What About Disability Pride?
When doing research for a conference activity, I came across this information:
In 1990, The First Disability Pride day was in Boston and Independence marches occurred in NYC. In 2004, Chicago had its first Disability Pride Parade. NYC's first Disability Pride Parade was in 2015. Overall, in the USA, only 15 cities have ever hosted a Disability Pride parade.
This seemed outrageous to me. But then I remembered the Eugenics movement was started here. There is a concise description of this in Silverman’s book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which I highly recommend. But despite the public reaction to the genocide of the Holocaust and many years of pro-diversity ideals, there are still remnants of this awful movement. Take for example the obvious white supremacist groups, or the more subtle and pervasive attitudes towards prenatal Downs Syndrome testing, resistance to making public places ADA accessible, or even in the museum field where accessibility and inclusion work is often seen as “extra” work and seen as separate from the “main” job.
Stigma and ableism seem to be still keeping people from acknowledging that 12% of people in the US have a disability, or the fact that as we age, we will all likely suffer some form of disability.
I am writing about this because the NYC Disability Parade is happening this Sunday, July 14, and I will not be able to be there. I will be working a museum family access program, which is also important, but I am a bit disappointed that the museums I work for don’t seem to be more riled up about marching in support in the parade.
WIth the recent LGBTQetc Pride parade in NYC there has been a lot of criticism about the way it has been taken over by big corporations as a marketing scheme, rather than the remembrance of the struggles advocates have fought and continue to fight for. This NPR Podcast (https://www.npr.org/2019/04/17/714212984/hidden-brain-americas-changing-attitudes-toward-gay-people) makes the claim that one reason for the LGBTQ movement’s success has been the sheer number of people in every field, workplace, home, etc who identify that way. The personal connection with someone who comes Out could change a person’s mind. If that is indeed a pivotal factor in changing people’s attitudes, then Disability Visibility is crucial.
In case you have not encountered it yet, I recommend the Disability Visibility Podcast by Alice Wong. https://disabilityvisibilityproject.com/podcast/ And, if you feel safe and secure in your employment to do so, make other people aware of your disability. Come Out as disabled, as it were. In fact the Netflix series “Special” tackled this same idea, and the main character discovers their own ableism.
For my part, I am going to share a knitting chart of the newer disability icon. Feel free to become a craftivist and make something with this to wear as an advocate or ally.
Below is an image of a loop scarf I made for members of the access team at one of the museums I work for. I later embroidered “access team” on the navy background. This way at the museum, when employees wear these scarves we are creating awareness that accessibility is a value the museum explicitly supports.
http://disabilitypridenyc.org/our-history/, https://www.abilitystrongparade.org/history.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disability_Pride_Parades, https://www.abilities.com/community/disability-pride-parade.html