I have said this before and I will say it again. Self-care isn't just something we can buy at the drugstore. While taking a long hot bath can be a form of self-care focusing only on outward expressions of self-care neglects the parts of our being that require internal care - such as our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Learning to acknowledge the places we have privileges and unpack the biases we hold benefits everyone and affirms to us that our lives are worthy ones. Darker skinned Non-Black people benefit from unpacking their anti-Blackness. Men benefit from feminism as it frees them up from rigid, oppressive (and often dehumanizing) expressions of masculinity and allows them to be whole humans. In the same way able-bodied people benefit from disability justice. What is interesting about disability justice is while one cannot just spontaneously become Black or Indigenous, or start spontaneous facing oppressive reproductive laws - you can spontaneous become disabled. Experience a fall off a roof, a car accident, a work injury and suddenly you may find you are part of a violently marginalized group - not to mention we are all aging into disability. Disability justice is something we should all be thinking about because it affirms for us the inherent worthiness of our lives. Here are 5 ways unpacking your ableism is life affirming self care:
Disability justice affirms our personhood
Disability justice affirms inherent personhood, and is rooted in a belief that there is a place for everyone within the larger community.
When we focus on fixing or healing disability it often leads to discrimination and exclusion because the fundamental idea is that the "problem" will go away. The reality is many disabilities cannot go away. Unpacking ableism affirms that ALL people belong in our society regardless of their health, condition, disease, disorder, or mobility.
Disability justice affirms values of tolerance.
Tolerance is the act of being patient, understanding, and accepting of anything different or difficult - especially things we cannot control. Disability justice helps us cultivate the ability and willingness to endure something we wouldn't normally choose for ourselves.
Building a mentality of tolerance can help us stay open hearted as we navigate challenging experiences, conflicts, and people who exist in ways we are unfamiliar with.
Disability justice affirms our inter-connectedness.
You can't eat without the support of bees, sun, and farmers. You depend on others to build roads, infrastructure, and homes. You can't even breathe without the support of plant life. Able bodied people depend on others.
Disability justice acknowledges that our supports may be different but our need for community support remains the same. Disability justice affirms a need for community care and acknowledges our interdependence on each other.
Disability justice affirms change is inherent to being.
You do not look the same as you did as a child - at one point your teeth even fell out. Your body is continually changing. There is no state of "normal". Every day you are rebirthed into a new version of yourself with new blood cells, new hairs. Sometimes even a new pimple or a new ache or pain. Because of this constant changing you are not guaranteed health. In fact, if you are in a body there is pretty much a guarantee that at some point in your life you will experience illness or injury that is either temporarily, chronically, or permanently debilitating.
At some point your body will grow tired. You are aging into disability. Building access into our society ensures there is a place for you even as your body changes and ages.
Disability justice affirms sustainability.
Burn out is real! A fire can only burn so long without adding fuel to burn. You too have a capacity and limitations.
Disability justice requires that we learn to pace ourselves not only individually but collectively in order to be sustained long-term. Our bodies provide guidance which moves us away from reactiveness and urgency and into slow, deep, transformative movements toward liberation.