Last week, I experienced a freelance writing first: One of my editors at CNN Opinion emailed me to see if I’d be interested in writing about Starbucks’ straw ban. Yes! THIS is why I’ve worked so hard to cultivate my beats as a writer! So honored to advocate for the disability community again!!
My plastic straws op-ed was published last Thursday!!! This marks my 10th one with CNN. Some of the negative responses and ableist comments I’ve received just proved how important this conversation is! It’s disappointing that, again, the disability community was left out of a conversation/decision that directly affects us. As I said in my essay, it’s just another example of our autonomy being taken away.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I emphasize the fact that even straw replacement options pose problems for some people with disabilities…
These types of unilateral decisions simply don’t take into account the needs of those who will be most impacted. Sure, not everyone will need plastic straws, but people with disabilities should be given the option to use them if they need to.
In an email response, Starbucks told me, “We will work with the disability community to ensure we continue to meet their needs going forward.”
And while that’s at least an acknowledgment of the issue, it doesn’t immediately address the difficulty that disabled people have grasping or holding a cup, or even drinking directly from a cup. Take me, for example. My hands are deformed as a result of my disability, and this makes it hard for me to pick up some cups. My neck is also fully fused, which makes using straws ideal, because I can’t bend my neck back to sip from a lid.
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo