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I spend my time like anyone else, balanced between the banal but necessary (work, drive time, keeping up with the news so the apocalypse doesn’t take me by surprise), the personally amusing but mostly useless (I think we can put Pokemon Go, playing with our new puppy and feeding squirrels at my workplace into this category) and the things that feed my soul and hopefully move the world ever so incrementally towards improvement.

When my time is best spent, it is in the service of advocating, mostly through my writing and speaking, for the disability community. That community doesn’t necessarily need me to do so, but my own tiny little piece of it does. I advocate for Schuyler because she has a powerful voice and the absolute right to self-expression and agency, and I can empower her to use them and to self-advocate in an equitable way. I suppose I advocate for the larger disability community for the same reason. Those of us parents and family who engage in that level of advocacy do so from a unique position, somewhere between that of the ally and the disabled. We live our lives experiencing disability from a spot only slightly removed, with a special and very hard-earned place in that complicated community. We’ll never stop, even as we continue to learn and improve in our work.

I’m not sure what any of us should be called; I’m not sure there’s a perfect term. But when I hear people in the midst of public discourse refer insultingly and dismissively to “social justice warriors”, I don’t think “what a wicked insult”. My first response is “oh, that’s badass. THAT’S what we should be called.”

Social justice warrior. SJW, to use the not-quite-clever abbreviation. Why would that ever be an insult with any real bite? To those who use that term in a derogatory way, I suspect it sounds funny because they’ve never lived a life where societal injustice has ever left a mark on them or anyone they particularly care about. Do you occupy a world of privilege without ever actually looking outward with empathy or compassion? Then I suppose the idea of people who fight for the dignity and equity of vulnerable populations might seem silly to you. I’ll give you that.

To the rest of us, working towards a just and fair society doesn’t necessarily feel like warrior work, but it does feel like work. We’re trying to move a very large stone, and you’re sitting on it. And the very nature of disability means that our our work is almost always deeply intersectional. We traffic in social justice across the lines, and we do it not epically but as a matter of daily life. We don’t think it’s especially heroic, but we also understand that it’s not a joke, either.

So if you’re the kind of garbage human who thinks that fighting for vulnerable citizens is something to be made fun of, you should at least be aware of our reaction when you call us SJWs. We understand who you are immediately. We’ve been fighting you all our lives, or at least for as long as we’ve been connected with those whom you find so laughable and, we know all too well, entirely disposable.

Social justice warriors? You’re goddamn right.

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  1. Dana
    July 17, 2017 |
  2. July 17, 2017 |