As the ancient Greeks well knew there are ways to see and ways to not see and they’re all complicated. Yes and they’re worth understanding. I was talking with a black Uber driver who came here from Uganda. Back home she has an advanced degree. In Syracuse she’s an example of the colonialist construction of the underclass. I told her about being blind—all the places I’ve been told I can’t enter because of my dog or the tacit discomfort others experience because of my difference. We talked about intersectionality. Her experience and mine are not the same. But they’re damn close. And we started a fire with our identification papers.
Today I’ve decided to leave Twitter and Facebook. The toxicity is brutal and yes, triggering. I’ve been harassed by multiple folks who think because I dared to critique a joke I’m a full bore racist. The joke was funny. It’s about white people compulsively exercising, running, biking. It has the tag line where the fuck they going?
I proposed nuance—that the disabled are denied health and wellness opportunities, especially people of color with disabilities. I’ve seen the effects of this first hand during may career as a disability activist. I’ve lost black friends to diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the US.
I recently lost a good friend, the activist and scholar Bill Peace, formerly known on line as Bad Cripple. He died from insufficient health care and an open wound —the kind that all too often kills wheel chair users. He fought during his lifetime for disability access to sports. It’s a very difficult and discouraging arena. Maybe you think because you see posters for the para-olympics that the disabled are living rosy, inclusive, healthy lives. I assure they are not.
On twitter I’m being called a racist and worse. Some are asserting that I should be “collected”which is the language of shaming culture. It means that because I employed a disability view in response to a joke by a black comedian I’m unredeemable, horrid, suspect, and probably need to be locked away.
Josef Stalin used to bring his top generals to his dacha and after plying them with liquor would make them dance to a phonograph record of howling wolves. There’s a cancel culture for you.
Am I perfect? Nope. Am I unkind? Nope. Do I care about people of color. You bet.
The folks attacking me are also convinced that because I’m an adept of the work of Kwame Appiah—a philosopher of terrific nuance—who argues that identity politics may not be good for a host of reasons—that this means I’m a racist. Far from it. But back to the Greeks; there are ways to not see and they have several declensions. As a blind person the ironies abound.