All I can do is post what just came out in response to the umpteenth American friend’s casual link to the unwitting privilege ALL white people have and expressing that we are ‘too sensitive and fragile’ given all our ‘white privilege’.. It is un PC and unprofessional NOT to divide the two and recognise that my disability doesn’t cancel out my white privilege but….. but somehow I can’t. I’m tired of having the anger directed at me and the pain of disability erased. Women with BABIES and jobs and accorded dignities and salaried who call my grief ‘white tears and look away because I am not black. No more does their being Black cancel out their able privilege,
And I’d rather be blocked than stay silent! If you already have a lived experience of abuse that ‘fragility’ is a very real thing which can actually take you to the very edge and if cruel people have spent years telling you that ‘sensitivity’ to bullies, abuse, rape, gynaecological injustice and violence is something to be mocked then however hurt by racial injustice the writer who calls you ‘fragile’ has just joined the ranks of those reminding you you are …nothing. If you aren’t just upset but suicidal it is time you spoke out as well. The expression ‘White girl tears’ that was once used to attack me? As a UK citizen I’m not aware of it and if someone can BE that abusive they have more power than I do. If I’d ended up in hospital that night, only the fact of a blood match would have mattered. and yes it matters because bullying is bullying and I could have died and am tired of pretending I didn’t think of suicide for a week.
I’m not articulate enough for this and others will have described unregarded privilege but should I think for one minute I am “better and more important” it will not be long before someone tells me different. And if white people are writing about how ‘we’ are unaware of our priviledges” they are not yet someone writing from the perspective of someone born disabled. In a society that still segregates disabled people it is a little early to say ‘we’. Snatched children, health inequalities, end of life care, until we have studied it how can we glibly say “we”. Being disabled may not cancel out white privilege but it removes many of the things that people assume all white people have access to and many of the things black people have access to. And people don’t even KNOW. It isn’t an oppression Olympics but it is like the charity collector shouting, “Hey, what have you done for charity?” at the cancer victim. I’m as tired of pretending it doesn’t hurt as Black people are of pretending White crappy attitudes and history don’t hurt. As a white person I may be represented but my absence in history is crushing too. The asylums and current crip history is not pretty and able bodied people are discounting much that is brutal and bleak.
As I am a WHITE woman people don’t even realise this is happening. The reaction seems to be almost, “You’re white, you’ll be OK, your privileges will buoy you up. Or disbelief Do people think that white people never reject their own? That no white social group is pushed out to the margins to starve? Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird and many others make a dual point about colour, race, disability and mental illness as stigmatised by dominant people.
Did I get a pass to not be abused, or put in care, or have my child stolen, Of course not. But this is lost in that generalisation. While I write similar stuff on disability and what able bodied people could do better and knowing I will never have the power to make someone feel even a little bit determined to do better I am bombarded with the message that I am worthless from all sides.
Honestly when I know that disabled people are being ‘privileged’ as ‘better than those foreigners’ is that any better than passing privilege of being bi and mistaken for hetero is a true privilege? I think it stinks and I’ve hads all teh shame i can handle.
I think it has also made me aware that lumping all able bodied people together would be to deny the lived experience of powerlessness of many able bodied people, of many Black people….However many unconscious mistakes I make, as a person who already has to contend with being rejected by the very people I’m automatically supposed to agree with, it is especially painful to be told that “Of course, being white, YOU think X”. If I’m blunt, nobody but nobody has spent 30 years tracking the myriad ways that disabled people are erased. I’ve even been told that I shouldn’t discuss that because “That’s your problem to fix and I’m Black AND disabled, you’re on your own white Girl” (if she is ALSO disabled how come disability discrimination is not close to her heart?) It stank. It was one person but some of the most sickening bullying I have ever experienced for the sake of her anger and polemic is it any better that SHE should become a bully? It takes courage to press ‘return’ and like so much polemic it will do no good… but people should think. Fragility does not rest in one race. and hurt is hurt. And a culture that still sterilises Black women AND white disabled women isn’t quite at giving us POWER yet!