As a hundred broken elevators and staring strangers.

What if I told you when you say “as long as my baby’s healthy”, I hear “Hope it’s not like you?”
That people have asked what my purpose is, if I need help with so many things?
That I can’t go to the doctor without wondering if I’ll be treated like a child?

If only a damn ramp were as easy to find
As a million rude questions about my body.

I could tell you so many more things
But we would be here all night.

So, go ahead. Tell me again that ableism isn’t real.

[Captioned video below]

[Video frame shows Kathleen, seated in a wheelchair, reading her poem aloud. She wears a blue dress shirt with white dots and glasses. Her hair is in a ponytail].

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cripples at Christmas 2017

 The 2017 edition of my annual Christmas cartoons. Image descriptions are below each cartoon. Have a great holiday season and don't forget to dig your wheelchair using friends out of the mounds of snow that will inevitably be dumped on the curb cut. 

       Santa proudly paid the bail when the misfit toys were arrested for protesting Medicaid cuts. A group of misfit toys including the spotted elephant, square-wheeled train, and Charlie in the box are holding picket signs that say #SaveMedicaid. The spotted elephant is saying “I’ve never been prouder to be on the naughty list.”

1          Concerned about his poor spatial skills, the sheep led the shepherd with CP to Bethlehem.
Three sheep are leading a shepherd in a wheelchair who is holding a staff. One sheep is saying “So we’re not traditional. Who cares?”

1        Elf in the Overpriced Posture Support Chair lacked the same ring as Elf on the Shelf. Two ambulatory elves stand on a shelf. Below them, an elf sits in a chair with handles and a backrest. He is saying “Oh well. They say the shelf is overrated anyway.”

1      The CPer’s mishap with Dragon Naturally Speaking* accidentally landed her on the naughty list.
A stick figure in a wheelchair is saying “I swear Santa; I meant to type Easy Bake Oven, not Easy B*tch Oven.” Santa replies, “That is quite the typo!”

*Dragon is a speech to text software to facilitate hands free typing.

1       The athletes in the adapted reindeer games were sick of being treated like “inspiration porn.” A reindeer wearing dark glasses is saying “My story’s not even particularly touching. I was blinded by a flying gumdrop!” Another reindeer, with slightly askew eyes looking in different directions is saying “Preach brother!” A nearby sign reads SPECIAL REINDEER SHOW COURAGE BY EXISTING.”

   The two guests with CP* found each other at the interfaith holiday celebration. One stick figure in a wheelchair is saying “No one ever asks me to light the Figgie Pudding. Something about motor skills.” Another stick figure in a wheelchair is saying “Same with me and the menorah. Same sh*t, different holiday.”

*CP= cerebral palsy

1   The wheelie could not understand why everyone hoped he wasn’t their Secret Santa. A stick figure in a wheelchair with a Santa hat is saying “I thought the jumbo box of healthcare gloves was a cool gift!” A walking stick figure with a Santa hat is saying “Don’t take this the wrong way, but most people want chocolate or something.”

      Eager to jump on the ugly sweater party trend, the rehab catalog added some overpriced magnetic zippers to a sweater and declared it “special”.

One sweater is labeled UGLY- $20.00. Another is labeled SPECIAL AND UGLY- $200.00. Bottom text says “Sweaters that make you say ho ho ho. Prices that make you say ho ho holy sh*t!”

1   The disabled gingerbread man could not sleep in heavenly peace because he had no PA* to put him in bed.
A gingerbread man with candy cane style walking canes is saying “Sleep in heavenly peace? I wish I could sleep at all!”

*PA= personal assistant

1     Riding the North Pole Paratransit bus was known among the regulars as “Jingle Hell.” A stick figure in a wheelchair wearing a Santa hat is saying “Still waiting… maybe I’ll get to the Christmas party by Easter.”

       The Kit Kat bar shortage greatly impacted the quest for accessible housing in the gingerbread village.
A gingerbread man stands beside a gingerbread house and a nearby sign reads: RAMP CONSTRUCTION CURRENTLY ON HOLD. The gingerbread man is saying “Kit Kats make such good ramps!”

   We won’t go until we get some,” they said. Then Access-A-Ride showed up an hour early.
A stick figure in a wheelchair is singing, “We all want some Figgie pudding…” and stops abruptly states: “Oh, never mind! Gotta go before the bus leaves!” Another wheelie is saying “Damn it. They’re usually late!”