A curmudgeon gives thanks

More than a few people consider Yours Truly a curmudgeon (dictionary: "a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas"). Much of the time I'm guilty as charged. I don't like that disability rights continues to be so fringe-y. I don't like the fact that access isn't a routine thing; that our culture is still immersed in all the overcomer and personal challenge postive-thinking schlock that impedes true progress. I don't like...

Oops! Sorry. This is about what I am thankful for:

I'm thankful we have a disability rights movement and that, despite rumors to the contrary, it's likely becoming stronger. Frank Bowe's two wonderful recent articles on our site (here and here) testify to that. As do the comments Frank's article's been receiving in just the last day or two.

I'm thankful we have an Americans with Disabilities Act; I'm thankful for the "old timers" who did the work to get it into law -- many of whom are unsung and virtually unknown today in the wider disability community. I'm thankful advocates, including many fine members of Congress, have managed behind the scenes to kill the annual introductions of "amendments" that would weaken it, by the likes of folks like Rep. Mark Foley (R. -FL).

And that, of course, reminds me of the forays against disability rights laws waged in the courts, all the way up to the Supremes (to whom some of you, I know, think I devote way too much attention).

I'm thankful for the many dedicated and often underpaid attorneys who do clearly understand the disability rights vision and continue to press cases around the country, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. And who write about disability cases on blogs and listservs and help educate us all.

I'm thankful for the growing numbers of disability rights folks who are starting blogs. Email listservs are great too -- and I'm thankful for the ones I lurk on getting information for Ragged Edge Online. But I am very thankful that folks are beginning to realize that the Web is indeed a World Wide Web, and starting to put a lot of their conversations on blogs where ANYONE can stumble upon it and perhaps begin to connect with ideas and people that give them a new understanding of the disability experience. (And I'm thankful for those who keep teaching me that lesson.) I'm thankful for the many disability studies scholars and professors who think through the thorny issues, and who are teaching new generations of folks with disabilities and without that disability is primarily a social construct that we remain ignorant about at our peril.

I'm of course thankful for the people who visit Ragged Edge Online and Edge-Centric and who comment. Back-and-forth is always good. I'm thankful we get some of that. And for all you lurkers too -- I'm very thankful for you.

And I'm of course thankful for the activists all around the country, those who never forget that we must speak truth to power, and who often do so with their bodies on the line. Maybe protest is a thing of the past, maybe "direct action organizing" seems passe; but beyond its role in getting media attention (which it has a harder time with today) it also builds community.

Building the disability rights community is perhaps our most important work. And I'm thankful to all who do that, in countless ways large and small every day. You know who you are. You have my gratitude.

For yes, Virginia, there is a disability rights community. And I am very very thankful for that.

November 23, 2005 | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

Post a comment

(your email address will not appear publicly)

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Recommend this story to a friend

To (email address):

Your email address:

Message (optional):