I wish I could tell you what’s in my heart in this political season. I don’t mean the rage-heart or the schadenfreude-heart, those twins of Freud’s Id. I’m thinking of the binding-heart, the one that heals. Wishing this I acknowledge it’s tricky, this heart-speak since it requires a bit of poetry and a lot of self-awareness.
I’m blind. Some see me on the street and think I’m a sad sack for what else is disability but a ticket to an inferior life? The statistics on blindness and unemployment are sobering. In my heart? This political season I want Americans to vote for job expansion, inclusivity, dignified employment—which means true diversity in the jobs of the future.
In the heart—mine—I want black lives and guide dog users and wheelchair drivers and women getting equal pay. I wish away the tacit assumption that difference means incapacity. I don’t want employment specialists looking at me as a flight attendant once did, saying: ”if I was disabled I think I’d kill myself.”
The binding-heart is a sober heart as it understands the disabled and their families have considerable disposable income. Most American colleges and universities don’t get this and continue to treat disability services as a pinched nose mandate they’d rather get rid of. Underfunded accommodation programs in higher education are one of the primary reasons only one in four students with a disability graduates. Schools that do a good job discover the disabled are generous. The binding-heart understands this. Black lives are generous and queer lives; yes this is true. Diversity in employment and education means opening the floodgates of talent and generosity in the twenty-first century.
By now you think I’m bananas.
In this political moment America must get imaginative. Let’s imagine disabilities as expertises. If we’re really going to build new infrastructures, who better than the disabled to explain universal design? The binding-heart is both visionary and inclusive. The binding-heart is pragmatic.
Take a look at “Our Ability” a non-profit in Albany, New York that uses AI technology to create accessible and inclusive technology for the employment of people with disabilities. From their website:
“Our vision is to help people develop more advanced skills in the workplace and to evolve the culture around inclusive hiring by creating a job search interface that will connect opportunities for employers and the disability community.”
Take a look at Syracuse University’s Taishoff Center for inclusive education where they say: “we celebrate disability because it makes our campus stronger, more diverse, and much more interesting; until everyone is included, there is no real inclusion for anyone.”
Yes the binding-heart knows disability is interesting. I wish I’d thought to say that to the flight attendant. On that occasion all I could say was, “I’m not what you suppose.”
Vote for the binding-heart.