Guest Post: Dear Able-Bodied People by Marissa Meleske

Dear Able-Bodied People,

I don’t hate you, envy you, nor do I think I’m better or worse than you. I am your equal. You are my ally, not my enemy. I don’t expect sympathy from you, nor praise. I know you may not understand much about my journey. I welcome your questions and am mindful you may not know how to ask.

I believe people are generally good. Discrimination and bad encounters happen, but I know that happens less times than not and I would never paint all people with that broad brush. I judge on an individual basis. There are times I’d like to be independent but times I will ask for help or accept your offered help. I will never seek to alienate or shame you.

We are so busy attacking and alienating those who we also want to help us. The #abledsareidiots hashtag and getting so mad at people for using the wrong terminology has to stop. I’d rather no terminology at all, I’m done with labels, but can’t expect abled bodied people to know that or read my mind. Plus, it’s the way you say it that matters too. Not everyone is out to offend us or be derogatory. Two different people can use the same terminology, one can seem kind and one can rub me the wrong way. Both are not the same situation.

We should fight for our rights but fight with people, not against them. Chances are they really don’t know what we need. The ball is in our court to share our stories and respectfully ask for what we see needs to change, not expect people to just know.

I’m sorry to anyone who has ever been mistreated by one of us living with disabilities.

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