Happy May Day, everyone! It’s a new month, which in my Disability Justice deep dive practice, means a new principle of Disability Justice to explore. What sweet synchronicity to discover that on this May Day, I begin devoted contemplation of the Disability Justice principle #3: Anti Capitalist Politic!
Patty Berne says about this principle: “We are anti-capitalist as the very nature of our mind/bodies resists conforming to a capitalist “normative” productive standard, with the actual construction of “disability” derived from the exploitation of the body in an economy that sees land and human as components of profit, deriding the integrity of our very real crip labor.”
I’m contemplating a few things about ableism these past few days, some of which touch into this principle.
1. Disability having a negative stigma comes, at least in part, from capitalism. Yet I see friends, loved ones and comrades with anti-capitalist politics deeply affected by their own ableism. What will it take to move our movements toward uprooting ableism as part of the work?
2. External and internalized ableism work together. Resisting ableism isn’t just about giving access to *others* who are disabled, but also fully embracing our own body-minds as they are, including when we are or become disabled. For example, adapting when needed, even if it means being seen as disabled. How often do we not participate in things because to do so would require assistance or accommodation of some kind, and this need causes shame? Or how often is it fear of stigma that drives us to “push through” without the assistance that would support our body, thus injuring ourselves further? Through ableism, society teaches us to feel this shame, and of course there are lots of other reasons it’s exhausting and difficult to deal with the ableism of the world — internalized ableism is just one part of that. But as part of my work, I want to question the deep, harmful views I’ve internalized that keep me from engaging in life honestly, and internalized ableism is primary among them. Most often it seems to come back to worth = deserving = able = productive = lovable. I want to untangle these things!
3. There are so many ways we (as a society and as individuals) try to hide or deny or annihilate disability, either by not providing access, not acknowledging disabled folks, abusing disabled folks, putting disabled folks in institutions, hiding ourselves, or not acknowledging or honoring the needs of our own body-minds. We create environments where disability is mostly absent (or a big deal annoyance), which makes it all the more horrifying if we are able-bodied, because it seeds the idea that if we become disabled our lives are over. So, creating liberated, accessible spaces ostensibly for the benefit of disabled people is actually for the benefit of everyone, because our body-minds are always changing and mostly likely we will all experience what we now call “disability.” The more well-supported and liberated disabled people there are, the less afraid we all need to be. Embracing inevitable change rather than resisting it. Embracing these body-minds are they are rather than denying them. Imagine the reduced suffering!
4. Staying connected to the feeling of awe at the miracle of the body, whatever its ability or pain level, does a lot for eliminating internalized ableism. For me, this awe gives rise to joy, which gives rise to curiosity, which gives rise to awareness. Not much room for internalized ableism in there. I keep touching into this when I remember to, and it’s supporting me so much to not add more arrows to the ones already coming from the ableism of the world.
May we all know our true worth, enjoy life fully, and be supported by our communities and our world.
Open for loving critique, and would love to hear your thoughts, friends.