Microaggressions Against People with Disabilities

BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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I recently stumbled across this Forbes article. What do you think? I've definitely seen many strangers lean on my brother's wheelchair or hang onto the handlebars. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahkim/2019/02/27/disability-microaggressions/#577b84fd417d

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  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 137Moderator Moderator
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    I think this article hits the nail on the head.  I have experienced the "inspiration porn" so many times I lost count.  It is well intentioned but badly misplaced.  I haven't had the experiences of having people use my chair to lean on or as a footrest but I had one incident that was scary and humiliating.  
    I had gone to the movies with my wife and brother and after the movie was over, we discovered that the elevator had broken down.  I know how to go down stairs backwards and was just about to navigate the stairs when this man approached and picked up my chair, without asking, and started moving me down the stairs.  Thank goodness, my brother had been spotting me or I would have fallen over backwards.  I kept telling him to put the chair down and that I was capable of managing the stairs and he responded by saying that he had over 30 years experience moving furniture.  He didn't let go of the chair until I was completely down the stairs and I was really upset.  It's a hard thing when well intentioned people overstep my boundaries and don't respond to what I am telling them.  Again, great article.
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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    Glad you liked the article, @iamdadman! I hate that the man at the movies somehow equated moving you, a human being, to moving furniture :neutral:  I imagine that, while these people who pick you up probably have good intentions, it would feel quite belittling. It's so easy to ask if someone needs help, so why just jump into what may not actually help? And the "inspiration porn"...people don't realize the kind of alienation and pressure that can make a person with a disability feel. The idea of, "If HE, that person who uses a wheelchair, can do it, then I definitely can," only further pushes what could be considered an ableist state of mind. Thanks for commenting!
  • Monica.TMonica.T Posts: 96Member ✭✭
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    Our biggest issue seems to be people not noticing Charlie is there, standing in front of him blocking his view and the other big problem is people tripping over his footplate, it happened so many times I have thought about attaching a bicycle flag to his footplate.

    The other big no-no is people have actually petted him on the head - might have him a shirt made that says : Don't pet me, I bite!

  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 137Moderator Moderator
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    The other thing I just remembered is when my wife and I will be conducting business and talking to a representative of the company we are dealing with and they will never look at me but only my wife.  My wife will simply tell them, that they will have to ask me the questions they are asking her.  What am I, a non-person?

    Joe
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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    @Monica.T, I HATE when this happens! My brother has a friend who uses a wheelchair, and he has a shirt that says, "Keep staring, I might do a trick!"

    @iamdadman, this also SO TRUE. I'm a pretty loud, take-charge kind of gal, no matter who I'm with. Whether I'm with friends, my mom, a significant other, my brother...I have a bad habit of answering for other people. I'm always trying to work on this, particularly with my brother, because even though I do this with everyone, it can come off more patronizing and reinforce the non-person notion when it comes to my brother. Thank you for another reminder that I always have room for improvement on this!
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 137Moderator Moderator
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    @BrookeU
    I just saw your post, I have been in bed for the past five days with some kind of flu bug.  I also feel that we ALL have room for improvement with regard to just about everything... you know... no finish line.

    Joe
  • garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 82Moderator Moderator
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    I have those same issues @iamdadman
    I would be at a business meeting with my cousin and they would ask him all the questions as if I'm not there and he always replies "I am not the Founder he is."
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 137Moderator Moderator
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    @garrisonredd
    I try to be understanding but sometimes I just think to myself that Ignorance does not exonerate you...
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 112Moderator Moderator
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    This is a really interesting topic. I just learned about microaggressions and what they are. I do not have any experiences to share but love that it is being talked about. 

    @iamdadman I agree with you. I feel like the word ignorance is perceived and used negatively, but ignorance just means a lack of knowledge about something. But there people out there who are stupidly ignorant and others simply uneducated about certain things(:
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • skosillsskosills Posts: 13Member
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    I sometimes put my foot on the chair or lean on it to be closer, I think of it as similar to if we were both able bodied, and I put a hand on his knee or something to be closer. It's an intimacy thing. If I do more than that I ask first. I like to think of the chair as part of his personal space. He recently got a new chair and the model he wanted only came with handlebars and he hates that part, because it invites people to use them.
    Funny/not funny story, we were at an event with some acquaintances of ours and their daughter who was about eight at the time, was asking why he couldn't walk. He mentioned (flippantly) as he talked that he wouldn't be able to feel it if she stuck him in the leg with a fork. A little while later after the end of the discussion, she came back up to him with a fork! And wanted to try it. We thought it was amusing that she took him so literally.
    Sandra
    Peer Mentor for able bodied care givers
    Wife of T7 Complete Para
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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    @skosills, your story about the little girl reminded me of a sweet thing that happened with my family's old neighbors a few years ago. They had just moved from Mexico City, but both parents are bilingual, so they're raising their kids to be too. The daughter was about 8 and the son around 4. My brother and I were taking a stroll down the street with them while our moms were chatting. The little boy wanted to push my brother (and eventually said "necesito help" when it got hilly). Anyway, the sweet thing was that at one point, he said something in Spanish I didn't understand. So my brother and I asked her what he said, and she goes, "Oh, he said Chris's chair is like a bike except for it's red." Chris's spokes at the time were red, and that's all the boy noticed.

    I love to think that, because they met someone who uses a wheelchair at such a young age, they will grow up to be more accepting people.
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 137Moderator Moderator
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    @BrookeU
    @skosills
    I have to chime in with my own little story... my son's former girlfriend had a son named Landon.  Of course, we all loved him and I would give him rides in my lap and push around the house wherever he directed me.  One day out of nowhere, Landon comes up to me and asks me if I need new batteries in my legs because the old ones must be dead!  I laughed my butt off...

    Joe
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 137Moderator Moderator
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    @Zcollie
    You are so right about the difference between ignorance and stupidity.  Thanks for reminding me.  There is a big difference between ignorance and stupidity. 
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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    @iamdadman, what a kid thing to say! Love it.
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