Today, communities across the nation come together to recognize the 33rd anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Traditionally, all of July, and specifically July 26, is a time when we lift up disability pride, disability justice, and disability rights. The disability movement includes a very wide ranging mosaic of communities, but collectively, we traditionally come together in July to focus on what all of those mean together: disability power and liberation. Let’s reflect on a few important things.
Our freedom is connected to the freedom of every oppressed group. That means that where any person is treated as less than human, we are all diminished. Access Living is in solidarity with immigrants, LGTBQIA+ persons, indigenous communities, all communities of color, poor people, people impacted by the criminal system, and anyone who knows what it is like to fight to survive. We are not separate; we are one. When some of us face attacks, all of us have to pitch in.
Our souls are fed through mutual support and learning. The struggle is difficult, but we are strengthened through sharing our stories, our knowledge and our love amongst each other. No one can know everything about disability. Instead, accept the challenge to learn about disability all your life. Be part of the person-to-person connection that helps us all get through the struggle.
Our civil rights must be defended and expanded. We can never take our current rights for granted…but neither are they perfect. The ADA, and the entire body of disability rights laws that are designed to advance access and equality, are important for improving the lives of millions of disabled people. However, we face consistent attacks on those rights because of vicious stereotypes about disabled people. And, we know that not every disabled person has equal access to protection under disability rights. Equality is not the same as equity. We have to keep fighting for equity, where no disabled person is left behind in realizing their fullest potential.
We can do this….but we need to keep practicing to be proud!
The poem "You Get Proud by Practicing" by poet Laura Hershey contains the following important lines: Remember, you weren’t the one who made you ashamed, but you are the one who can make you proud. Just practice, practice until you get proud, and once you are proud, keep practicing so you won’t forget. You get proud by practicing. Read the full text of Hershey's poem at this link, and then take some time today to read it to yourself. And then...read it to someone who needs a little extra support!
For those who like to celebrate by learning more about our movement, check out the following resources:
PBS has a terrific series of free online videos about the disability movement (see this link for the PBS videos).
Another great source to learn about disability is the Disability Visibility Project, which has a wide range of material covering many different communities in our movement (see this link for the Disability Visibility Project).
Take the time to honor YOU today.
Thank you for being part of the disability movement! May disability pride, disability justice, and disability rights endure.