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.

Salisbury Disability Pride Flag

It’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there's lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a "lightning bolt" band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.
Image ID: it’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there’s lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a “lightning bolt” band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.

Not only can you download your flag, but I’m going to show you a way that you can craft your own flag! From paper!

Download your flag below or by clicking this Google Drive link!

If you’ve been following me, you know that I am pretty darn excited that July was officially proclaimed as Disability Pride Month! In honor of that, I wanted to share that I made my own Disability Pride Flag. This flag was designed by Ann Magill. Thanks to Ann’s kind heart, I was able to add Salisbury’s logo because she has waived all copyright; aka meaning that it’s open to download, add other logos (like SBY’s), print and even make it into crafts or real flags! Way cool! Here’s the original post of Ann’s.

These are what the colors of the Disability Pride flag represent:

The Black Field: Mourning for all those who’ve suffered abuse and violence, because of ableism, also the connection to the pirates’ Jolly Roger flag, and general rebellion.

The five colors: the wide variety of types of disability: Mental illness, Intellectual disability, Sensory disability, Physical Disability, and Invisible or Undiagnosed Disability (I’d originally chosen which color goes with which disability, but everyone’s color associations are different, so you do you).

The zigzag shape: how disabled people have to always navigate barriers in the normate world & and the creative problem solving we do every day.

The zigzags are parallel to represent Disability Solidarity, even though our individual needs and experiences are different.

Ann Magill, Artist / Creator of the Disability Pride Flag

Create Your Own #SBYDisabilityPrideMonthFlag

As most of my friends know, I pride myself on being a crafty lady too! Due to it being focused on Disability, I want to stress this as an adaptable craft. A lot of times, I know that we often don’t see accessibility or adaptability included. However, this crafty lady (in particular) is a big advocate of both accessibility as well as crafting.

Due to my passion for both, I have included multiple ways to do this craft! Let’s go into the multiple ways to do it, so it’s accessible to all! By accessibility, I’m thinking of multiple levels of accessibility which includes level of physical access, as well as financial/physical aspects too, because oftentimes craft supplies can require shopping trips and be pricey! That’s just not always a possibility for disabled people, especially during a pandemic.

Let’s Make a Flag (More Accessible Options)

  • DOWNLOAD IT! Don’t feel pressure to craft it. Digital art is still art! We often push the narrative that digital art can’t be art, but it totally can! Draw on it, make a clip of yourself with it in the background, or even share it on social media! You can do so much. Don’t discount yourself if this is the only way that you can participate in crafting. I made the flag by digital crafting! It’s totally rad to digital craft. Don’t feel like you’re not a crafter if you can’t physically crafter. Seriously.
  • PRINT IT! Bam! You have a FLAG! Easy peasy. It makes it really easy! You can tape it to a mobility device, put it in your lap, or simply hold it! It won’t be exhausting either! Give some out to friends and family too! There are so many things you can do – include print it big! When you print it out, you can tape it anywhere! Flags everywhere! The options are endless! You can do different sizes! There’s also often ways to pick “sizes” in your printer, too, so you can do “mini flags”! (Stickers anyone?) Love, love, love it! Crafting does not always need to require scissors!

Make a Flag (with a Disabled Crafter)

Step 1: Print The Flag!

Make sure you have downloaded the flag (linked above)!

Step 2: Cut Borders (if necessary – omit if dexterity if is an issue, so I print it to size) 0-p;;

Step 3: Attach ‘Flag Pole’

For this part, I used a lone and random bamboo knitting needle that I had gotten when I was first learning to adapt knitting. (That’s a crafty post for another day!)

This needle has been floating around. As your favorite crafty girl and advocate of sustainability (which is a disability issue too), I ask you with love to use something that is also floating around! Use a paint mixing stick, a few popsicle sticks, a ruler, etc! Anything! If you have an issue holding them, I have ideas below. Whatever you use, just use something that you have floating around. Too many crafters buy when our own homes are full of goodies! This is an example of inaccessibility because a lot disabled people are limited budgets, or can’t leave because of the pandemics, so let’s making crafting accessible!

I used double sided tape that I had laying around from mask making because my regular tape is missing. A great question to ask is: where does the tape go when you need it MOST? You could use glue as well. Tape is a great option is because it’s low dexterity and doesn’t require much work!

This is a photo the SBY Disability Pride flag; the flag is described above. It's a close up photo, the wooden knitting needle is shown. It's resting on a table
Image ID: this is a photo the SBY Disability Pride flag; the flag is described above. It’s a close up photo, the wooden knitting needle is shown. It’s resting on a table.

Step 5: How to Hold Your Flag? Ideas for Wheelchair Users or Those With Mobility Aids:

a hair clip is holding the flag pole in place on the electric wheelchair
Image ID: a hair clip is holding the flag pole in place on the electric wheelchair

Make your own DIY flag pole holder by using a hair clip as seen above! I have a lot of hair (thanks Papino) — and always use my wheelchair handles as a good place to store a clip because hair in your eyes isn’t good for general purposes. It also makes for a great DIY flag pole holder! Just slip your stick in there! It works best for thinner sticks like knitting needles for example. This would work well on walkers too!

Other Ways to Show Off Your Flag

You can hole punch your flag – if you are feeling more excited about it! Let it hang on your house! Let it hang in your window (with tape)! Hang it on your doors! Whatever you do, just make sure that people know that it’s #SBYDisabilityPrideMonth!

If you make this craft, please make sure to tag me!

To finish off this post, please make sure to my Instagram for a photo of me with my flag! I can’t wait to share my flag with you all! What an amazing thing to be apart!

Love,

Dom

it’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there's lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a "lightning bolt" band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.
Image ID: it’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there’s lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a “lightning bolt” band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.

July is Disability Pride Month in Salisbury MD!

At the top of the letter is a seal that reads, “The Seal of the City of Salisbury, Maryland 1732.” The imagery in the middle is a tree, a sailboat, and landscape general city imageries depicting the city.

Proclamation

WHEREAS, 
July is Disability Pride Month — it coincides with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and offers an opportunity to celebrate and strengthen the pride, power, and unity of people with disabilities, their families and allies;  and

WHEREAS,
“Disability Pride” has been defined as accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness, seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity; and

WHERAS,
this annual observance is used to promote visibility and mainstream awareness of the positive pride felt by people with disabilities— pride that comes from celebrating their heritage, disability culture, and the unique experiences they as people with differing abilities lend and contribute to society; and

WHEREAS,

President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990 to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities by establishing a clear and comprehensive  national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and since  signed into law it has expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers, changing perceptions, and increasing full participation into community; and 

WHEREAS, 
people with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority within the population, representing all abilities, ages, reaches, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds, and

WHERAS 
the City of Salisbury works with its own Disability Advisory Committee which was established on October 1, 1990  to ensure that those with disabilities have an equitable opportunity to participate in, benefit from, and relish the opportunities their Community provides as the Committee assists and understanding the attributes of the attributes of people with disabilities; and

WHERAS, 
the City of Salisbury celebrates and and recognizes the 30th Anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the progress that has been made since 1990 by reaffirming the principles of equality and inclusion, and recommitting City effort efforts to reach full ADA compliance; 

NOW THEREFORE, I, Julia Glanz, City Administrator of the City of Salisbury, do hereby proclaim July 2020 as

“DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH”

in our City and invite everyone to learn more about the significance of this celebration of those who are differently-abled, and to advocate for a more inclusive and accessible world for all.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I hereunto set my hand and the seal of the City of Salisbury this 13th day of July, 2020

Image of the seal of Salisbury at the bottom with a signature of the City Administrator Julia's at the bottom
Image Description: this is the Proclamation of Salisbury’s Disability Pride Day. Due to the length, I have added this caption to the Alt text box. Please click that for the caption. I have a full transcription available if needed.

July is officially DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH in Salisbury, MD. Can I say that with anymore excitement? I don’t think so.

Major cities like Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago all recognize this with Parades and great celebrations! Now the city (where I call home) has decided to honor Disability Pride Month. This is a very personal and celebratory thing for me.

This is a big thing for so many disabled people who often hear the world disability and consider it to be a bad thing.It’s no great secret if you’re reading this that I use a wheelchair.


If you told the younger me that I would see Disability Pride, I would stare at you blankly. I could never grasp the concept of celebrating my wheelchair. I wasn’t proud of being disabled. I was beyond embarrassed by the pink wheelchair that has become centralized to my advocacy; almost to my outward identity.


I remember thinking that I could never imagine being proud of my disability because so much of the world had always told me that it was something to carry with shame. It’s difficult to put into words the progression that I have made. It started slowly, just like a seedling. One day this month, I’ll share more on that journey. Today, I want to focus on this specifically.


I want to put into words what it means to see the city I live in to make strides to make the progression to acknowledging me, my fellow disabled people, and all disabled people. It means something to have a seat and a table. My voice counts so does yours.

When people Google “Disability Pride Month” – they’ll now see Salisbury, MD. Seriously. Isn’t that incredible? We often joke about the Eastern Shore of Maryland and its archaism, but I’m proud of so many things that happen in Salisbury.


This is one of them.


It matters when your city is doing things to improve the lives of disabled people. They’re working towards the betterment of disabled people locally.

Disability is visible, invisible, and can represent people who are on the neurodiversity spectrum (Autism for example). Disability is a broad spectrum to display an entire representation of people. It’s diverse, just like the people themselves. No matter what, we must fight on for all disabled people.

Especially for those who can’t always advocate for themselves or are not in positions to do so. This is one step though that is huge. It means so much. I can’t say enough, but to simply say:


THANK YOU, Salisbury Maryland!


On behalf of this Salisbury girl,


Now go celebrate Disability Pride Month!


Even if we can’t celebrate here with festivals: go take a photo of your smiling face, snap a photo of you with the Disability Pride flag (yes – it exists), or go celebrate in your favorite adaptable way! No matter what you do, I promise you that this girl right here will be celebrating Disability Pride Month all month long! I’ll still be talking about Salisbury. I also want to talk about ways that you can “celebrate” with me.

With love,

Dom

My Disabled Body is Worthy of LOVE

It’s a crystal ball that’s purple with stars. On the crystal ball that has text that reads, “I SEE a disabled body worthy of LOVE.” The background is pink with stars on the back. At the bottom of the photo is www.thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com
Image Description: it’s a crystal ball that’s purple with stars. On the crystal ball that has text that reads, “I SEE a disabled body worthy of LOVE.” The background is pink with stars on the back. At the bottom of the photo is http://www.thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

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

Life would be pretty cool if we all had crystal balls with the answers. Today, I actually consulted a “joke” crystal ball. I felt relieved when it gave me an answer. That prompted a thought about myself and the present. I was lost in thought. I looked at myself and how I don’t hate my reflection. There’s a lot of contentment in who I am. There’s a sense of liking my skin, the way I am.

I wish I had a crystal ball when I spent multiple years of my life telling myself that I was not worthy of love. I wish I had a crystal ball when I thought a man being flirting was a cruel joke, almost like a pity. I wish I had a crystal when I was being cruel to myself as a way to deal with ableist beauty standards. 

Basically, I wish I would’ve asked the crystal ball if I was worthy of desiring someone romantically and being desired. Was it normal to desire someone – even if I felt that I couldn’t have that because I wasn’t “normal”? Even if people said I wasn’t allowed to have those connections or my body wasn’t worthy of those desires?

Mostly, I regret that I could not see that my disabled body was worthy of love in any form – including self love. It was immensely hard to see value in my disabled body. I regret that it took me until me until my 20s to see something beautiful about the weird curves of my spine, the way that my leg calves are big from NMD, and the way that my arms are atrophying. I wish I saw a lot of things differently.

I was very adverse to the idea that I was lovable. I seriously could not fathom that this body was desirable. It was difficult for me to see myself as desirable. Finally, I realized that so much of what I felt about myself came from things rooted in ableism and self-hatred. Things rooted in toxicity. 

It was hard to get here. I did though. You are desirable, too, even if you feel unattractive. You are worthy of desires in any sense and especially romantic. You can want people. You can want dreams. You can even find yourself desirable.

Disabled women can want love. They deserve love. They are lovable.

I see a body worthy of LOVE. Now go and look into the ball and ask yourself if you’re beautiful. Wait. Don’t bother. I already know the answer is YES.

I’m Why You Should Care About Disability Pride 2020

TGITPW logo, woman in pink wheelchair, posed with legs crossed and reads “The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” 

Underneath it on image to the left has a large quotient mark then reads, “Disability Pride Month happens once a year. Except my disability is something I live with year round. I challenge you to learn this July. Accessibility starts with YOU and listening! Dominique, The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” To the right is a teal background. Dominique is posed in her pink power chair, her face is covered by her iPhone, she’s wearing a hippy floral headband, a pink sweatshirt and cotton shorts
Image Description: TGITPW logo, woman in pink wheelchair, posed with legs crossed and reads “The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” Text on image to the left has a large quotient mark then reads, “Disability Pride Month happens once a year. Except my disability is something I live with year round. I challenge you to learn this July. Accessibility starts with YOU and listening! Dominique, The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” To the right is a teal background. Dominique is posed in her pink power chair, her face is covered by her iPhone, she’s wearing a hippy floral headband, a pink sweatshirt and cotton shorts.

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

Last night my dear friend and I were discussing apathy. I won’t go on about it (because I totally can), but it got me thinking. Sometimes people are apathetic because they’re not always exposed to why they should care. Apathy isn’t always a lack of caring per-say, but sometimes it’s just because people aren’t aware of how issues are affecting the world. When we talk about educating and the act of educating others, we don’t always realize that sometimes people don’t realize that their lack of exposure to issues is hurtful to people. It’s hurting a collective of people.

Sometimes apathy is because people don’t realize that we (the marginalized) need them to do something, too. I’m disabled and I advocate, but it’s a really beautiful feeling when able-bodied people do their fair share of remembering me. 

I have people tell me, “I forget you’re in a chair!” I have people tell me, “You don’t strike me as a person with a disability.” I’m not sure what I should be striking people with. Do you think that people except me to strike them with bathroom grab bars potentially? 

Sometimes apathy is forgetting that things matter because it affects people we love— or even that it affects people at all. That’s how it affects you, even if you’re not the person with a disability. Yes –even if you’re able-bodied and don’t experience life with any form of a disability. People with disabilities are people you love. They’re the people in your communities. They are people with feelings, thoughts, and are living lives. You know disabled people. They’re making art, they’re making love, and they’re making waves.

Maybe I am that one person with a disability you know. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking of another name. Maybe you are the mother, father, or sibling of someone with one. Maybe you’re not disabled and you’re reading this in hopes of trying to understand where your place is in becoming more aware and conscious. Either way, I assure you that disability affects all of us and we have to raise our voices

I’m not the only person with a disability in the United States — even if I am sometimes the only person that many meet with a disability or who uses a mobility aid like a wheelchair. Believe it or not, there’s 61 million people in the United States with a disability. [x

SIXTY ONE MILLION PEOPLE RESIDE IN THE UNITED STATE WITH DISABILITIES! That’s people like me who use wheelchairs, those who have visual disabilities, hearing disabilities, and so many more. Something we also rarely talk about is that anyone at any age can become disabled. I was able-bodied and suddenly I was not. Disabled people represent multiple, races, sexualities and religions. 

I am Dominique. I am a disabled woman. I live on the Eastern Shore. I have a neuromuscular disease. I ask you to learn from me, but also learn from my community. When we pause, we realize that things can get better. We can do better. I know we can.

Disability Pride Month happens once a year. Except my disability is something I live with year round. I challenge you to learn this July with me. Accessibility starts with YOU and listening!

Think about that man you saw in the handicapped parking spot. He could have an invisible disability. Think about lack access in your local city. Think about how out of the few disabled characters on television, they’re only played by a mere percent of 2% disabled actors/actresses vs. able-bodied actors/actresses portraying disabilities. [x] This is reality for me and others.

Let’s lean in and listen this month.

Let’s remember all the faces of Disability Pride for this July 2020. 

Inaccessibility

Inaccessibility is not just physical barriers. It’s emotional barriers too of living your life as a person with a disability. 

The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair
“Inaccessibility” (The background is a dark teal)

The text looks like the sea
Image Description: Inaccessibility is not just physical barriers. It’s emotional barriers too of living your life as a person with a disability.
The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair“Inaccessibility” (The background is a dark teal, the text looks like the sea)

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


When you’re disabled, you think about inaccessibility. A lot. If your disability requires a mobility aid (like mine does – for example), your life is dependent on accessibility to live. Disabled people are continually reminded that this world was not designed for their needs. 

If you want a reminder that it was not designed for us, take a look around at in your  current city’s ramps and critically look at their designs. Majority of them are not accessible for most wheelchair users. Or walk around and see how many buildings actually have ramps or disabled access. You’d be surprised how many times that a building doesn’t need to have a ramp.

Except ramps are just what most people equate to accessibility. Not all disabilities require ramps. Not all disabilities require mobility aids either.

Day to-day, I live with reminders that this world is lacking basic access for disabled people to live their lives. Some days, I get angry because it’s not just affecting me. It’s having an effect on all disabled people. Occasionally, I get sad, too, even if I don’t like acknowledging that. It’s a mixture of so many emotions. Truthfully, I try to separate myself from the flux of emotional stressors. Except in all honesty, I can’t separate myself on how inaccessibility affects my emotional and physical life. 

We don’t talk enough about inaccessibility. We don’t talk about the serious impacts and effects that inaccessibility has on us. 

 I’m not talking about the kind of inaccessibility that the able-bodied community may imagine such as needing more handicapped parking or lack of ramps. While those issues do matter (and should matter): these are just basic facets of our existence. I’m talking about the fact that ramps are usually too high to push up, wheelchair vans cost too much, and PCA (personal care assistant) services are often cut or not covered by insurance.

I have missed major moments of the lives of people who I love because I haven’t been able to get into the venue. It means that I have to tell friends that I can’t go to that fun place with them. That place (which does seem cool) is not accessible. I can tell you, however, that it does not feel very cool to say that or miss out on the event. This is what I what I think of when I think of inaccessibility. 

Inaccessibility is not just physical barriers. It’s emotional barriers too of living your life as a person with a disability.

It’s hoping that you don’t pee yourself because the restaurant’s handicapped stall is not functioning, so you start counting. It’s crying because you missed another family event. It’s emotionally draining. It’s battling humiliation or rage. It even means that someone has even told me outright, “I think you are, like, really nice, but I don’t think that we should hangout since you use a chair. I don’t know how to handle all of it, you know?” – directly quoting my journal entry 

The positive was that this person immediately let me know that she was less than stellar. I was hurt because she found the idea of cancelling plans to be easier than working out plans that were accessible. The idea of staying away from a disabled person was easier than finding ways to make my life as a disabled person easier.

Able-bodied people have no idea what disabled people go through to live their lives in a functional way. Disabled people have so much responsibility on their weary shoulders. Imagine if able-bodied people had to work out everything including bathroom trips — even for a day? This is the life of a person with a disability. We have no choice, but to make sure our lives are accessible. Everything is always planned out. I don’t go to a doctor’s office without calling to ask if they’re wheelchair accessible.  

I plan everything out. I don’t have a choice.  

There is a running joke about disabled people’s bathroom breaks too. We’re calculated people. In a world like this, we have to find a way to make it accessible to us because the world won’t. We make access where this isn’t any— and that’s really not okay. 

I do not have the choice of cancelling on my disability — like that girl did to our hangout plans last-minute — even if it would be nice on the days where it rains. I can’t cancel on it when I’m unsure if I can handle another medical procedure. I cannot take a break from my illness, my wheelchair or any of the things about being disabled that are not fun. I can’t take a break, even when I’m tired. And really tired of the fear of COVID-19. I can’t take a break because this is my life. 

I sometimes wonder what it would feel to wake up, get dressed, and not plan out my day with precision. Wouldn’t it be lovely to go somewhere without messaging or calling the venue first to see if they’re wheelchair accessible? Or to not be nervous that the person didn’t relay poor information? That has happened more than once. I know that it will happen again.

This world, as I said, is always thinking with able-bodied people in mind. The homes, store-fronts, and even public buildings serve us forget that disabled people have lives too. We want to live freely too. 

When you live in a world that is not accessible to you: it becomes normals in aspects to experience exclusion. To me, that’s what inaccessibility feels like. It’s being excluded and continually reminders that this world is excluding you from experiencing it.

That is the life of inaccessibility.

July is Disability Pride Month!

Logo for The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair: text reads The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair, woman is posed, legs crossed, arms crossed and the wheelchair is pink

July is Disability Pride Month!

Black wheelchair, arms on wheels and the wheels is yellow

I’m committed to amplifying the voices of our community every day as well as sharing stories of my own including real life stories such as the accessibility in my own local community! Do you pledge to help me? Let’s make Disability Pride 2020 be memorable even during COVID-19!
Image Description: Logo for The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair: text reads The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair, woman is posed, legs crossed, arms crossed and the wheelchair is pink Text reads, “ July is Disability Pride Month!” Image of black wheelchair, arms on wheels and the wheels is yellow. Text reads, “I’m committed to amplifying the voices of our community every day as well as sharing stories of my own including real life stories such as the accessibility in my own local community! Do you pledge to help me? Let’s make Disability Pride 2020 be memorable even during COVID-19!“

July is Disability Pride Month! That’s right! PRIDE MONTH! 30 days of Disability Pride!

Just like the image says, I’m going to be using the platform here to be taking advantage of how we can celebrate inclusion. It’s also so important to encourage and promote accessibility. I’m beyond excited to show off the incredible diversity in our disabled community. The disabled community is so incredible. I‘m so happy to be apart of this truly amazing community of advocates.

I’m going to be using my platform this month to elevate and amplify the disabled community, but also taking advantage of educating during this time. I have been blessed over the years (and especially the past few weeks) to be educated by many loved ones and friends with wisdom and guidance on social issues. I am happy to guide in the same way.

While cities like New York and Philadelphia have parades to celebrate Disability Pride, they were cancelled (understandably) and either moved to virtual celebrations or are focused their energy to host bigger celebrations next year. I may not have a city where Disability Parades have happened (maybe some time soon!), I do have a platform. Through that platform, I can use it to educate as I mentioned. This is something that I’m choosing to consciously to do as a way to foster something that may help. Education by my loved ones made a huge impact in my life.

Let’s also remember during Disability Pride time that disabled people encompass minorities, immigrants, multiple sexualities/identities, etc. As we navigate 2020, it’s imperative to remember that Black disabled people (especially women/womnx) are apart of this equation. One of my dear friends with a progressive, debilitating and rare disease brought up recently about a racist experience that she experienced at the hospital. The system is already setup to disavow disabled people, even when they’re not Black.

As we go into Disability Pride Month, I want to talk so proudly about all of the things that I love and hate about being a person with a disability. I want to talk rawly about the privileges I will never have because I am a woman with a disability. In that same light, I must acknowledge my skin is not black like my friend and I never experienced anything like her. We have to talk simple here because sometimes people don’t get it. I want to talk about the way I wish I could attend a parade because I am so lonely some days. I want to be honest, raw, and make people proud because I am proud of who I am. And who I am is a person with a disability. These are all thoughts I have thought in relation to “Disability Pride” and they are important. Inclusion, diversity, and accessibility are important. Disability refers to both physical and non-physical disabilities.

It means people like me, but also hearing disabilities, visual, hearing and developmental disabilities too. Disabled people can have invisible disabilities where their disability and or chronic illness makes them appear able-bodied. The same way you may not know a person is low-vision. Bottom line: disabled people are diverse and that needs to be apart of our Disability Pride 2020. Diversity is rad.

With all that I said,

Happy Disability Pride Month, friends!

P.S. This is a new exciting chapter of my life and I’m very excited this aligned with July. As many of my friends know, I’ve revamped The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair to be completely accessible to all disabilities including screen readers and low-vision. Old posts will start “popping up” as the images get Photo IDed. Be patient with me, friends. I had surgery recently and I’m still moving slow. Slowly, but surely!!!

Disability Pride Month is an exciting thing in itself, despite many celebrations being cancelled. But hey – who knows? I have some ideas of my own!! Wait and see! 😉

Finding Self Love as a Disabled 20 Something Woman

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Self love is something that you read about incessantly if you are addicted to Pinterest like me. Come on, I am not the only one. Or am I? It’s also become more popular — too — on Instagram.  Self love is something that has been as foreign to me as understanding people who are naturally morning risers. It has never came naturally to look at my body and say, “I love this body. I love this reflection of myself. I love this image of myself. I love this disabled body of mine!” Yeah, it’s complicated. It doesn’t help that women (able-bodied) are already scrutinized and can’t conform to beauty standards. Try being a disabled women. It suddenly feels like you can’t conform to something that feels impossible.

I have never been able to recite the words above as I’ve said. Why is it you may ask? I never felt it in my bones. I’m naturally a dead honest. And as much as I love the reflection of others, I have always battled so much of my own.

As someone who is now what is considered a young 20 something (and is definitely a not a hip one): I wanted to change. I want to look at selfies of myself and say, “I love this image of myself.” The real question is: how do you do that? These things below are things that I have been saying to myself to love myself, to treat myself better, and mostly to fall in love with myself in ways that don’t lead to false positivity or driving myself to levels of false esteem that I can’t reach.

This is how I have been going about my little self love journey by a few of these little numbering ‘check points’ below:

1. Your body is always going to be different. Embrace your different. Love your different. That is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. Your body has survived so much. You are a survivor. How many bodies have survived what yours has… and have still have gone on? When I was growing up in my chair, I wanted to be able bodied and hated my body. I couldn’t see that anyone would want this body. Now that I’m in my 20s, I still struggle with my thoughts. Since I’ve started this journey: I see myself as a disabled woman who loves herself including the many facets of her disease. It’s liberating.

2. Stop being ashamed of the hidden parts (aka the ‘ugly parts’ to you) of your disease/disability. There are many facets of many people’s lives that are not glamorous too. How many people hide themselves or parts of their lives? Be who you are and don’t be ashamed. Your disease is out of your hands. If someone thinks a symptom is ugly, disgusting, etc. than that part is not worthy of your time. Point blank. The next time

3. If you name something that you hate about yourself: you must name 10 things you love about yourself to combat that behavior. This is easy, right? You probably hate your stomach if you’re a quadriplegic or someone with immense core weakness (like me) or maybe you hate the fact that your legs are atrophied. It’s easy as a woman who is abled bodied to name 10 things in general. However, it’s hard to name 10 things. Do it. Name those 10 things. It can be internal or external. However, really focus on them. Make yourself look in the mirror. It will help you see yourself in the way that another person does. Fall in love with yourself!

4. Find something that makes you feel sexy. Yes — sexy! I seriously lost that sexy feeling. (I sang that as I typed it.) It was something that I enjoyed feeling when I was young and more free — despite my disability when I was ambulatory. I started incorporating things that made me feel like I was again. That means testing out makeup, buying some good bras, and keep on with my skin. It is not for anyone,  but for me. It’s a good feeling. Try it out. I struggled a lot with this. It wasn’t necessarily my chair, but my progression. Treating yourself to pretty things helps your brain.

5. It’s okay to feel nothing sometimes about your body. Loving yourself is hard. We do not always need to feel positive. Just feel accepting of your body and move on. If someone told me this years and years ago, I would’ve been absolutely mind blown. This has been a hard concept for me. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally here for body positivity. I think it’s amazing — especially when it relates to disabled women, women of color, etc. However, body positivity is hard, too. It’s hard to always feel positive especially with bodies that don’t function. Sometimes it’s okay to just say, “I accept my body. I love you, but today I don’t like you. I will treat you right, but eh.” This has been helpful for me. It’s just a medium ground for me. No strong feelings of hatred and no wild feelings of love. It’s helped me to see myself as more than a body as well.

I cannot say that I have everything figured out. Does anyone ever have it all? I am continually evolving in this journey of loving my body and loving myself. I feel like I’ve done a great job lately. I’m proud to say that I can look in a mirror lately and not feel angry or upset. I often feel good when I look in a mirror. I think I would’ve made 16 year old feel proud. I hope I can make 16 year old you (if you’re reading this) find some inspiration if you’re battling the thoughts that I was.

Your body is perfect even when you think it’s not. Your wheelchair is beautiful even when you think it’s not. Your speech is lovely even when it’s not. All of you is absolutely beautiful in so many ways regardless of what the media wants you to believe.

I hope you can find inspiration here to love yourself better.

What’s been your number one tip in finding self love as a disabled woman? Drop it below!

love,

dee