Joshua Wilson and What You Don’t Get About Autonomy

This is Joshua Wilson. He's sitting in his orange wheelchair and wearing a black shirt, gray sweatpants, and black Adidas sandals with socks. He's posed.
Image ID: this is Joshua Wilson. He’s sitting in his orange wheelchair and wearing a black shirt, gray sweatpants, and black Adidas sandals with socks. He’s posed.

Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: submissions@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

All over, I have seen Joshua Wilson thrown out of his wheelchair as he protested for BLM. I will not post that here. I will link to there article that was written up by the LA Times that you can read here. It’s not to spare my own feelings, but it’s because he has suffered enough. I will say that every time that I see it shared, it does upset me. I wish it upset some people as it upset some in my beautiful circle.

I watched that video and saw so much violence. I see a man who is crawling. You don’t get it if you are able-bodied, but fellow wheelchair users do. Anyone who relies on a mobility device does. As a full-time wheelchair user who is paralyzed and relies on her wheelchair to get her through life, I felt fear as I watched this. If you take my wheelchair, you take my freedom. You take my legs.

Do you understand that taking a wheelchair away from a disabled person is an act of a violence? To take away my mobility device is an act of violence in itself? To take away away my freedom is an act of violence against me? We have talked so much about the way that Joshua was violent, but we hadn’t talked about the violence that was committed to him once he was left to crawl. Let that stink in.

I see a Black disabled man and think of multiple conversations that are happening my community right now. A community I that love. I think of a lot of things happening. This is Disability Pride Month, but this made me sit in silence. We’ve been having conversations about this a lot– and I thought progress was happening. Then I see this and I realize that we have to fight. We have to fight harder. In case you were wondering: here is a good resource on this exact issue.

I see people saying that he was a felon, that he had incited violence, and so many things. I will not listen. I will not hear this. That means that you feel that multiple men (who are able-bodied) against a disabled man is equal. It’s not. I remember being a young girl and having a neighbor on my street who was quite testy. Let’s frame it that way for the sake of the argument. She often would yell out names and even had thrown rocks at a friend of mine. She was in her 80s though. Do you know why I never threw a rock back? I was a 11 year old, able-bodied, and could hurt her.

Are you following this logically?

If you watched this video and felt that there were no ways to deescalate this situation than it means that you do not see it as violence to take away a disabled person’s mobility device. It means you do not get me. It means that if someone took my chair that you couldn’t get my experience. You don’t get me at the core. It means you’re not listening to what people are saying about their experiences. It means you’re not listening when my friend is fighting to get listened to when they won’t treat her correctly for her sickle-cell or that the access to Black disability services are not as fair.

This is all I have left to say.

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