This week, I read No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement by Joseph P. Shapiro. When I finished it, I felt so incredibly stressed and frustrated, but also empowered.
It hurt to see how little our society and government think of people with disablities . In part, because if I'm disabled, then it's also what they think of me. (Obviously society approaches different PWD differently, but I am talking about on a general level, how society approaches disability and PWD.)
I have a lot of feelings about this book (and would highly recommend reading it), but what this post is about is the feelings this book brought up about my own identity. No Pity made it even more clear how important it is that people claim a disabled identity and that the disability civil rights movement is disability-led. The more people who are able to break the silence of the stigma and claim the label of disability for themselves, the stronger the disabled civil rights movement will be. And I want to be part of that good fight.
But the book also brings up my uneasiness about claiming a disabled identity. Because if I am disabled, I am only mildly disabled. Who am I to claim the label or to complain when people are institutionalized and denied even incredibly basic rights? There are so many other people facing so many more difficult things.
In my brain, I know that's silly--putting things on a scale of who is disabled enough. But in my heart, I still feel guilty.
Disabled or not, I want to be part of this fight for equality. And I will.