Friday, December 3, 2010

International Day of Persons With Disabilities

Today is International Day of Persons With Disabilities. On this day, I encourage you all to be out and proud disabled persons, or if you are non-disabled, allies and friends of disabled persons. I know that on this day I am extremely proud to be disabled, however many hardships that may bring me, it also brings me a unique, beautiful perspective on the world and infinite opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Today we celebrate OUR history, OUR culture, and OUR accomplishments that are so often belittled and forgotten by the rest of society. Instead of remembering Rosa Parks in the front of the bus, we remember the first ADAPT action, where a bunch of feisty crips blocked the road with their chairs, demanding buses with lifts. We remember Ed Roberts, who fought for the right to go to college and have personal attendant services - and won. We mourn the loss of Laura Hershey, who contributed some of the most striking and beautiful poetry as well as a rip-roaring activist spirit to our movement.

Today we soak in OUR art and OUR talent. We dance, we sing, we create. We acknowledge that people with disabilities have contributed more than some may think to the arts and society as a whole. We are Shameless.

Today we recognize how very far we have come - and realize that we still have a long way to go. We applaud the strides that laws like the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act have made for us. But we are sobered by the fact that our civil rights - which should be set in stone - unfortunately are not, and even now our rights are threatened every day by inaccessible public places, crappy transportation, and separate and unequal treatment. On this day and every day, we continue to fight for those rights, and we will fight until we have the rights we deserve - both in principle AND in practice.

On this day, we celebrate all across the world. On this day, we are not pitied, ashamed, stereotyped or patronized. We are proud.