Many people don’t realize that hate, intolerance and discrimination are not based only upon color of the skin today. Historically; however, there was much more focus on skin color involving these evils than there is currently. We have made some progress, thankfully. Now we have Federal Protected Classes: Race, Color, Religion or Creed, National Origin or Ancestry, Gender, Pregnancy, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Age, Disability – Physical or Mental, Veteran Status, Genetic Information, Citizenship and Familial Status. These Protected Classes are supposed to ameliorate the evils of discrimination, intolerance and hatred.
But even government-legislated protection doesn’t seem to stop society from developing these evils against people because they are different. For many, it sadly seems far easier to hate than to try to understand and accept others’ differences.
The answer may lie in education. If citizens would just take time to educate themselves about the differences and try to take into consideration how others feel based on their own experience, maybe we could discover a place where people could truly love and accept one another for who they are. We, as advocates with disabilities, certainly know about the discrimination and the ignorance society often has toward us. Hate can be fueled because of ignorance and a lack of willingness to change.
We hear the patronizing in people’s voices. We feel the stares behind our backs. We know that society often has pity rather than empathy for us. And we know, down deep in our hearts, that some have a total disregard for us and just wish we would go away.
If people would take the time to educate themselves about our disability and empathize with our styles, they would understand why we have disability pride. We’re proud of who we are! We’re proud of our disability. We’re proud of our accomplishments. The disability movement focuses on removing barriers for those with disabilities wherever and whenever we can.
If we could only remove the hate, intolerance and discrimination, what a wonderful world this would be.