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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].