To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise - on silencing disabled people.

Image description: To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise - Voltaire.
A giant hand is pushing down and crushing a group of people, who are fighting back against it.  



Dear non-disabled people - 

Silencing disabled people is oppression. It relieves them of whatever limited 'power' has been granted to them in the first place. That limited power has usually been fought for by disabled people themselves. 

If you silence disabled people, you are not 'allies', no matter what you purport to say or do. You are not an advocate. You are not a friend. You are part of the problem. 

Silencing. It's a good idea to think about why you're doing this. Keep this quote in mind.
'When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.'
- George R.R. Martin
Silencing is not confined just to disabled people - Black and First Nations people and other marginalised groups also experience this treatment at the hands of members of dominant groups who want to silence people and quash dissent.

We disabled people are tired of being spoken for when we have our own voice or means of expressing ourselves. Tired of having our struggles appropriated by non disabled people for cookies or kudos or pats on the head for their paternalistic altruism and 'good deeds'. Tired of non disabled people and people who are paid to represent us assuming that they know what is best for us without questioning or asking what we think. 

The history of disability rights is about silence and breaking silence for marginalised groups of disabled people. 

It compounds our marginalisation when tactics are used to shame or bully people into silence when they do speak out. If you censor disabled people, you are part of the problem. If you say you represent disabled people and you then suppress freedom of opinion and speech and power, you should pack your bags and go home.

I do not believe in allies any more. There are lots of reasons why. Autistic Hoya says that so called 'allies' do not get to choose if they are allies or not, we get to choose that. And they say (about Autistics, but it applies to all disabled people):
'You are not an ally if you dismiss an Autistic person's experiences because of your perceptions of that person's abilities and challenges.
You are not an ally if you insist that your voice and your experiences are more important, accurate, or necessary than those of an Autistic.
You are not an ally if you refuse to acknowledge the validity of an Autistic person's opinions or ideas.
You are not an ally if you routinely attack or dismiss an Autistic person's opinions or ideas...
You don't get to be an ally by calling yourself one.
And you don't get to be an ally because you think you're one.'
If the above applies to what you've recently done or said, then yes - I am speaking about you. Shed non disabled tears if you like, but we will not be silenced. Your oppression is the problem, and so are you. 

'Silence is what allows people to suffer without recourse, what allows hypocrisies and lies to grow and flourish, crimes to go unpunished. If our voices are essential aspects of our humanity, to be rendered voiceless is to be dehumanised or excluded from one’s humanity.'

Note on the concept of *voice* - intellectually disabled people, and folks who do not use spoken language, have a 'voice'.  Amplifying that person's voice is just part of good support and it is important for people whose voices are rarely heard (and are often diminished by more vocal members of the community in the absence of good support and ableist ideas).

The video below is by Suzy and Alison Proctor, who are siblings who speak together to educate others. 




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why We Must Not Go Gently Into The Night

The Apartheid of Mainstream Feminism (or when is a woman not a woman?)