I Feel Numb: I Deserve Respect, Dignity and Equality not Discrimination


For the past month I’ve had writer’s block. It’s not unusual for writers to experience this from time to time, myself included. This block, however, is different than anything I’ve ever encountered. It’s numb, almost hollow. When I write, I usually feel energized, passionate and excited with every word but lately, everything feels forced, like pulling teeth and I’m never satisfied with what I have created.

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Alexandra earned her Seattle University Diploma…and the right to equality.

It all started when Donald J. Trump was elected. (Thanks, Donald)

Trump made it pretty clear that his respect for people with disabilities is abysmal early on in the campaign after mocking the movements of a reporter with CP. This feeling was solidified when he appointed Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos to his administration and it is continuously demonstrated by Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

I feel numb because I do not even know where to start. I don’t know how to argue against the atrocities happening every day. I know people who support the Republicans, Trump, his appointees and I feel at a complete loss trying to articulate why their views are so disturbing to me.

I can’t have a dialogue with someone who does not believe that I deserve respect, dignity, and equality.

For me, those three things are the foundation of any debate, any discussion and they are lacking in recent political rhetoric. Discrimination is not new to the disability community, it shapes our experiences and how we perceive the world. Now, however, it is being presented on a widespread and blatant platform-our government.

At the core of their words and sentiments is that people with disabilities do not matter. It is apparent in their lack of concern about lifesaving health care services they plan to rip away. It is evident in the Secretary of Education, who clearly doesn’t have a basic understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and it is outright in the appointment of Jeff Sessions who once characterized children with disabilities as burdens in the classroom during a speech on the Senate floor.

It’s easy to go numb, to fall into the traps of complacency and, admittedly, that is what I have done. While trying to maintain my sanity, I temporarily lost the will to fight which is exactly what they want.

Self-care is important but self-defense is imperative.

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Sarah Marks, a woman with a disability and educator marches for Disability Rights.

So many communities are under attack right now from the Trump administration. We are engaged in a full on war for our rights and while we may take a reprieve here and there, we cannot give up or give in to apathy.

Right now, our politicians in the highest offices are deciding how many rights we should be given and it is time for us to tell them what rights we deserve.

We deserve equal opportunities to education.
We deserve equal and affordable healthcare.
We deserve equal employment accommodations and anti-discriminatory practices.
We deserve equal access to buildings and public organizations.
We deserve to be treated like human beings because that is what we are.
We deserve more than this administration.

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Alexandra Stoffel

Alexandra Stoffel is a communications professional living in Seattle, WA. Paralyzed due to a rare spinal cancer at the age of six, she has been a wheelchair user ever since. Alexandra strives to open up dialogue about the different systems of oppression that affect people with disabilities in an effort to eradicate those injustices.

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