You need us

You Need Us

You need us to stay in poverty to hold up your economy

You need us to sustain the industry you’ve built up around us in health care, equipment and psychiatry

You need us to build up your own worth, to keep our heads down and feel shut down so you can feel adequate

You need us to maintain your power, to be seen to be doing something when you’re really doing nothing at all

You need us to fight hard to be everything, so you can tell the rest of us it’s better to be nothing

You need us to lie down so you can stand on top of us

You need us to follow your rules so you can justify their existence

You need us not to realize how much you need us

Racialized people with disabilities walking on the road.

From http://www.joyen.net/VOASpecial/soft0627/201106/20110630212747372.jpg

No Shame in Falling

I hate falling. It serves as reminder to me that no matter what I do or what I accomplish, my body will at some point let me down, and that pisses me off.

If you`re reading this and thinking there`s a lot of internalized ableism in there, you`d be right.

So why do I feel so crappy about falling? I would never shame anyone else when they fall.

I know the answer to this. There was a time in my life when falling meant somebody was going to get upset with me, roll their eyes at me, yell at me, accusingly ask me “What’s wrong with you?” etc.

So naturally, when I fell in a movie theater the other day, and the staff had to come unlock the door so my partner could help me back up I expected some kind of negative response, or at least embarrassment.

All he said was “Why would I be embarrassed? People fall.”

And in that moment three things came to mind: 1) I wish I had a time machine to go back and say that to my childhood self. 2) I have an awesome partner (I knew that already), and 3) I still have a lot of internalized ableism to get rid of.

Falling is good, it teaches us it’s ok to fail, and you will get back up. Metaphorical falling anyway, real falling can hurt, so we should still avoid it, but the feelings of shame don’t have to be there.

I’m reminded of a quote I posted on facebook the other day: “Feminism doesn’t know WTF to do with disability, because disability throws a huge monkey wrench into the gears of the feminist notion that we’re supposed to be strong, independent, and accomplished beings, healthy and full of power.” from http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/2013/07/30/why-this-disabled-woman/

On that note, I’ve decided to write an article for an anthology on the conflicts between feminism and disability, and would welcome any suggestions. :)

Solidarity with the elevator workers strike

As of the end of May, there are no talks planned in the strike that’s seen 1,400 Ontario members of the International Union of Elevator Constructors striking for more than a month with no end in sight.

According to Ben McIntyre, business manager for the IUEC Local 50 in Toronto, the union’s deal with the National Elevator and Escalator Association expired at the beginning of May. With no new deal, the elevator workers went on strike. Like many workers, they’re fighting just to keep what they already have.

But a problem is brewing that may make things even more challenging for the Ontario’s elevator workers. If the maintenance workers’ strike continues, the agency regulating elevator safety in Ontario says it may need to shut down elevators for safety reasons. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority says it requires regular safety checks and is concerned that, with elevator companies won’t be able to keep up with required inspections.

But while you’re journeying up those flights of stairs, it’s worth remembering that these are the workers who keep those elevators running every day, and without them, your commute might be much more exhausting.

Having said that, many people depend on elevators as a part of daily life; I use an elevator roughly ten times a day. Until they develop an easily available wheelchair that can handle stairs, elevator workers will be an invisible army connecting me to the outside world.

And I’d personally prefer that army to be well paid, well qualified, and in strong enough numbers to get the job done.

I’ve had calls from reporters expecting me to be angry about this situation, and I can understand why some people are upset and worried, but without this strike would any of us stop and think about the importance of the work they do?

The Toronto Transit Commission is trying to make it easier for people with disabilities, and other people who depend on elevators while supporting the striking workers. They are adding buses and looking at their options for riders as the elevator workers strike continues. They are also putting Wheel-Trans buses in strategic locations to assist people that may get stranded because of broken down elevator. Wheel-Trans is the accessible public transit alternative for people with disabilities to use in Toronto when they can’t access the regular transit system.

Elevator workers are vital to the quality of life for many who live in Ontario, including people with disabilities. Let’s not let others make this a case of workers’ rights versus disability rights; let’s make it a time we supported each other in solidarity, so that we can all have the quality of life we deserve.

Reposted from http://www.socialist.ca/node/1774

Fighting austerity in North America: Walmart workers to Bill 115

 Tuesday, January 15, 7:00pm
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor Street West, room 8220
 
 
Speakers: 
Elizabeth Clinton, OUR Walmart campaigner from Texas (via Skype)
OUR Walmart is a grassroots organization of Walmart workers and former workers fighting for rights for Walmart workers.

Ritch Whyman, International Socialists

Low wage non-union Walmart workers organized a fantastic strike against their notorious anti-union employer on Black Friday. Workers, both union and non-union, are fighting back against austerity across North America. 

Showing that workers in some of the lowest paid service-sector jobs can organize and fight back, workers from McDonald’s have held protests, wildcat strikes and campaigned for better wages. In Canada, federal and provincial governments are using legislation to impose contracts and try to stop strikes and solidarity. What are the prospects for resistance in this new environment of austerity?

Join a discussion on working class resistance, where we have been and where we are going. 

Organized by the U of T International Socialists
Info: reports@socialist.ca

A People’s History of the War of 1812

Picture of the War of 1812

Fundraiser evening with JOHN BELL
 
Toronto Centre fundraising dinner and talk, suggested donation $7-15
Sunday, November 4 – 5:30pm Dinner & Talk
United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street

Stephen Harper has devoted at least $28 million to glorifying the War of 1812, as part of his ongoing campaign to “rebrand” Canada as a “warrior nation”. There is a lot to remember and celebrate from this history, but it sure isn’t what Harper wants us to know about: corruption, incompetence and greed among the rulers on both sides of the border; and a powerful urge to resist war by working people in the Canadas and in the battleground states.

Come hear Socialist Worker columnist John Bell on A People’s History of the War of 1812. It’s not your Tory’s history.
Please forward widely

Reproductive Justice includes Women with Disabilities

Earlier this month I spoke at a reproductive justice rally, and as much as I was honoured to be there, it wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. For a long time I stayed out of the pro-choice conversation. I have always been pro-choice, but I didn’t always feel included in the movement. My concerns about reproductive justice were a little different than most feminists, while most women I knew were fighting for the choice of whether or not to have children; most women with disabilities were fighting for the choice to have children at all.
Like many fights in the disability movement this one goes on silently and often behind closed doors. It happens in subtle ways, the dead quiet after a little girl with a disability suggests that she is going to be a mommy someday, the doctor who asks a teenager with a disability why she wants birth control, to the barrage of comments a pregnant woman with a disability is subjected to in public. It also happens in more overt ways, like when a woman with a disability is not allowed to have her child in the maternity ward, the many unwarranted calls to the Children’s Aid Society, and even in some cases forced sterilization.

There are 300 million women with disabilities around the world, each one of them are impacted by issues like these, compounded by the same lack of reproductive justice facing other women in their communities. But how do these women organize if they are too afraid to tell their stories? How can we expect them to join the movement if they do not feel included?

While these women are feeling excluded from discussion of choice and reproductive justice, the anti-choice movement has been freely exploiting us for years. One day they tell women that children with disabilities are their punishment for having abortions, and the next time they are telling women that they should risk giving birth to a potentially disabled child, even at the risk of their own lives. We did not ask to be used this way, and I for one refuse to be used this way.

What we need is a reproductive justice movement that welcomes women with disabilities in the way we want to be included. The rising of women is the rising of us all, but only if women with disabilities rise too.