A friend of mine said, only a few days ago, “Tbh, I’m getting really tired of how consistently disabled people – 20% of Americans, btw – are overlooked & forgotten in convos around inclusion/diversity/marginalized communities.”
I could be simple, and say, “I know.” And nod my head a lot. And let it go. But, that’s not me. That’s not who I am. Because, to be honest, I know why things are this way. I know why people behave this way. Of course, being autistic, I have fits trying to put what I know into words, and explain it so others can even vaguely understand what I’ve said.
And, like a lot of us autistic people, I don’t take defeat lightly, so I keep trying. And trying. And trying. The results is this little note.
There are several clues I can give others so they may begin to understand what is in my brain cells, and how I see this particular behavior pattern happening. I’ll try to number them, and make a list of them.
1. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Now, don’t take this literally. We all know you can think about things that you can’t physically see. That’s not what this really means, and everybody knows it. This means, if you don’t have to live with it, you don’t think about it. It becomes invisible to you.
Look at the bathrooms in your house. If someone was bound to a wheelchair, would they be able to use the toilet? Or the shower? Or the sink? If you have upstairs and downstairs bathrooms, would they be able to even get to the one(s) upstairs?
Look at your SUV/Truck/Car. Can someone who can’t walk get into, and out of, your vehicle? Can the open the door? Can the climb into the seat? Can they reach the ignition, the steering wheel, the gas and brake pedals?
How about where you work? Can someone with a cane, who can’t always lift their feet very well, and has balance problems, function in your work environment? Can they reach everything at the workstation, the computer, the keyboard, the monitor, the desk lighting? Can they use the desk drawers, if there are any? Can they even use the chair?
“Out of sight, out of mind.” You don’t see it. It’s not something you think about, because it doesn’t exist in your daily life? But, what about that person who needs to use a cane to walk? That person who has to use a walker? The one who is unable to walk? Do they think about it? Yes. Because, for them, it’s something they encounter endlessly. Every hour of every day. Forever. They are faced with being unable to do something everyone else takes for granted.
And none of us notice. Because. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
2. The mono-culture. I once told someone that to me, everyone was the same. Everyone was alike. She had a fit,, and informed me how different everyone was. Because. She was, and probably is, part of the mono-culture. Oh, I know all the arguments. “I have blue hair with black highlights. I’m not like them.” Or perhaps, “I drive a Tesla, instead of a Ford F-350 dualie pickup truck. I’m not like them.” Or even, “I don’t even own a car. I’m not like them.”
I could rattle off thousands of such trivialities. They are details. Decorations on the cake, if you will. A Chevy Camaro is a Chevy Camaro, even if it’s got pitch black trim, and screaming purple paint, and chrome side pipes. It’s still a Camaro.
A cake is still a cake. Devils Food, Chocolate, Butter Cream, Lemon. I don’t care. It’s all cake. A taco is a taco. A burrito is a burrito. Chicken is chicken. So, you eat it raw. It’s still chicken. So, you go out on the farm, grab the chicken, lop off its head, pull off the feathers, and chow down right there. It’s still chicken. Or maybe you go to Kentucky Fried Chicken, and have chicken tenders. It’s still chicken.
That’s the problem with a mono-culture. Those living in it can’t even see it. To them it doesn’t exist. Oh, look. There’s reason #1 again. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
3. Dual Standards. This is exactly what it says it is. And every last person I know has dual standards. Some more than others. But we all have them. I have them. You have them. Your 13 year old child has them.
“The law is the law!” Well. Of course. Except when you’re driving. Because. That 45 mile per hour speed limit is, well. Stupid. Especially on that road.
“The law is the law!” Unless it’s you who got the ticket for driving while intoxicated. In that case, it’s time to get a lawyer, and go to court, and see if you can straighten out the police and the courts.
“The law is the law!” Except when you can’t find a place to park, so you park in the handicapped parking space, and tell yourself, “I’ll only be a minute. And besides. There’s no one here that needs it anyway.”
“The law is the law!” Except in your residential neighborhood, where you can drive however you want, and even hit 40 or 50 on the roads. But may God help any other person you see driving that way in your neighborhood.
There’s that “Out of sight, out of mind” thing again. Everyone is this way. So, it’s OK. We don’t even notice when we do these things. There’s that mono-culture thing again. Everyone else does the same thing, so it’s not wrong.
I could continue this for ages. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll stop at these three simple concepts. Do you wish to understand why 20% of those in the USA are forgotten, and overlooked? Read these three concepts again. Then, look for them in your daily existence.
I’ll be honest. I don’t expect you to notice them. They are woven into our existence. They are like breathing. We don’t notice breathing. We don’t notice these things happening around us, all the time.
It’s how our macro-organism called “US Society” works. Why change it? “It’s not a problem for me.”
Which pretty much sums up everything, doesn’t it.