My Black Disabled Life Is Worthy

Heather Pork | @artcuresall

As a black woman with a disability, I had to spend most of my childhood and adolescence compromising my desires and adapting to a society designed to eliminate me. But with age and experience, I also found that I deserve respect and compassion. Since then, narcissism has become unnegotiable. Or at least I thought it was.

We celebrate all forms of black love through a series of carefully selected opinion pieces.

Then, in January last year, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: Good morning, America Audience She and her colleagues were “really encouraged” by recent findings. study For vaccinated people. (A YouTube video Part of this interview has been closed. ) “The overwhelming number of deaths (more than 75%) occurred in people with at least four comorbidities, so in reality these are people who were sick from the beginning, and certainly really encouraging news. In the context of Omicron, “she said.

Dr. Wallensky’s seemingly congratulatory comments eased my hard-earned determination and knocked me back in the spring of 2020. At that time, it became clear that many communities and institutions did not want or were equipped to protect or save people like me. Since the beginning of the pandemic, shameless discrimination against persons with disabilities has been rampant among public health authorities, governments and social media. While people with physical and mental disabilities have historically faced alienation, exclusion and oppression, COVID-19 and subsequent safety guidelines have long been institutional and systematic inequality from medical care to our culture. Revealed system-to-work policy. These complications are exacerbated when race and other marginalized identities work, especially for black disabled people. This is because they also face racial health inequalities such as imbalances. Misdiagnosis Percentage of blacks from culturally insensitive medical education.

In order to challenge the stigma and oppression reflected in Dr. Warensky’s disability-discriminatory comments, fueled by a pandemic, I created a hashtag and started a conversation on Twitter. #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy.. Thousands of people with disabilities lent a voice under the tag.

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Being considered less than what you were given when you were born is fundamentally different in almost every aspect of what society considers acceptable. While attending a predominantly white school in the suburbs of Pennsylvania, I was black, disabled, fat, and had natural hair. People I thought were friends invited me to an inaccessible restaurant and I went because I didn’t want to be left behind. In school dance, I always asked for a date because I was afraid that no one would ask me if I left it by chance. I was silent when it came to racial issues. As long as my peers saw and loved me, it didn’t matter that I had to scrape away some of my surroundings: accessibility, culture, safety, and so on. ..

Whenever I felt a fledgling urge to seek self-love and respect, I felt that all the advice provided was inaccessible, ambiguous, or straightforward. When you love yourself, you will understand the treatment you deserve! When you find self-love, you will find your power! Everyone I talked to seemed to arrive at this self-accepting place overnight. My parents, family, and church leaders told me to seek inspiration from black leaders and artists.But some stories about black people with disabilities I met told them they were successful. apart from Of their obstacles, or that they have completely overcome them. Imagine a future in which I could be completely present, as my entire black handicapped self felt like stepping into a dark and ominous sea.

Then, at the age of 25, I found shelter and power in the voices of my fellow black disabled people. ancestorfavorite Harriet Tubman, Fanny Lou HammerHenrietta Lax, Audre Lorde, It led me to my passion for disability advocacy and leadership. These pioneers recognized the impact of disability on their lives and told the world their truths because of disability, not despite it. They evoked the modern disability justice movement and advocated the inclusion of marginalized voices within the disabled community. They are the ones who have taught us that we are bold in our hopes and eager to love ourselves and each other. Sticking to this revolutionary heritage helped me survive the pandemic of the past.

If I learned anything about myself in these unprecedented times, it is that narcissism is a continuous and non-linear practice. I never reach the point where narcissism simply exists, especially when my personality goes against the standards of racial, mental, physical, and desirability. But I no longer feel guilty about what I am not. Instead, I choose to accept and celebrate what I am, but acceptance can be vulnerable. For black people with disabilities, narcissism is not just an aesthetic or trend, but a basic lifeline that we use through apology-free advocacy, collective support and memory. We are all we have, as our ancestors have taught us.

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