Today would have been the 78th birthday of Ed Roberts, an important disability rights activist that before today, I admittedly had never heard of. Google featured him as their doodle of the day and Time did a great piece on him here.
My first foray into activism was for my own community, the disability community. Once I started to come into my own and stopped wanting to hide my disability and blend in with everyone else, I started to speak out against discrimination against disabled people more and more. I’ve put up with so much ignorance myself as a disabled person and seen so many others suffer at the hand for it, that not speaking up was no longer an option for me. When you’ve been called a cripple, when people have made fun of your walk, called you anorexic for being so skinny and then on the opposite end, think you’re taking advantage and aren’t really disabled, you start to find your voice.
These days, I’m trying to fight even more forms of ignorance than those that just relate to my community. As someone who has been handed a set of struggles that weren’t my choice, it’s again, not an option for me not to fight for those who are struggling too. That’s why it makes me so hard to understand how other people can be so ignorant and selfish, including some members of my own my community. It doesn’t even occur to me not to try to understand someone else’s situation but it seems like these days the only thing anyone wants to do is the exact opposite. People seem to just want to have someone to blame for their own problems and unhappy lives. Instead of traveling or trying to learn about the world (which you don’t even have to travel to do), it’s easier to sit in your bubble or cocoon and complain about everyone else. Instead of going out and meeting people who are different, it’s easier to sit at home and be afraid of people who are different or things you may not understand. People just like me. It’s easier to never question anything including your own beliefs or the way you were raised.
I wish I could be more like Ed Roberts. I’m not sure how much more fight I have left in me. The constant barrage of stupidity and ignorance I have to hear on a daily basis from all sides is wearing on me. I’m trying but I don’t see how I can possibly enact any kind of positive change anymore. I can’t change people. People will believe what they want to believe. . . what’s convenient for them. That will never change. So how do I accept that, pick up the picket sign, and keep going? I’m going to try Ed. I’m going to try.