Ableism is probably one of the least discussed topics in the diversity, equity, and inclusion conversations, yet it’s one that also affects an enormous portion of the population globally. Racism and sexism are pretty simple to understand as a concept and something we are more aware of. Most people can say with some degree of confidence if they hold any of those mentioned above prejudices, but ableism and how it manifests itself, have been a bit more elusive. While racism, sexism, and discrimination against the LGBT community appear more evident as straightforward, demonstrable actions, behaviors, or beliefs, ableism is something that many of us have exhibited unknowingly and unintentionally.
Consider how many times we say things like,
“He’s can be a little bipolar.”
“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said. I was spaced out, haha, I’m so, ADHD.”
Or the client...
It’s necessary to focus on the experience of marginalized communities, not to obsess about “identity” as would be used as a pejorative in today’s constant cultural arguments, but to concretize the fact that marginalized communities don’t just have a different experience; in many instances, they have a different reality. There are universal human experiences that unite us all—the need for safety and security; desire for caring relationships.
There are also experiences of people from marginalized communities that are difficult to surmise, given the array of contexts and circumstances. Those experiences span history and multiple generations, involve systemic and societal constructs, and run the gamut of struggle and the human condition: oppression, discrimination, prejudice, abuse, despair, self-hate, isolation, paranoia, pressure, and frustration. In attempting to address the negative impact of this collection of experiences, we struggle to...
"Anywhere where the humanity of people is undermined, anywhere where people are left in the dust, there we will find our cause."
Desmond Tutu died earlier this week. He was 90 years old. As I look at my office bookshelf, I see his books and think, how did this religious leader who lives on the other side of the planet find his way into my life? How did this man, living under such an oppressive regime, break through the systems of apartheid? How was he able to rise to his position of leadership as the first Black archbishop within the Anglican faith? How has he, despite the conservatism associated with his faith and geography, become such an ally for the LGBTQA++ communities?
Desmond Tutu has had such a profound impact on me, an outsized impact that goes beyond books and translates into my life.