Michael Holden: All Lives Matter

We on these islands have become used to the terminology of institutional racism and more recently this has developed into new terminology of systemic racism. In recent days this has been supported by mass protests in support of those who suffer at the hands of this identified discrimination. I would like to highlight that we in the disabled community have also suffered for decades in what I shall refer to as systemic ableism, yet we have not seen the same public display of outrage.

Many stories of disabled people being abused have also been in the headlines of late and still, the public anger leading to protest is absent. Even when we take to protesting quietly ourselves for something as necessary as basic toilet provision, disabled people are treated akin to second class citizens by even the most senior of public and private service providers through derisory dismissal. Like other injustices, strides have been made to make improvements, but nothing near enough in getting to the finish line. Whilst not recalling a story of a disabled person losing their life as a result of direct willful action, I could certainly name instances of death through willful inaction.

Why is it that these issues do not command the same public outrage? I would guess that it is because large numbers of our society are guilty of soft ableism themselves – this being too awful for individuals to contemplate that they may play a part. I could list so many instances in daily living when my community is discriminated against; that it would make the toes curl! Whether that be from denying us a space on public transport or access to premises, even opportunities to work for a living as a valued equally paid employee.

 

Too often disability is linked to social welfare as the answer to our needs, which carries its own unique negative stories, when most disabled people would much rather have a better lifestyle, driven through equity to live, work and contribute just as everyone else does. In the effort to end discrimination, every section is entitled to benefit from the outcomes and not just a select demographic. It is in that regard that I would sincerely say that all lives matter.