If you haven’t seen this video yet I encourage you to do so right now. I learned a few things that I didn’t know even though I have been disabled my whole life. I will tell you that it is largely fear of losing my disability check which has kept me and Oz from getting married… What would happen if he got laid off and our family didn’t even have my check to fall back on? My parents routinely refer to him as my fiancée but we’re very careful to avoid such phrasing when talking to someone who works for the Social Security office because we’re afraid they will penalize me for anything that even remotely sounds close to a declaration of intent. The part about it being legal to pay disabled workers far below minimum wage is also true. Goodwill does it all the time and then pat themselves on the back and says that disabled people should appreciate the fact that they have any jobs at all. I am not making that up the CEO of Goodwill actually said that in an interview I saw within the last two years. A doctor once told me that because of the differences in how my body functions the reason it felt like doing every day normal things felt like it took me 10 times more effort than it took an able-bodied person to do the exact same thing was because it actually did, it wasn’t something made up in my head.
If we went by that logic disabled employees would shock most of their able-bodied bosses if they asked to be paid based on the amount of effort it takes them to complete a job. We are not asking for that, though, we are only asking to be paid comparable wages to those of our able-bodied co-workers. The minimum wage for able-bodied people is arguably not a living wage but it is a whole lot closer than $.18 an hour which is what the Goodwill Corporation gets away with paying some of it disabled employees based on timed “performance evaluations” which consist of putting as many clothes on hangers as possible. Someone standing over them with a stopwatch and they are allowed three mistakes before their pay gets docked. I don’t know about any other physically disabled person but for me personally my spasticity comes out the worst in situations when I feel like I’m being put on the spot which means that if I were their employee the worst time to assume an accurate representation of my abilities would be when someone is standing over me with a stopwatch.
Many kinds and well-meaning people have suggested Goodwill as a possible place of employment for me over the years. Prior to learning about how their performance evaluations are done I have always said thank you but I’d rather not, citing the fact that I find their commercials featuring disabled people to be patronizing and smacking of what I would term as a “benefactor complex,” the commercials always seem to say “look at us aren’t we wonderful for deigning to give this inferior person busywork and a pittance of a wage while we exploit them because half of them don’t know any better and the other half are too grateful for the smallest crumb to complain much.” That was before I knew about the practices now I would probably slap someone in the face.
In truth, I do not think I have ever felt like a presidential candidate truly shared my concerns. Say all the negative you want about Pres. Obama but when he was during his town meeting tour he helped a caregiver on her work shift so that he could make the time to talk to her. He changed the man’s sheets, made him lunch and had a conversation with both of them. Not a single president before him has done anything like that. Not one. A blind deaf man (who I believe is a lawyer) was invited to the White House and Pres. Obama didn’t even blink when the man requested that they used a special keyboard which would change the type text into braille that the man could then read even though the President had no experience with the device whatsoever prior to meeting this man.
The only way I currently see for the White House to be seen as taking the concerns of its disabled citizenry as seriously as they must be taken is to elect Bernie Sanders for president. Donald Trump does not care about anybody but himself and sure as hell do not care one iota for the disabled community. As for Hillary Clinton I can’t trust her path as far as I can throw her, she may give lip service to the disabled communities but it is mediocre at best and she only started doing so to keep up with Bernie.
To able-bodied people who may be thinking why should I care about these issues? I say two things… 1 Someday they will be your issues too,you are one illness, one accident, one choice, from being a member of our community. Perfect health is a fleeting and fickle thing. 2 We may be the largest minority in the world but we are still considered a minority. We have been screaming for equality for years that the able-bodied majority talks over us all the time. We need able-bodied allies willing to tell people to sit down shut up and listen. The great thing about alliances if they work both ways, help me fight my fights and I will be in the trenches with you over yours. The 1% has a great majority of the 99% fooled into thinking that labels really matter, there are people within the 1% who will step on our necks and crush us like ants and they don’t care what color our skin is. There are so many good and necessary movements going on right now that can only be made stronger if we collaborated, if my movement became your movement in your movement became mine.
Black Lives Matter. Every bit as much as mine does. Police violence against people of color for no other reason than they are people of color is wrong. As citizens of the United States, we talk a lot about freedom but the sad fact is that some of us are much better talking than walking. Our history has given us this idea that all men are created equal in this country. The sad fact is that it has fallen short and forgotten to include a great many of its citizens. I sure as heck did not feel as though I am treated the same as an able-bodied person. It’s 2016 and women still are not paid on par with men who have the same skill set. That’s not equality. A high school cafeteria worker shot while reaching for his license and car registration just because he also happen to have a firearm which was legally registered to him in the same glove box as the car registration is not equality. For a long time I have done my best to keep my blog politically neutral but sometimes all silence does is help the wrong side win so far an indeterminate future my blog will be exactly as political as I feel it needs to be. Nothing About Us Without Us. All Of Us.