In March, you may have seen me post this on social media: Spent a good portion of today thinking about the Dr. Phil episode featuring an interabled couple and more ableist tropes than should be in 2019. It’s irresponsible to present this narrative of disability. People with disabilities aren’t burdens. We’re human. When I posted about Dr. Phil’s ableist views on interabled relationships, I’m sure many of you knew an op-ed would be coming!! Here it is!! And it’s my first for Rooted In Rights — remember my second piece on Ali Stroker’s historic Tony nomination?
I love that my job allows me to be a voice for the disability community. To speak up for a group whose voices and needs are continually overlooked and dismissed. I may only be one voice, but I’ll never stop speaking up and being an advocate for people with disabilities. Always. And when it comes to interabled relationships, this is especially true!
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I write honestly about what it’s like to have a disability and the kinds of care we require…
And here’s something important that Dr. Phil seems to forget: There are different types of “caregiving.” It’s not just about the physical. I may require a lot of personal care from my family, but that doesn’t mean I can’t care for them as well, especially when it comes to emotional caregiving. The episode is a perfect illustration of the sort of ableism people with disabilities encounter on a daily basis. People are surprised when I tell them some of the things people have told me and sometimes, I wonder what’s worse: Their surprise or the fact that I’m not surprised by any of it.
Why are we still buying into the “burden” narrative when it comes to people with disabilities? People with disabilities are not burdens. We’re human. And we deserve to be treated with dignity.
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