I delivered this talk at the Community Christian Church on May 13, 2018. It has been lightly edited.
CW: Calling out disablist language
Last week, I shared some reflections on disability justice, in light of the recent legislative attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whenever I encounter unjust situations like this, whether it is disablism, racism, misogyny, gender and sexuality antagonisms, and the like, the question that tends to linger in my mind is – why in the world do we go along with this stuff? Horrible things are happening, we witness or hear about them, and, almost inevitably, someone is there to insist that it’s not that bad, that we’ve just misunderstood the situation, or that it has been worse in the past. It is as if, although oppression may exist, apparently oppressors do not. Do any of these sound familiar?
• “That was a long time ago; can’t you just get over it?”
• “Be patient with him; he’s just set in his ways, but he’s not a bad guy.”
• “You have to overlook some of what she says; she doesn’t mean it that way.”
• “Honestly, it’s not because of race; we decided to go in a different direction.”
• “Well, I don’t agree with how they treated you, but everyone has a right to their own opinion.”
And, perhaps most famously –
• “Take it easy; it’s just a joke.
I delivered this talk at the Community Christian Church on May 6, 2018. It has been lightly edited.
Recent Attacks to the ADA and Accessibility
Unless you are involved in the disability justice movement, it is possible that you have never heard of HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017. The idea of pushing a bill that attacked the Americans with Disabilities Act was not new, having most recently been introduced in 2015, but past attempts didn’t get much traction. But in 2018, times have changed, and HR 620 got enough steam to attract 108 co-sponsors, including Missouri’s own Jason Smith (8th district in the southeast), Blaine Luetkemeyer (3rd district, which includes Jefferson City and St. Louis), and, of course, Billy Long (7th district, from right here in southwest Missouri). As Sara Novic with NBC News summed it up, “On Feb. 15, while the country had its eye on allegations of Russian election meddling and the senseless murder of 17 people in the Parkland school shooting, the House was quietly gutting the Americans With Disabilities Act, passing H.R. 620 with a vote of 225-192.” (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/gop-s-h-r-620-will-gut-americans-disabilities-act-ncna850261 ) The bill was received in the Senate on February 26, 2018.