Today was the eighth annual Disability Pride Parade in Chicago! If I were still in Chicago, I definitely would have been there with my friends in support. As it is, I am not, and so I am writing this instead. Go check out their website and mission statement: it’s pretty fierce.
The Disability Pride Parade’s website states that its overall mission is as follows:
- To change the way people think about and define “disability”;
- To break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and
- To promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride.
Disability rights (and combating ableism) are definitely issues with which I don’t have a lot of experience or knowledge, but I am trying to educate myself. It involves a new way of thinking, but isn’t that how it is when challenging most forms of privilege?
I think it’s really great that the Disability Pride Parade exists. Pride and visibility are so important to building any kind of movement: it’s hard to stand up for yourself when you’re ashamed of who you are, and it’s difficult to stand together as a community if you’re trying to blend in. The following is part of Disability rights activist Sarah Triano‘s definition of “Disability Pride” for the Encyclopedia of Disability:
Disability Pride is an integral part of movement building, and a direct challenge to systemic ableism and stigmatizing definitions of disability. It is . . . an attempt to untangle ourselves from the complex matrix of negative beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that grow from the dominant group’s assumption that there is something inherently wrong with our disabilities and identity.
If you don’t know a lot about Disability rights or the ways in which ableism pervades our society, join me in learning. If you do know about ableism and/or Disability rights, feel free to share with me. Also, as always, please let me know if I’ve misspoken or said something ignorant. I may not enjoy being called out, but I appreciate it because it helps me to grow (and, y’know, to not be an ignorant, privileged jerk — avoiding that fate is one of my main goals in life).