I want to start this post with a little bit of a disclaimer. I’m not attempting to take away from the struggle of any minority. While I consider the United States in general an amazing place to live, filled with opportunities, anyone who identifies as a member of a minority group can attest to the fact that we have a lot of work to do. That being said, this is my personal struggle.
I consider myself, as someone with a disability, as a member of the silent minority. Generally speaking, we don’t organize protests; we don’t stop traffic or storm shopping malls to make our points. As a result, disability rights and the problems that affect our community don’t get addressed. You won’t hear wheelchair accessibility addressed at the presidential debates, and as we discuss welfare reform you’ll never see mention of the fact that those who receive government assistance because of a long term disability are unable to marry those they love. Obviously none of this will be fixed overnight, but there’s a stigma here that needs to be addressed: the angry cripple.
In my 24 years of life, I have always made an effort not to be an angry cripple. Generally my family and I worked through any problems we had quietly and independently – because, in our eyes, we could have had it much worse. And that’s true. But it could also be much better. More buildings could be handicapped accessible. Public transportation across the country could be more readily available. Social programs could be adjusted to allow those with disabilities to continue to work and still receive the care they need.
It’s not a matter of being angry, or bitter. It’s about being vocal. Change starts on the smallest, most local level, and as I head into my second quarter of life, I’m ready to speak up. So if you see me complaining about accessibility or inequality, know that I’m not angry.
I’m just ready.