Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two Disability Cultures

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I sometimes think that many of the conflicts within the disability community are less about specific disagreements than about peoples’ different responses to sentimentality on the one hand, and irony on the other. It’s almost like there are two disability cultures.

One is sustained by positivity, inspiration, and aspiration, and is either indifferent to or uncomfortable with discussions of policy and advocacy. The other “side” is fueled by injustice, collective action and identity, and a sort of world-weary cynicism about where disabled people really stand in the world. And they are either indifferent to or revolted by heartwarming stories of personal optimism and spirituality.

The only time the two cultures seem to cross is when we occasionally unite to share heartwarming, inspirational stories about prominent disability rights advocates, like Justin Dart and Judy Heumann. Otherwise, our two tribes seem to be carrying on entirely different conversations.

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