A BIT ABOUT ME
The reason for this website is that language plays a large role in all marginalized groups. I am a multi-neurodivergent individual who also has moderate to extreme anxiety; specifically, I have social and general anxiety and panic. When inching towards burnout, depression starts. Since I am a settler, disability is where my experience is at so I have taken it upon myself to do a thorough investigation of outdated words so I can clean up my language. This quote by Maya Angelou made so much sense to me, “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
A little history…
Attending kindergarten to grade 12 in the 1980 and 1990s in a conservative province, my understanding of Canada’s and the world’s history was unfortunately one sided and whitewashed. When I started college in 2001, an introduction to political science course introduced me to a new genre of books, Nonfiction. I know I was being tested for a learning disability that was missed before beginning college, however the shock of the mental illness part took many years to accept and understand. However, there was always that was missing for me. In September of 2002, I started my education in Disability Studies.
I did not know that the road I embarked on would take 13 years to finish, but it was worth it. During that time, I worked with people that had a variety of disabilities and support needs. I continued to work in the field while I completed courses towards a diploma to a bachelor’s and finally a master’s degree. I always kept myself grounded by working the front line. Only once did I become a supervisor. I quickly realized that I did not really like being a supervisor. The paperwork was not a problem, but the people were.
Standing still zone…
Fast forward to 2015 when Trump announced his intentions to run for President of the United States, which had me yelling at the television. Once he won, I decided I could no longer just be an armchair politician. That yelling at the television would not change one thing, as the televisions do not answer when you yell at them or so we hope. I didn’t know what to do to volunteer, but I knew I had to do something. This is when I also got back into reading, specifically nonfiction books on anti-oppression. I had a colleague who I knew previously was running the Amnesty International Canada local Chapter. They needed a bit of help, and I did not know where I wanted to start, so it was perfect.
I started attending regular meetings in October 2016. I volunteered with Amnesty International Canada Chapter until 2020. During that time, I had a few roles and then became a national field worker. I learned so much from the other volunteers who were from all over the country and had a wealth of knowledge and experience in the human rights area. The biggest take away was toward particular volunteers who pushed (more nudged me along) to see I may actually be autistic through many conversations. My time at Amnesty showed me what areas I wanted to spend my time volunteering in and what areas I did not. I found that I really wanted to focus on disability.
I was not one hundred percent sure where I wanted to be. What I found at Amnesty was that they have so many pokers in too many fires. I could not keep up with all the information, and when asked by someone when I was at an event, this would cause great anxiety. So, some events pushed me to go more local and grass roots. Michelle Robinson (@N8V_Calgarian), my informal mentor, put a call out for volunteers in 2020 and I have been with the Reconciliation Action group since then.
For about two years, there has been a collection of lists and words, micro-aggressions and stereotypes growing on the computer and in a notebook with not exactly a purpose. I had ideas but little direction or a why, with many conversations with friends and my partner. I always seemed to want to partner with another person or group.
In a conversation with Michelle, she stated, “do your own thing, make a website..” There was also a thought of a PHD. After long consideration and debates with family and my partner and being out of post-secondary since 2013 and liking the lifestyle that I had, writing a book, and starting a blog is where I put my efforts. A thorough analysis on YouTube about the writing community was in progress.
Words have power and language, and phrases make one think. I want to do my part to help educate people who want to learn about disability and other dehumanizing language to change their vocabulary. This blog is not for being politically correct or what the right wing says is “woke”. I am working on this blog to change attitudes and stigmas towards the Disability Community, with the goal of treating people better. I was a part of the Disability community from an early age and sadly have seen little change.
When we work on ableism, we can work on all other “isms”. To fight alongside all other marginalized groups because ableism is so tied up with racism and hate toward the Queer Community, so helping other groups which Disabled people belong to also is fighting against ableism as well. I am not here to shame anyone; that is not what this blog is. It is here simply to educate and provide an alternative to common euphemisms that are used against the disability community. I am speaking from my point of view and from my research.
The Disability Community is a very diverse, unique community… we are not a monolith. This is my experience. This blog does not speak for the whole disability community, nor could one person or blog ever do this. I speak as a disabled person, a sister to a developmentally delayed sister with higher support needs and as a worker who has worked in the field for 20 years with three degrees. I have a different perspective, but it is not the only one.