Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I am the 99%

Hi All,

I support your efforts, and have been on several marches. As a professor and poet with cerebral palsy, though, I have noticed a lack of attention to how people with disabilities have been excluded, particularly from the discussion of civil rights.  I cannot stress enough that many people with disabilities regard themselves as a minority and want to be included in the civil rights conversation.

 As a minority, people with disabilities suffer the most from the global economy. The unemployment rate is 70%. This is not because people don't want to or can't work, but because the 'normative' body is heavily privileged in the workplace. Further, due to architectural issues, PWD don't have simple 'rights' such as accessibility to buildings. The government has two financial programs for people with disabilities - SSI and SSDI. In both these programs, although the recipient stays well below the poverty line, the money is taken away should the recipient do any form of work (this includes royalties and artist grants) and due to unlawful paperwork it is in not uncommon for people to end up 'owing' SSDI back payments. The ADA court cases have historically been won nearly exclusively by the defendant, not the person with the disability.

A very solvable step would be refrain from using the word retarded and lame. I'm far from the language police! But these words, which I have heard used numerous times, even on marches, are lazy and offensive.

Best, Professor Bartlett

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