Story by: Maggie Brown, Copy/News Editor
Photo by: Samuel Jobe, staff photographer
Ableism is, by definition, discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. While much of the population is aware of the discrimination against women, people of color, or transgender individuals, ableism is a topic that rarely receives the attention it deserves. It is all around us, from the lack of wheelchair ramps to the blatant disregard for mental disorders by requiring classes such as Speech, which is turning a blind eye to the struggles of students with social anxiety disorders.
The world is full of people who are different, and it is our inability to view them simply as differences and not defects that has caused so many issues in our society. The use of derogatory language is perhaps the most prevalent act of ableism in our society. This trivializes mental disorders and uses them as everyday adjectives, which is horrifying to me.
“I’m like, super OCD about it.”
“My mom is being so bipolar.”
“Don’t be such a retard.”
Words like these are not slurs for us to throw around haphazardly. It is not funny, it is not appropriate, and it is not kind. Taking words that were thrown at people who suffer from Downs syndrome, autism, and all varieties of mental illnesses for years is horrifying to me.
In the elections of 2012, a political commentator named Ann Coulter decided to use the r-word in reference to President Obama, and received this letter from Special Olympian John Franklin Stephens.
The world is a difficult place for people who are different. We have set ideas of what people come with which labels, and that is going to be a contributing factor to the downfall of our society. We are not one thing, we are not caricatures or symbols or anything of the sort. They are not “the disabled.” They just have to go about the world differently than we do.
The least we, the able-bodied majority, can do, is be accommodating.