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Jeannette Montroy
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A few years ago I was run over by a car. This resulted in several months off my feet entirely, then several months with crutches, and several with a cane. I noticed something remarkable about the difference in public perception between my crutches vs cane. When I went out on crutches, people (strangers, the public) were super kind to me. They got up from bus seats, they parted ways to give me room to maneuver, they asked kind questions and gave me well wishes for healing. They offered to help me in any way they could. When I went out with my cane, it was so incredibly opposite - I had to ask - sometimes repeatedly for a seat on the bus, I would get trampled on, people would avoid eye contact or simply stare at me, no one asked me if I was ok, or how I was feeling, or what had happened. It confused me for a while - certainly crutches indicate something temporary and a cane something more chronic, so in my mind it seemed to make sense that a cane should elicit more empathy. Then I realized - on crutches, I was injured. I was a "normal" person who had gotten into an accident, someone who would heal, someone who was temporarily set back, someone who was otherwise active and vibrant. With a cane, I was perceived as disabled. Not normal. Someone suffering from something - perhaps even of my own fault. I was damaged goods, a dented can, a shirt with a stain that would never wash out. That's when I understood, I mean REALLY REALLY understood able-ism and how it works and just how blind most of us are to it.
Toggle Commented Apr 14, 2011 on Meditations on ableism at The Slacktiverse
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Apr 14, 2011