The Politics of Access: A Waiting Game

Hey there, back again with first post in the new year and honestly I’ve been balled up in bed trying to keep warm. Hibernating my way through winter, my least favorite season even if the snow falling from indoors is rather sweet to watch. Soups, stews and warm beverages all add to the ambiance and help me armor the tidal wave of feeling trapped-in. I’ve lived in the Northeast all my life, seasonal changes I like, snow, ice, frigid temps I do despise.

While trying to keep the body heat regulated, I’ve kept a watchful eye on the latest assaults on disability rights. Currently in Congress’s crosshairs is #HR620 “ADA Education and Reform Act.” Since writing about it recently here it’s passed in the House and now needs to gain Senate approval before being signed into law.

It’s been almost 30 years since the ADA was enacted, that’s nearly 3 whole decades for businesses to comply with the law so disabled persons who have a range of disabilities and hail from every community and identity can have access. We’re not talking about getting extra either, this is about seeking equity and justice. This is about quality of life, plain and simple. That reasoning should resonate with many folks, however, sadly it often escapes the purview of everyday people and elected officials in power as history and current kick-in-the-gut on disability rights attest.

It’s an egregiously sad commentary that we have to even mandate civil rights because by virtue of just being born respect and basic human rights are not automatically afforded. Think about that. Let that sink in.

As a disabled Black woman, it’s not lost on me that I sit at the convergence of 3 movements— Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Disability Rights. A beneficiary of hard work done by myriads of social justice forebears who put in marathon hours and covered minutiae of details that created these history-making mosaics of progress. Each received their critiques, problematic perhaps in their own way in terms of excluding and/or downplaying the contributions of women, women of color, and people of color.

Whether you participated in sit-ins, stood up, marched, or crawled as in the Capitol Crawl of March 1990 that predated the eventual signing of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” later that July, please know that commitment is absorbed in gratitude. My life and existence is made that much easier to navigate because of legislation and such pathways painstakingly plowed.

Personally, disability has been humbling AF, and I find sometimes “success” is measured in single steps & whole staccato-strides, days when the gamut of emotions run amok. When you feel like giving a big fat middle finger to bad policies & meager budget proposals. When you high-five folks who arrive right on time to assist when you didn’t plan on needing it. Disability is rife with range and nuance and waiting, lots and lots of waiting.

Disabled folks are tired of waiting. Bone tired. Cellular-level tired. To be heard, seen, acknowledged. For doors to be opened, for seats at the table, for accommodations, for comprehensive media representation, for societal attitudes and consciousness to be raised and conversations elevated, for treatment that isn’t infantilizing and patronizing.

And in between the waiting many of us direct attention to self-care, care-giving, strategizing, scratching our heads, managing households, finding reasons to smile when there’s heap more to shake fists at….waiting, ad nauseam in what feels like social and political purgatory.

Streamlined access, peace of mind, no worries about preparation, logistics and developing anxiety upon arrival of any kind….sounds a bit like utopia.


4 thoughts on “The Politics of Access: A Waiting Game

  1. It is also hard for people with disabilities who appear normal and have no obvious physical or mental defects. People can’t understand how you could be disabled and appear to act normal.

    There is much ignorance and lack of compassion in today’s world.


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