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Archive for May, 2011

The Beginning Of Something: somethings happening here..

We are more than 650 million worldwide. Our history is deeply intertwined with every other subculture here in the United States & beyond. We are, the majority of us, among the poorest of the poor. At the same time our population holds great indirect economic & social powers. Today, we are called “the physically and mentally challenged” by systems that call themselves and/or think of themselves as socially progressive.

It cannot be denied that within the last 40 years our population has achieved a much stronger voice within most so called “advanced civilizations,” however there is much more to be done.

Today it seems that we accept a very Liberal spine on our freedoms. Liberal meaning social niceties, we accept that our rights must be accessed through “Gate Keeping” systems. The definition of activism for most of us is dictated by that very “Gate Keeping” system. Most of the social programs and even grassroots organizations are strongly funded by the same government sources that act to manage the life sustaining funding for things like food stamps & independence-improving equipment. Because of this intricate intertwining, any activism coming out of these advocacy groups is watered down. The reason is obvious; one is not willing to bite the hand that feeds. Activism too often becomes about staying safe. Activism circulating around “Walk/Rolls for Independence,” picnics, & toothless legislation, these do not represent true actions for change.

We must organize. Organizing would mean taking power away from the “Gate Keepers,” from social services, from governess bodies, and putting it into the hands of the community. We cannot enact this “power shift” alone. We must gather! However, the key is to avoid formalizing the power structure, meaning reject the idea that a group must be a 501c3 in order to effectively shift the power paradigm. Because the minute a group becomes formalized under government oversight, it falls in step with maintaining the statuesque, no matter what good intentions it started out with. We must gather around kitchen tables, at coffee houses, & anywhere else possible. We must gather to strategize! There are fundamental truths that need to be laid out before one can begin to work out strategy for organizing.

This is where laying out what we have called Fundamental Truths comes into play. The first truth is that many of the “physically challenged”:
1. Do not know our collective history.
2. Are separated into specialized groupings depending on disability. This is done by the “helping system” to streamline and more effectively assist us.
3. Our community has unknowing adopted these classifications to maintain what can be seen as a hierarchy of disabilities. For example, at the top of our subculture are those who were at one time fully able-bodied; at the bottom are those who have been born with their so called limitation. Understand that these observations are not cut and dry, but the destinations do exists.
4. Our community is purposely undereducated. We are closed out of many educational opportunities, due to the fact that those who move through the educational systems in developed countries often receive inadequate tutelage. Due to improvements within the education system in the U.S., more of our population has access to higher education. Still so many of us do not reach this level of education and those who do often spend a lot of time re-proving their abilities over and over again. This is no truer for our non spinal cord injured community members.
5. This will prove to be the most controversial foundational point: that the “helping system” makes money off of sustaining our subculture in a state of uneducated poverty.
6. We are too often satisfied with changes passed down through and by the system. Those changes brought about by grass roots “Direct Action” are too often not supported by the systems of power within the civilizations.

There are two points that need to be further fleshed out. The first is the fact that the helping system makes money off of our population by keeping us in a state of non-educated poverty. So often the public at large notes the great expense, even the burden of the “disabled community.” If one looks deeply into the economic structure surrounding supporting, training, and rehabilitating our community, it is suspected one would find millions of social workers, wheelchair dealership representatives, support staff and many more; they are make billions of dollars collectively off of Our population. The truth is that our community overwhelmingly wishes to be truly fully engaged in society. There are those who have been so reliant on the system that they cannot see themselves outside of it. Even if they wanted or thought they could be free of it, chances are it would be too expensive to live outside system.

This document is not trying to argue for a dismantling of the system, just a reformation. It is not the point here to argue what this reformation will look like. It is important though, to include the effected population in the rethink. That brings us to the second point. Ideas of education disparities and this will lead us back to the system rethink idea. We have a history and very few in our community really understand that history in full. It must be said that the history of the physically challenged population is a complex one, more so then with other minorities, because we are made up of all the varying minorities and subcultures worldwide.

We are made up of all other minorities. We are sexual beings: straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered. We come from all economic backgrounds. Not only do we have to face the bearers born out of the perception of the physically challenged put on us by the larger world, but we also deal with all the other intricacies of our backgrounds. With all this to deal with on top of our great poverty, the task of organizing can seem impossible. However we can find commonality in and across our challenges. We must see the history behind the formation and razing of the subculture. If we look deep, our struggles are not about doors being closed to us; it is not about our being undereducated, or the purposeful institutionalization that we live under and with. All these things are born out of a need for true civil rights. Our history shows many organizations birthed through radical and good reason, they have either passed into history or have been pacified and, with that, they have largely become a part of the “helping system.”

What is to be done? It is easy to say we have come a long way, because we have. It is easy to say there is more that needs done, the fight for equality is never complete because injustice lives. It is easy to call for change. Now for the difficult thing! I call my people to rise up! Look at yourselves and see the gifts we inherently have that no educational institution has granted us. Think about what we could and can do if all in our population had the opportunity to foster those gifts more fully. We could get the education we deserve, not only that, but we could claim more fully our own gifts! I thought I would define our possibilities here, but I will not. I cannot because our people are a dynamic and gifted group. I cannot tell what our impact would be if we galvanized our true talents.

I call you to a hard task; wake up! Understand that we are being used. We have made a lot of money for a lot of people through are involvement and over-reliance on their system. We must call for an end to mediocrity within our numbers and in those who will become true advocates for us. Note that I have benefited from the system; I call us to simply not be defined by the system. To do this we must work to embed ourselves into our given communities. I believe being seen in the world as active, thinking people will break stereotypes held by those outside our subculture.

The difficult thing to do now is to gather, knowing we are different, understanding that those life differences help to add to the toolbox for crafting a strategy for moving out into the larger world as a community. What we have is a history within our subculture. It is a powerful history and one that can bring us together! We must learn it or go back to it so we can act as “One Body.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was fond of the story of the Good Samaritan, but he often said he did not wish to be the Good Samaritan. Dr. King longed to help those in need long before they were beat up…The call by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is for us to to fix the Jericho Road so that a traveler will not find themselves endangered by travailing it in the first place… I call us to actively organize!

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The Beginning Of Something: somethings happening here..

We are more than 650 million worldwide. Our history is deeply intertwined with every other subculture here in the United States & beyond. We are, the majority of us, among the poorest of the poor. At the same time our population holds great indirect economic & social powers. Today, we are called “the physically and mentally challenged” by systems that call themselves and/or think of themselves as socially progressive.

It cannot be denied that within the last 40 years our population has achieved a much stronger voice within most so called “advanced civilizations,” however there is much more to be done.

Today it seems that we accept a very Liberal spine on our freedoms. Liberal meaning social niceties, we accept that our rights must be accessed through “Gate Keeping” systems. The definition of activism for most of us is dictated by that very “Gate Keeping” system. Most of the social programs and even grassroots organizations are strongly funded by the same government sources that act to manage the life sustaining funding for things like food stamps & independence-improving equipment. Because of this intricate intertwining, any activism coming out of these advocacy groups is watered down. The reason is obvious; one is not willing to bite the hand that feeds. Activism too often becomes about staying safe. Activism circulating around “Walk/Rolls for Independence,” picnics, & toothless legislation, these do not represent true actions for change.

We must organize. Organizing would mean taking power away from the “Gate Keepers,” from social services, from governess bodies, and putting it into the hands of the community. We cannot enact this “power shift” alone. We must gather! However, the key is to avoid formalizing the power structure, meaning reject the idea that a group must be a 501c3 in order to effectively shift the power paradigm. Because the minute a group becomes formalized under government oversight, it falls in step with maintaining the statuesque, no matter what good intentions it started out with. We must gather around kitchen tables, at coffee houses, & anywhere else possible. We must gather to strategize! There are fundamental truths that need to be laid out before one can begin to work out strategy for organizing.

This is where laying out what we have called Fundamental Truths comes into play. The first truth is that many of the “physically challenged”:
1. Do not know our collective history.
2. Are separated into specialized groupings depending on disability. This is done by the “helping system” to streamline and more effectively assist us.
3. Our community has unknowing adopted these classifications to maintain what can be seen as a hierarchy of disabilities. For example, at the top of our subculture are those who were at one time fully able-bodied; at the bottom are those who have been born with their so called limitation. Understand that these observations are not cut and dry, but the destinations do exists.
4. Our community is purposely undereducated. We are closed out of many educational opportunities, due to the fact that those who move through the educational systems in developed countries often receive inadequate tutelage. Due to improvements within the education system in the U.S., more of our population has access to higher education. Still so many of us do not reach this level of education and those who do often spend a lot of time re-proving their abilities over and over again. This is no truer for our non spinal cord injured community members.
5. This will prove to be the most controversial foundational point: that the “helping system” makes money off of sustaining our subculture in a state of uneducated poverty.
6. We are too often satisfied with changes passed down through and by the system. Those changes brought about by grass roots “Direct Action” are too often not supported by the systems of power within the civilizations.

There are two points that need to be further fleshed out. The first is the fact that the helping system makes money off of our population by keeping us in a state of non-educated poverty. So often the public at large notes the great expense, even the burden of the “disabled community.” If one looks deeply into the economic structure surrounding supporting, training, and rehabilitating our community, it is suspected one would find millions of social workers, wheelchair dealership representatives, support staff and many more; they are make billions of dollars collectively off of Our population. The truth is that our community overwhelmingly wishes to be truly fully engaged in society. There are those who have been so reliant on the system that they cannot see themselves outside of it. Even if they wanted or thought they could be free of it, chances are it would be too expensive to live outside system.

This document is not trying to argue for a dismantling of the system, just a reformation. It is not the point here to argue what this reformation will look like. It is important though, to include the effected population in the rethink. That brings us to the second point. Ideas of education disparities and this will lead us back to the system rethink idea. We have a history and very few in our community really understand that history in full. It must be said that the history of the physically challenged population is a complex one, more so then with other minorities, because we are made up of all the varying minorities and subcultures worldwide.

We are made up of all other minorities. We are sexual beings: straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered. We come from all economic backgrounds. Not only do we have to face the bearers born out of the perception of the physically challenged put on us by the larger world, but we also deal with all the other intricacies of our backgrounds. With all this to deal with on top of our great poverty, the task of organizing can seem impossible. However we can find commonality in and across our challenges. We must see the history behind the formation and razing of the subculture. If we look deep, our struggles are not about doors being closed to us; it is not about our being undereducated, or the purposeful institutionalization that we live under and with. All these things are born out of a need for true civil rights. Our history shows many organizations birthed through radical and good reason, they have either passed into history or have been pacified and, with that, they have largely become a part of the “helping system.”

What is to be done? It is easy to say we have come a long way, because we have. It is easy to say there is more that needs done, the fight for equality is never complete because injustice lives. It is easy to call for change. Now for the difficult thing! I call my people to rise up! Look at yourselves and see the gifts we inherently have that no educational institution has granted us. Think about what we could and can do if all in our population had the opportunity to foster those gifts more fully. We could get the education we deserve, not only that, but we could claim more fully our own gifts! I thought I would define our possibilities here, but I will not. I cannot because our people are a dynamic and gifted group. I cannot tell what our impact would be if we galvanized our true talents.

I call you to a hard task; wake up! Understand that we are being used. We have made a lot of money for a lot of people through are involvement and over-reliance on their system. We must call for an end to mediocrity within our numbers and in those who will become true advocates for us. Note that I have benefited from the system; I call us to simply not be defined by the system. To do this we must work to embed ourselves into our given communities. I believe being seen in the world as active, thinking people will break stereotypes held by those outside our subculture.

The difficult thing to do now is to gather, knowing we are different, understanding that those life differences help to add to the toolbox for crafting a strategy for moving out into the larger world as a community. What we have is a history within our subculture. It is a powerful history and one that can bring us together! We must learn it or go back to it so we can act as “One Body.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was fond of the story of the Good Samaritan, but he often said he did not wish to be the Good Samaritan. Dr. King longed to help those in need long before they were beat up…The call by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is for us to to fix the Jericho Road so that a traveler will not find themselves endangered by travailing it in the first place… I call us to actively organize!

Read Full Post »