Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Microaggressions Project

The term microaggressions was originally used to describe racialized experiences.

The Microaggressions Project seeks to provide a place to post events, observations and experiences of microaggressions [defined by the authors as subtle ways in which body and verbal language convey oppressive ideology about power or privilege against marginalized identities.]

"Often, they are never meant to hurt- acts done with little conscious awareness of their meanings and effects... their slow accumulation during a childhood and over a lifetime is in part what defines a marginalized experience, making explanation and communication with someone who does not share this identity particularly difficult."

What I like about this project is how it encompasses so many experiences. A quick glance at the front page includes a deaf person, gender issues, racial issues, LGBT issues, and more - particularized experiences with details about how people feel as recipients of microaggressions that are far too common.

I also like that

"This project is NOT about "showing how ignorant people can be in order to simply dismiss their ignorance. Instead, it is about showing how these comments create and enforce uncomfortable, violent and unsafe realities onto peoples’ workplace, home, school, childhood/adolescence/adulthood, and public transportation/space environments. "

This article addresses how experiencing microaggressions throughout a day from other people or the environment affects people with a disability.

If anyone thinks it's not a big deal to have your space intruded upon with microaggresssions, go on over and read a bit. If you're experiencing microaggressions, go on over and post what's happening.

To learn more about becoming an ally, check out the video below.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poem from March 21, 2011

I'm catching up on posting a few things here :)

You await me in the stillness of
Ever present peace
Yes I pray
Yearning all day
For silence

Ruth Harrigan Copyright 2011

NEW SITE ANNOUNCEMENT: Parents and self advocates...

in the disability community, please check out and consider joining the Special Needs Directory.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amputee bike riding

Wes talks about bike riding and rock climbing experiences as an amputee. His video shows footage at his college campus where he is attending a graduate program.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Would you please move your van over so I can park illegally ?

So here's a new one.

A guy asked me to move my van (although it was parked legally within the blue lines) so he could park in the hash tags after I exited my van. I told him that parking in the hash tags is illegal. Undeterred he told me that he did it all the time and he has handicap plates. I repeated it's illegal because it blocks van users from getting in and out. Then he assured me that blocking me in wasn't an issue. And it isn't - for him.

Hash tags are not an extra parking spot.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

7 year old writes book to raise money for service dog

Read all about Evan here

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A difficult affair

I've realized the limits of language this week. I'm in the process of hiring new aides or, as some might say, replacing aides.

Those words are ridiculously inadequate.

I can't replace a person. Each aide I work with is unique. Every time I interview someone, I look for certain qualities. Reliability - because I need them to show up. Willingness - so they can be my hands and legs.

I'm feeling impatient with words. I hate that I can't explain what this process is like to friends. How do I know who will work out? I don't. I can't replace someone's sense of humor or another's caring touch.

I guess at what a person will be like in moments when I need them most. And that feels inadequate too.

I know it's a leap of faith. And so I choose someone.

Sometimes they make the choice, like the woman who walked into the interview, stared at my wheelchair and said she couldn't handle it. I smiled thinking I already knew that with the sense I've developed. This works the other way too, like a very young man whose smile lights up the room when he talks about how he'd love a job like this and why.

More interviews on the way. The music student who says he can play the violin for me. The out of work dad who just wants a shot at any job. The college students who mostly want a summer job for a summer that's almost over.

This is a permanent position, I tell them. I know that's an illusion, that although some aides stay for years, others move on quickly.

And so must I.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not so smart car

One of my friends who works in the corporate world has been having an ongoing issue with parking her car in the employee lot so she can get into work. She has an accessible vehicle with a ramp so it requires a handicap spot with hashtag area to lower the ramp.

Anyway the company did provide a van accessible spot but other employees, mostly those without any disabled placard or plates, park in it irregardless of the fact that it's not only marked as a handicap parking spot but as reserved.

The other day a smart car without a disabled placard parked there. She said it was a very small smart car, so she parked next to it in a regular spot and was able to put her ramp down because of the extra room. When she came out the not so smart car had been towed.

I couldn't help chuckling though at the image of a smart car in a handicap spot with room left for the ramp on her car to go down, labeled not so smart car.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Get a boundary

I used to be shocked when I first became disabled by the rude and really intrusive questions and things some people said to me. After awhile, I realized that others with disabilities also dealt with this too.

It happens with strangers, but I've also experienced it with aides, which can be a problem since they are privy to private information anyway. They come into our homes and have access to information most nondisabled folks can choose to keep private This makes us vulnerable When aides misconstrue their job and don't treat a disabled person as an autonomous adult, boundary violations occur frequently.

There are a shortage of aides around here, but I draw the line when my boundaries repeatedly get crossed. I speak up and tell the aide her behavior is inappropriate. Some, unfortunately, escalate while others pull back on what they do, stung by my "lack of gratitude" for their unwarranted advice on what I should eat, how I should do things or how they would handle this or that. This is usually no big loss as I find that aides who are doing their job right dont have time to spew advice and opinions.

I'd rather do without the help than deal with a constant stream of inappropriate comments. Being physically dependent should not mean we have to listen to unsolicited advice or criticism about how we live, what we eat or wear, or any other aspect of our life from someone who is paid to physically assist us.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence days

Nadal is fighting back in the third set of the men's finals at Wimbledon. Tennis matches are never over until the last ball is hit. Tennis taught me a lot about battling through to the end and never giving up.

And so it goes with making inroads with disability rights. Sad to say our rights as people with disabilities are usually things taken for granted by non disabled folks, like being allowed into restaurants or being able to get products that are accessible or aisles that allow us to get in and out or even just being able to get housing or transportation.

The latter explains why the former still goes on. We have an invisible housebound and institutionalized population of people with disabilities who don't even get out, much less assert their rights. The fact that this is okay is not okay.

Tomorrow is July 4 here in the States. Independence Day. I will say a prayer for my brothers and sisters who don't have independence. And then I will continue to use the independence I have to make inroads, as all of us who can must do.