Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is There A "Code Of The Cripple"?

Beyond The Code Of The Streets
Ta-Nehesi Coates, New York Times, May 4, 2013

I read this article a couple weeks ago. The author describes how habits and behaviors that were functional and even necessary for him growing up in a tough, violent environment are now both inappropriate and potentially destructive in his current, professional, educated, upper middle class life. He's talking about things like always being on the lookout for physical threats, never backing down from confrontations, and being prepared to meet violence with violence, not just in theory, but in imminent reality. They made sense for an African-American kid growing up in "crack era Baltimore", but not for the young writer at a national literary magazine.

Do read Coates' own words ... he's a great writer and I'm sure I've over-simplified.

The article got me thinking, though, about whether there are behaviors and habits people with disabilities learn that serve us well in some situations, but very badly in others. Are there "cripple codes" or practices that make sense for us in, say, institutions or other neighborhoods in "disability world", but are out of place and ineffective in "mainstream" settings?

Maybe its the other way around. Maybe we absorb attitudes and practices that make sense for non-disabled people, but don't help us as people who do have disabilities.

No answers here ... just questions.