Hammering Home The Point: Gimps Are As Good As Anyone Else. So Why Aren’t We Treated That Way?
The connection between “the disabled” or as we call them more accurately “people with disabilities” and competitive sports is one powerful way to show the rest of the world that the underlying stereotypes, misperceptions, and outright discrimination faced by us 20% of the planet is not only immoral, but incorrect.
Not to mention inhumane and unsustainable.
We think that there finally might be an opening this year with a very important event this summer. For both people born gimps and those, like us, that have become part of the “community.”
No, not the Paralympics.
The other competition.
Of course, as usual, this is all male centered. Being a woman with a disability is even more difficult.
But at least this is a start.
You see life as a PWD is like taking the “red pill” and “down the hole, Alice you go.” It doesn’t always mean your life will be worse (although it usually does). It always means it will be different.
On the positive side, when you learn how to channel that “sixth sense” and have the opportunity (also very, very rare), there are sometimes moments so breathtaking, even in the everyday and mundane, that you thank whatever gave you this affliction because it made you grow in other ways.
But no matter the number of positive encounters, as a gimp, you will almost always encounter daily discriminations, big and small, that remind you that life is very, very different. If not sucks.
Sometimes there are days, if not weeks, if not years of constant, unremitting discrimination. Sometimes a life of it.
And often such incidents come at you completely out of the blue.
That’s what makes such incidents even worse.
Not to mention difficult in ways that are hard for the able bodied (of all hues) to even imagine.
If you think this is just another “PC moment” for the sake of PC, we can assure that everyday, common, outrageous discrimination happens, well every day. And in every way. And in every case, we have noticed when it happens personally, the person doing it seems to enjoy the sadism.
We were just thrown off a plane on a connecting flight back from Dallas on the way home from my father’s funeral to make room for an able-bodied white guy. I was booked on the flight from the time I made my outbound reservations the week before. I was thrown off my final leg of my two stop (horrifically expensive, last minute, multi stop, triply long flight) because, well, it was convenient to bounce the gimp under the charge of “The Captain” [who never even saw me] but his words were repeated as gospel by the stewardess with the sadistic smile on her face that told me and those around me that I was “inebriated” and that I must debark to make way for the white guy pronto.
Not one to get in a tiff over my federal rights in a space as potentially charged as an airplane, I debarked thinking this could be sorted out at the gate.
As I got off the plane, after being defamed, I actually heard people clapping at my exit.
What is it about Americans that make them enjoy humiliation and discrimination?
Welcome to the everyday humiliation that we gimps face.
There is no way to describe that kind of anger and powerlessness. If not determination to overcome this kind of discrimination. But take a look at the clips below. They begin to come close. Not to mention shows in a different kind of light, why we are so dedicated to getting this company going.
We think this promo below, and Sean Forbes video soundtrack that goes with the film (excerpted below too) is a very good integration of issues (sports and “disabilities”) that may finally begin to break down the horrific barriers this community faces at almost every point in their lives.
During my most recent humiliation, the stewardess used the excuse that I was “inebriated” to debark me, even though I repeatedly explained I had a speaking disability, and further, had anyone bothered to check the CCTV cameras right near the gate, I had been sitting patiently right next to the boarding corridor for my connection for three hours.
Not in a bar getting drunk.
Even worse, as I learned the next morning on my way to the new departure gate pointed there by another member of the airline staff, by now limping (I have a very painful movement disorder that is exacerbated by sitting in hard airport chairs for hours, not only did I find I was on the third flight out, not the first, as promised the previous night by the haughty “supervisor” who also refused to get me home via another connecting flight that night and from their hub no less, but worse, that airline staff and management had just completed an ADA compliance course on how to tell the difference between inebriation and speaking disabilities.
So I was forced to spend a horrific eight hours in a closed down airport and in pain, after considerable abuse by the Airline management staff (including calling the police, who did nothing of course, because I had done nothing wrong).
Starting with the fact that you can smell the alcohol on a drunk’s breath. And I don’t drink.
Sport is a good starting metaphor for the beginning of a nascent movement towards equality, particularly for the PWD community. But we also caveat that this is only the beginning. And a boxing movie is also a good venue because it makes the difference between competitive drive and outright aggression for no good reason, but anger fueled by constant humiliation and put downs and blocked doors, channeled to overcome a barrier built by discrimination.
Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner Kershnee, and many other athletes previous to them (in particular Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany), have all used athletics if not the Olympics to advance the cause of racial equality.
In the disability community, the tactic has been much slower, for several reasons, starting with the fact that unless you are born into the 1%, your life as a “gimp” will be usually fraught with challenges that usually have everything to do with discrimination and thus living in extreme poverty. Sports training, particularly on the professional or national (Olympic level) takes money. And naturally a resource not to be “wasted” on human trash. Right up there with education, employment and equal opportunity.
There is something so innate about cruelty and discrimination, if not outright contempt and disdain (starting with good old American values like our vapid adoption of shallow beauty), that it is shocking to really experience disability discrimination first hand. Either as a witness, or worse, as the one who discrimination has just been perpetuated against. And while all discrimination is awful, and we’ve experienced it before as an “able-bodied” woman, there is something worse about disability discrimination.
Partly because it is usually so unexpected, so cruel, and so pervasive. And far more blatant these days than even the worst sexist or racist comment (dog whistle or direct) used in any normal, public discourse in this country today.
But the problem is that people with disabilities are usually only seen in limited ways. Somewhat less than human, idiots to be pitied, used as doorstops, or locked out of sight. Or in that rare exception, the “one that beats the odds” described in tones that carry with them a whiff of condescention that clearly “this one is the exception. Our prejudice may continue unhindered.”
Guess what? We gimps don’t even get affirmative action.
That’s why this film, and even more so, the video for the soundtrack are an important development and show a very important perspective.
Nobody can argue that a deaf guy can’t wrestle. Or that his hearing aids give him an “unfair advantage” (one of the reasons its taken so long for the Olympic Committee to admit Pistorius into the Olympics this year at all).
That’s why this development is important. Along with this film.
But true equality for the disability community will only come when this community, our community, is also recognized for its brains and not its brawn. Not to mention the many contributions of women with disabilities. In every field. Track, high jump, 400 meter. And far beyond acting and sports.
Sean Forbes Music Video Soundtrack for the film
- The American Association of People with Disabilities Praises Selection of John Register, AAPD Board Member and Paralympic Athlete to be Obama Re-election Campaign Co-chair (prnewswire.com)
- Do You Know How to Interact with a Person Who is Disabled? (emilytalley92.wordpress.com)
- You’re cured now, right? (newblackwoman.com)
- What is web accessibility in good web design user experience? (marketing.yell.com)
- ‘If I am not fit to fly, he is not fit to be a pilot’ (thehindu.com)
- Tanni Grey-Thompson talks about disability: transcript (guardian.co.uk)
- Apology demanded from Spicejet (thehindu.com)
- Crip Culture for Allies: Work: Understanding the Disability System… (cripsnqueers.wordpress.com)
- When I started out I used to try to hide my leg – not any more! (mirror.co.uk)
- Paralympics ‘could change views’ (bbc.co.uk)