More About Disability in the New York Times

Only Bread, Only light

Don’t—and I mean do not ever tell readers of the NY Times “disability” section the essential truth: the disabled don’t exist. Readers of the Times must always believe disablement is a noteworthy matter, perhaps not quite a tragedy (after all the editorial aim is to value inclusiveness) but a “befalling” if you will. Whatever you do never never (and yes, I do mean never) suggest, imply, or declare disability is only possible in societies lacking curiosity and imagination, for if you remove architectural and technical obstacles disablement is scarcely a category of experience. Moreover in a world without stumbling blocks everyone would live and work better. No, it’s far more appealing to share (entirely) well crafted and winning first person stories about the intelligence and stamina of disabled individuals without inquiring as to why disability should have to exist at all and why we prefer to think of disability as a singular story, an outlier’s narrative.

Let me make a disclaimer: four of my friends (true friends) have written altogether winning pieces for this series. I admire them. I love their writing. I do. Yet I can’t overlook a developing problem with the Times version of disability. And let me be straightforward—I’m a memoirist. I wrote a best selling book called Planet of the Blind and I’ve a new book coming out next spring called Have Dog, Will Travel a first person account about traveling with a service dog. And please let me further say I’m no better than anyone else. I mean, let the dude without sin cast the first stone. I’ve made my share of literary mistakes. Yesterday I wrote about some of them on this blog. But the number one thing I aim to achieve in my respective memoirs is to show that disability is a cultural trap. My bodily separateness (as well as yours) simply should not exist. Cursory readers of the NY Times must come to believe disability is like climbing Sisyphus’ mountain. This may be true. But there should be no mountain at all.





Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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