Rephrasing the words we use to advocate

Hi everyone! So I was thinking, sometimes the way we word our activism kind of contributes to the ableist system; hear me out—

I never really realized this until very recently when I lost my career, but when we say things like “I lost my job because of my disability” or we say “despite my disability” after listing an achievement, it’s like we are agreeing with the ableist notions that our disabilities are a problem that warrants failure. As if we can’t achieve something because of our bodies?

Please don’t think I am calling anyone out! I am very guilty of saying “despite my disability” so often and when I first lost my almost decade long broadcasting career I said it was “because of my disability”. The thing that really got me thinking into this concept was how I noticed I was putting the blame on myself every time I said how I lost my career, and that hurt me every time. It made me so depressed as I knew it wasn’t because of me or anything I did as I went above and beyond for almost 8 years and I always adapted to my situations. My disability wasn’t the problem—society refusing to adapt to the disabled was the problem. I knew this, so if I was telling people it was because of my disability, I was actively spreading ableist lies that could not have been farther from reality.

Instead of saying “despite/because of my disability”, maybe say something like “despite/because of the ableist society”. For example, instead of “Despite my disability, I became an award winning broadcast director at the age of 23”, say “despite the ableism in society, I became an award winning Broadcast Director at the age of 23.”. “I lost my job because of my disabilities” should be “I lost my job because of the ableist society.”. This way we are no longer subscribing to the ableist notion of our disabilities being the problem but addressing the ACTUAL problem.

Once I fully vocalized this concept in my video diary, I started to feel the weight of depression get lighter. Not only would changing the way we word our stories help our own mental wellness and self image, but it will also bring a more accurate image of disability in society.

What are your thoughts about this?

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