By Sara M. Acevedo October 23, 2017
When it comes to disability justice issues, my experience is that people tend to hide away from them, either because of lack of exposure, intolerance, fear, or perhaps self-identification and internalized shame. To foster understanding and dialogue around these issues, my blog series is structured around the Q&A format. The questions and answers featured in this and future entries are drawn from my everyday life experiences and interactions with various constituents, both at CIIS and outside the University. In fact, these are actual questions people have posed to me throughout the years.
Question: Do disabled people want to be cured?
Answer: Contrary to accepted social beliefs, disability is an integral part of the human experience. Many disability scholars and activists have argued for the normalization of the disability experience based on the fact that we can all acquire disability at any given point in our lives.
This has been especially resonant among disabled people who acquire disability at some point in their lives due to lack of access to health care, illness, police brutality, war, disease, accidents, or medical malpractice.
Many others argue that to base disability acceptance on social processes of normalization can be harmful to the consolidation of shared disability identities beyond the confines of what some disability studies scholars call
This view is resonant among many people born with congenital disabilities. In fact, the potential desire to change or ‘cure' their bodies is likely to arise from the pressure of societal expectations of ‘normalcy' as well as stigma, abuse, and systemic oppression.
Many politicized disability communities, however, argue that these social messages do not necessarily reflect how they experience their own embodied identities or the concept they have of a ‘shared struggle', the right to fully participate in all aspects of social life and to lead fulfilling and dignified lives.
Sara M. Acevedo (Neurowitch) is an autistic mestiza, educator, and disability justice advocate born and raised in Colombia. Her background is in disability studies and activist anthropology. Sara is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology and Social Change at CIIS and adjunct faculty in the Bachelor of Arts Completion program.