Today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Here are my top 5 ways that the disability movement intersects with the civil rights movement and the environmental movement, especially the climate crisis.
1. The Movement
When I began my activist career in the 1970’s we called ourselves The Movement, meaning we were all in one movement. I visited the civil rights museum in Atlanta near the Martin Luther King memorial. There is a clear connection in that museum from the civil rights movement to the the launch of the modern disability movement. I was glad to hear that today’s March on Washington commemoration included many other issues including voting rights, l/g/b/t marriage equality, and even climate crisis. Of course. MLK summed up his work as a creating the Beloved Community, which now means all people and the environment.
2. Creative Maladjustment.
If and when we really have a non-violent revolution that includes the climate crisis, however it looks, it will not look normal. If you are not familiar with MLK talking about Creative Maladjustment for more than a decade, repeatedly, then use your favorite search engine to explore that phrase. The disability movement, particularly the psychiatric survivors movement, is about marginalized people thinking outside the box we call normal. Normal isn’t.
3. From Despair to Delight.
It is a stereotype of those of us with what are called major disabilities that we face despair. Well, I have news for you. All of humanity, 100%, confronts despair. To find delight despite overwhelming odds is a human task. As humanity faces its common threat of environmental catastrophe, then our universal humanity will become more clear. Perhaps we should all turn to our disability leaders for tips such as using mutual peer support to overcome despair and find delight. Here is a photo of my amazing wife Debra and me in our back yard on our new deck. Thank you Debra for welcoming me home and transforming our living space into something more accessible.
4. Bridging to the 1%.
The environmental movement is the common ground, literally, that bridges class differences. We must face economic imbalance for us to have real change. For instance, jobs are very important, but what good are jobs if our world looks like Venus?
Disablism says we are either independent or dependent. As any environmental problem like a hurricane quickly shows, we are actually all interdependent. We are in a way all disabled to some extent or another. So far we have had the luxury to pretend that we are divided into normal and not normal. But the climate crisis shows that we are all, 100%, facing a new normal.
I’d like to know about your own thoughts about the links between today’s celebration of the March on Washington, Disability and the Climate Crisis.