But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?

If you’re the member of any sort of minority, chances are you’ve run across this. Some friend, family member, or vague acquaintance ends up in a situation where they are confronted with their own inherent biases in some way, and they feel the need to run to you as the Representative of Minority Co. to explain the situation.

For example, imagine you have a friend name Betty who is the owner of a small business who is hiring someone to work as a part of that business. She has narrowed her choice down to two ideal candidates, who are identical in terms of qualifications. Both have the right amount of experience, the same great attitude and personality that fits into the team dynamic, in terms of “reasons to hire” the two are completely interchangeable. Except that Candidate A is abled while Candidate B is disabled.

Now Betty is not a Capital A Ableist. She knows that disabled people are just as capable as abled people, she truly believes that the world should be accessible, and has all the empathy for disabled people having a difficult time being able to find gainful employment. Betty has signed countless petitions to make accessibility more prevalent, her own brother even has a disability. Betty is an ALLY!

But Betty’s business is small, and even with the added help, she is hopelessly overworked. Candidate B’s disability will require the company to undergo some work to make it completely accessible. Maybe, it would even cost her some money to get some needed program or service, or to make some changes to the physical location of the business. She was already putting pressure on her budget by hiring a new person, the added finances would be just too much. She would have to close up shop, and it’s not really fair to her or to any of her other employees, or to her family, to jeopardize her business for the sake of one person. If they had been better qualified and the best option than of course, it would be no question, but the two candidates are completely identical and really it’s a coin toss one way or the other. Wouldn’t it be just as unfair to Candidate A to only not hire them because they’re not disabled? She makes her choice and then next time at dinner with her brother’s she lays the whole story out and asks:

“Can you understand where I’m coming from?” Continue reading “But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?”

But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?
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Genocide Doesn’t Look Like you Think

Sometimes I forget that most people only have a very basic idea of what happened during the Holocaust.

I don’t entirely remember what came first, me coming across a book that took place during the holocaust, or finding out that family members of mine had been imprisoned in Auschwitz. At some point, however, the combination of both of these events sparked a sort obsession in me. I began reading everything I could find on the subject including quite a few different diaries, personal accounts, and well researched fiction, in addition to histories, articles, and non-fiction books.

So often, we have a tendency to see genocide as very specific things – gas chambers, firing squads, mass graves. We think of specific acts of murder. But so often, genocide doesn’t look like obvious acts of murder.

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Genocide Doesn’t Look Like you Think

I’m Tired.

If ever there was a motto for our generation, this would probably be it.

I’m so tired.

I’m tired of my news feed being one atrocity after another. Of each new headline convincing me that I’ve finally reached the peak of shock and fury I could feel, only to be proved wrong when I read the next one.  Of watching the world seemingly falling apart at the seams.

I’m tired of listening to people make excuses while the body counts grow ever higher. Of quibbling over whether a problem really even exists or whether these are just a few bad examples. Of arguing whether genocide is too severe a word, or whether these here actually count as concentration camps. As though just the fact that these words could be applied isn’t horrifying enough. As though we shouldn’t be striving to stop things before they reach this point.

I’m tired of listening to people make excuses for why this act of violence is excusable and acceptable while condemning those just trying to defend themselves and others. Continue reading “I’m Tired.”

I’m Tired.

Politics, Public Relations, and Social Psychology

With the federal elections of both Canada and the US approaching, not to mention the constant political maneuvering happening across provinces and states, a lot of things are happening at once. It can feel like a whirlwind, just getting your bearings about one issue before the next one suddenly crops up demanding your attention. The breakneck pace of the news cycle means that a lot of the resolution or lack thereof of one issue often gets missed.

It’s the perfect setting to employ several tricks of social psychology that make it possible for politicians (and salespeople and so on) to change the conversation without ever having to convince the electorate of the issue. I’ve talked about at least one of these social psychology manipulation techniques before.

Additionally, it allows them to employ several public relations tricks to encourage several extreme side groups, while also counting on the majority of the population to forget about it before it’s time to vote.

It’s called a Test Balloon.

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Politics, Public Relations, and Social Psychology

3 Comments on Politics that are Just Wrong

Whenever topics surrounding social justice come up, it’s not uncommon for certain phrases or responses to come up again and again. Although the specific wording might vary, the phrases share similar characteristics in common: they’re dismissive and are meant to shut down the conversation without acknowledging any need or responsibility for solving the problem under discussion. It’s not uncommon for otherwise well-meaning people to use these specious phrases because of fundamentally flawed initial assumptions.

It’s Just Politics

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3 Comments on Politics that are Just Wrong

Quickie: It’s Victim Blaming and It’s Racist

The comment that influx of migrants and refugees disproportionately affects the poor is actually and demonstrably false. The biggest increase I saw to my ODSP came around when Canada accepted a large contingent of Syrian and Somali refugees.

In addition, historically, forced improvements to social safety nets to deal with the sudden influx of new users actually strengthen those safety nets and tend to improve services for existing citizens and users of those services.

Where it does affect the poor is when conservatives make cuts to those social safety nets, then blame it on refugees. It’s literally them taking food out of our mouths, then blaming it on the person starving next to us. It’s a diversionary tactic that allows politicians to redirect the anger legitimately directed at them [the service cutting politicians] towards a more vulnerable population by playing on existing, unacknowledged, ignored, and normalized social racism.

It’s practically a political cartoon of someone physically stealing something from you in front of you then pointing at another person saying, “hey, they look different than you, clearly they must have stolen it.” without even bothering to hide what they’re doing.

To blame an influx of refugees for a rise in white supremacist sentiments is literally to blame the victims of racism for the existence of racism. That racism was already present, it just wasn’t talked about or more accurately was claimed to no longer be a problem despite all evidence to the contrary, making it easy for anyone to harness those sentiments for political gain.

It’s victim blaming, and it’s racist.

Quickie: It’s Victim Blaming and It’s Racist

Feeling Bad is Not the Same Thing As Being Sorry

CW: Discussion of Racism, Brock Turner, Abuse, Assault.

There is this concept that I was taught growing up Catholic. It’s basically this: in order to actually earn god’s forgiveness during the sacrament of confession, it wasn’t enough to simply perform a recitation of your sins. You had to truly be sorry which meant not only regretting having done it or “feeling bad”, but acknowledging and accepting that what you had done was wrong, as well as a determination to do what you could to not repeat the sin. Without these elements, one could not actually receive absolution – supernatural forgiveness.

I disagree with a LOT of Catholic doctrine and policies, not to mention the acts of the church itself, but there is a lesson in this concept, which when removed from its religious entanglements, has a lot of relevance to our modern society. It’s one, ironically enough, that many Catholics themselves forget as well.

Too often, we as a society act as though people are entitled to forgiveness, especially if they say that they’re sorry or demonstrate some sort of bad feeling about what they’ve done. Too often, the mental and emotional labour of a given conflict is forced on the injured party.

Despite having been the one initially harmed by the interaction or inciting event, the onus is still on the victim to solve the conflict through a demonstration of forgiveness, often while the initial harm remains unacknowledged or outright ignored in favour of prioritizing the transgressor’s bad feeling. Beyond that, there is this sentiment that even acknowledging that hurt was done, or in any way bringing up the result of the transgression is treated as an unfair attack on the inciting person.

College Humour made a humorous sketch video showing what is meant to be a hyperbolic example of this in a situation where a white man makes a racist joke “by accident” to a woman of colour during what appears to be a work party.

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Feeling Bad is Not the Same Thing As Being Sorry

War on Patients

For all the various experiences I’ve had as a disabled person, a long distance move is a relatively new one. I’m lucky in a lot of ways because the place I’ve moved to isn’t completely new. Although it has been 13 years since I’ve lived here, my parents have been here that whole time. As a result, I have access to certain resources that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Among these resources is faster access to a family doctor – the same one that has served my family since I was a kid.

I’m lucky because that’s not the case for most people. There is currently a pretty significant shortage of Family Doctors or General Practicioners as they’re sometimes called. Your GP is meant to be the point person of your medical care. They’re responsible for managing the big picture of your overall health – receiving updates from all your specialists, all test results, providing referrals to specialists, and in many cases managing the vast majority of your prescriptions.

As part of my move, I had to transfer my prescriptions from Ottawa to here. Since I was using the same chain of pharmacies, I didn’t much foresee a problem. That’s because I didn’t know about a law that prevents pharmacies from transferring prescriptions that are categorized as narcotics. It’s part of the ongoing war on patients masquerading as the various wars on drugs. The problem is that narcotics are the recognized treatment for a variety of different conditions including ADHD. If I needed a refill of my medication, in this case Vyvanse, I would need to find a family doctor and get a brand new prescription.

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War on Patients

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 plastic 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 plastic 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