Are you discriminated against because of your illness(es)? Have you seen it happen to others?
I read some tweets yesterday about people who are publicly discriminated against by strangers. People spit on them! I was horrified! Now I’m wondering, is this common? Have I been blind to it?
Most days I can “pass” as someone who is healthy, or as someone who appears to have an injury. I have never been in a wheelchair for more than a few hours at a time (in an airport, at a mall) and those times have been rare. When I was in a wheelchair some people were kind and held doors open, others were rude and verbally bashed me for blocking their path. Many people were ruder than I would have expected, but I can’t imagine that they would do worse But then, despite my cynicism, I still tend to give people too much credit. Sad, isn’t it? Anyway, most days I have a limp, or maybe have trouble opening a door, but for better or worse, most of my problems aren’t obvious to strangers. I can hide them if I want to or need to.
So if this really happens as much as the tweeters implied, how have I not see it? I know that I can be blind to many things in the world. Sometimes I’m in my own head as I walk down the street, and don’t notice a friend walking the other way. I drive someplace, and don’t remember how I got there. I believe the tweeters. I have no reason not to. My main doubt is about myself: did I happen to not see a few incidents, or is some part of my brain intentionally ignoring the problem? Are other people seeing it? I’m guessing they don’t, or I would have heard more about it sooner. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to pay more attention. I hope you will too. Have you seen this kind of thing? Have you done anything about it? Has it happened to you?
I hope you say no, that this hasn’t happened to you and you haven’t seen it. But I know the reality. It’s happened to someone. My hope from now on is this: that it won’t happen anymore. Let’s tell our friends and family and political representatives. Society as a whole needs to have more respect. It is not ok to treat each other like this. We need to care about and support each other. And we need to speak up when we see otherwise. I know I will.
Note: When I mention speaking up, of course I recommend only doing this when it is completely safe to do so. Please do not put yourself in danger in order to make this point.