5 Things the Straw Ban Argument Shows us About How we Treat Disability

five things the straw ban argument reveals about how we treat disability over a picture of the sun reflected in water.
In the last few weeks, the increasingly frequent straw bans have sparked debates across social media and even the news. For those who are unfamiliar, the Straw Bans are a new fad of laws that ban reusable straws in an effort to reduce ocean waste and plastic. The popularity of the law was inspired by a viral video featuring something sad happening to a turtle. Environmentalism is great, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that reusable straws are necessary for the survival of people with certain disabilities. Necessary for Survival. Without them People Will Die.

I wish I could say that that statement marked the end of the matter and the question of whether or not it is worth proceeding. Instead, what’s followed is endless weeks and arguments about whether we’re really sure that’s we will really actually die, and don’t we know that that doesn’t really happen.

While I’m not one of the people directly affected by this ban, I say we because while the specifics here don’t apply to me, I recognize all too well ALL of the arguments that showed up during the debates. They’re the same arguments I’ve faced whenever the subject of any disability accommodation comes up. These same themes form many of the backbones of systemic ableism. They are the arguments that are essentially used to excuse banning people from immigration on the basis of disability, the arguments against raising disability support payments, putting together socialized pharmacy care, building accessible housing, providing easy accessibility, and so on and so forth.

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5 Things the Straw Ban Argument Shows us About How we Treat Disability
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I NEED YOU TO STAND WITNESS

CN: mentions of suicidal ideation

For the last little while, I’ve been struggling quite a bit. I’ve been trying desperately to fix the situation I was left in last year. I’ve been just barely getting by with help from friends, by taking out more debt, and by surviving off of stores I’ve had sitting by just in case.

Rather than getting any easier however, things have just been getting worse. My roommate had to move to BC for work and while I was able to find someone to take over his room, the rental agency had issues with him replacing my former roommate on the lease. I couldn’t very well leave my old roommates name on it, and my own financial situation means they are not willing to have it be in my name alone.

As such, I had to give my notice for the end of summer.

I knew the rental situation in Ottawa had gotten worse in the years I’ve been living at this place, but even so I was unprepared for the reality I am facing. The rent costs have skyrocketed to such a point, where $300 over what disability considers a reasonable housing allotment gets me a room in a house with six other people, and I can forget about the house being accessible, meaning I have no idea what to do with my wheelchair, let alone how to be able to live in a place I can’t physically navigate.

Essentially, the way things stand right now, at the end of August I am homeless.

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I NEED YOU TO STAND WITNESS

Let’s Chat: Ignoring Community Input on Strategic Priorities for the OPS

On Saturday July 14th, I signed up to attend a community consultation on Strategic Priorities for the Ottawa Police Service for the coming years. I attended at the request of a friend, an anti-torture activist who is desperately trying to convince the police force to stop the new policy that would give a taser to every police officer in Ottawa.

I agreed to attend not just because she asked me too, but also because for some time I’ve been thinking of ways to improve accessibility in Policing. Also, because I wanted to be a white face bringing up racism against people of colour.

Institutional Racism in the force is a problem that is starting to be talked about by more people not directly influenced by it, as it should, and is a major issue that needs MORE attention than it is currently getting. A related issue however is Institutional Ableism.

A recent review of fatal police interactions in Canada shows that most people killed by police are disabled. Something like 72% of those killed in police interactions were shown to be mentally ill or to have substance abuse problems, which is itself also considered a mental health issue.

In the US, 1 in 2 people killed by cops is disabled.

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Let’s Chat: Ignoring Community Input on Strategic Priorities for the OPS

Ableism Kills

A while back, I wrote a post begging the Canadian Government to open it’s borders to Americans with Disabilities as refugees from a slow-motion genocide. Someone left a comment on that post to which I’ve been meaning to respond for a long time.

CYNTHIA: I had previously mentioned this to Michael.

Reluctantly, as a fellow Canadian, I cannot fully support this.

As you know, the United States has 10x the population of Canada. It is a first-world country.

There is no way that the math works for Canada to be able to support the complex heath care needs of Americans with pre-existing conditions. As you mention, the system is already at capacity when it comes to providing proper health care with disability support programs for Canadians. No system can function unless you have a large base of relatively healthy people paying into the system to cover the costs of those who are using it more.

Of course, in a situation of someone being a genuine refugee from any country, humanitarian considerations should come into play. That can’t be extended to American “medical costs refugees”, though, because it would break our system.

In the long run, Canadians need a system that is sustainable – and ultimately, that benefits all Americans as well. Americans are looking at us to see how our single-payer system is functioning. If it works relatively well, that increases political support for it. If it doesn’t, that increases the dire warning about “socialized medicine”. The most vulnerable Americans ultimately need an American health care system that works, and they are less likely to get it if the Canadian health care system breaks or if ordinary American voters stop fearing the consequences of repealing Obamacare because they think that free health care will always be available to them in Canada. Right now, that fear has managed to stop the repeal attempts, to the benefit of all Americans who will ever need health care.

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Ableism Kills

I Can’t Move On, It’s Not Over Yet

I cant move on, it's not over yet imposed over a blurry picture of a frozen winter landscape
The type of writing I do, the type of people I connect with, I tend to come into contact with a lot of people who are struggling with medical systems. Because of my own experience navigating these same systems, as well as because of the way some of my areas of privilege align – and sometimes not even privilege but just random chance that turned out well, I have also been finding myself more and more acting as a patient advocate for people.

This can mean helping someone find a doctor, helping them come up with questions to ask or ways of phrasing things, making phone calls from location to location, and sometimes even showing up to physically advocate for someone.

There are many people who I have been able to help in some small way and it was enough for them to be able to move out of trouble enough not to need me anymore. There is one core group of people, however, who no matter how hard I advocate, what strings I try to pull, what privileges I bring down to bear, I never seem to manage to get through to their primary caregivers enough for them to start receiving the help they need. Continue reading “I Can’t Move On, It’s Not Over Yet”

I Can’t Move On, It’s Not Over Yet

Foot In the Door: The Rise of Nazi America

Text: The Rise of Nazi America, showing an American Flag where the stars are swastikas and behind the red bars of the flag are the silhouettes of two imprisoned children
It starts “innocently” enough.

Someone carves a swastika into a school desk or draws one inside a textbook. They don’t understand the symbolism. They don’t understand the horror, the pain, the death, that was brought about as a result of that symbol. They’re just trying to be edgy.

Youth of all stripes make the news when they joke at doing the Nazi salute or dress up in Nazi costumes, even those in the public eye like Prince Harry take their turn at parading around the costume. To them it’s just a joke. They never experienced what it was like to face a world where Nazis didn’t just exist, but wielded terrifying power.

It isn’t long before comment sections explode with the use of racial slurs. Words that were considered egregious social faux-pas are used like common expletives. They’re just kids enjoying the power of anonymity. They’re basement dwellers making themselves feel better by pretending to more power than they have and living fantasies of superiority.

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Foot In the Door: The Rise of Nazi America