BADD Juju (For Blogging Against Disablism Day 2008)

April 30, 2008 at 7:12 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I had this whole earnest, studious, lets not compare impairments or classify each other post, all written up, and ready…

…And then I scrapped it and said “F**k it. Let’s go with some humor.”

It’s spring 1980 and disco will soon die…I’m a senior in high school.

All the sidebar junk I’m about to write about being smart has some relevance, so bear with it.

While not in the highest rank of “No really *we’re* the smartest geeks in the place”

I was a National Merit finalist. There was a picture of me in the yearbook, that had already printed, that *said* I was one of nine or so smart kids on the steps in said photo. I had scored big with two other smart students in the local high school quiz television show. I was taking one Advanced Placement History Class while pulling a four point in the other classes.

Me and a friend were just returning from cutting fourth year French, taught by a guy named Krum Dimitrov.

And, right past the vice principal’s office I slipped and fell.

Out comes the Vice Principal, early to mid forties, a solid citizen and an important educator.

He says, not as a joke, looking right at me…

“Did Jeanie fall down and go boom?”

My friend’s eyes got big and she actually backed away from him.

I was so astonished that he would say such a thing, that I didn’t even answer. Besides, I was a Good Girl back then and couldn’t possibly have said, “Look you empty suit with a title, there’s brains in here, and if you don’t stop treating me like diapers and drool are the height of my day, things will get ugly.”But I gave him the cut eyed nasty look, and I was sure thinking it.

In other words: Ablelist Bad Habit #1 : Treat your disabled student like an infant.

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It’s 1989. Big hair is for other people, as is lots of money. I’m living in another city, in another state

I was trying to fit in at the First Real Job. [Note: This anecdote does not refer in *any* way to my present employer]

I and some other people had been involved in a project and we had finished and done well.

My boss’s boss’s boss had come around to shake everyone’s hand. Except mine. Someone did point out that I’d been involved as well and succeeded with my part.

He then said to me, a married lady of 27 “Good Job!” *and proceeded to pat me on the head several times*

My fists clenched, and if looks could kill he’d have been ashes. And again I said nothing. But at least by ’89 the able co workers were: “Did you *see* what he did? Gawd!” to each other.

In other words: Abelist Bad Habit #2 : Treat your disabled employee like a beloved pet.

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Or a year earlier, at the same employer, a co-worker who shared my cube was threatened if I tried to learn something, was angry that I’d gone to the boss and asked for an earlier shift, *before* she had thought to do so herself, and was angry that I was senior to her because even though we both started on the same day, she had begun as a temp and I had begun as a full time employee…

I began to understand why when she told me a story of a woman with impairments she knew that, in her perception, took advantage both financially and in time spent of my co-worker’s kindness…so obviously, when she saw a gimp in her cube, I was automatically there to hassle her and take advantage of her.

Ableist bad Habit Number Three: Guilt (or Innocence) by association.

We’re different, folks…our levels of ‘needy’ may be huge, or nonexistent or somewhere in between.

“When you’ve met one ________ you’ve met them all,” is a particularly heedless, ill concieved paradigm and doesn’t help with racism or sexism either.

Want to help fight disablism (or ableism, same thing, different country)?

Figure that you might know something about us, but remember you don’t know everything. And, be prepared to lay your preconceived notions at the door.

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