Friday, December 19, 2014

If Eric Garner was white: We need #DisabledLivesMatter

This was originally a post on my personal Facebook wall. It is presented here unedited.

Let me preface this entire post by saying that the concept of "reverse racism" is nonsense and bullshit. The opposite of racism is "not being racist."

Had Eric Garner been white, I wonder if we would have heard about his death. I think it's fair to say that the cop who killed him might have been properly charged (he also may not have been killed in the first place), but that's not the issue my mind is on. I doubt that there would have been a public outcry. There is no *systemic* killing of white people, thus no need for a "white lives matter" meme, but racism was not the only thing that threatened Eric Garner's life. He was black and also disabled. He would have very likely survived the illegal choke-hold if not for his asthma and heart disease, elements that his murderer may not have even been aware of.

In reality, Eric Garner's name is part of a long list we refer to when we say black lives matter. When people talk about Eric Garner, they don't say disabled lives matter; they say black lives matter.

In the hypothetical world where Eric Garner was white, there is still no "disabled lives matter" meme. His death goes unnoticed, because there is no existing issue to piggyback off of.

That is what disabled people have to do: Piggyback. We have to provide some reason for people to care about us other than our disabilities.

When Robin Williams died, the story was the sudden tragedy of a famous actor, not a bipolar man's long battle and eventual failure to cope. Debates about Beyoncé argue over whether she counts as a feminist, not whether she really has depression. Albert Einstein is famous for his contributions to science, not the autism that led to them.

The cultural meme is that disabled lives don't matter. Lives can be disabled and matter, but the disability can't be the reason.

#Black trans disabled lives matter