Thursday, February 23, 2017

Op-ed: "Disabled, Shunned, and Silenced in Trump's America"

Writing in the New York Times, Melissa Blake, a journalist with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, says she felt like "I'd just been punched in the gut" when she realized the disabilities section of the White House website had been removed. Not updated. Removed.

Here's the archived website section on disabilities, which commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and recognizes the importance of "ensuring that people with disabilities have the same access to the American Dream as every other citizen," through education, employment, health care, and civil rights.

Realizing that the new administration had chosen to completely eliminate this content, she heard a voice that sometimes makes her question her place in society: "You don't matter." "You're not worth it." "You're not a person."

She writes: "I’m afraid of living in a country that would shun people with disabilities as if they didn’t exist. I’m afraid to live in a country that sends these kinds of messages and think it’s perfectly all right. Because it’s most definitely not all right and never will be.

"If Trump really cared about giving people their power back, it would behoove him to actually sit down with members of the disability community and listen — really listen — to their stories and their concerns and their recommendations for the future.

"My mantra has always been 'I’m a person,' and that has never been truer than right now. Yes, I am a person. I matter. People with disabilities matter. I will never stop fighting for our rights and against bullies. I will never not be a person. I’m taking back my power and I want President Trump to know it."

Read "Disabled, Shunned, and Silenced in Trump's America."

Read the New York Times' weekly column exploring the lives of people with disabilities.
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