Friday, March 3, 2017

Disability Day of Mourning: about the victims and no one else

Wednesday was the annual Disability Day of Mourning, when disabled people and our supporters gather and hold vigils and read the names of the hundreds of disabled people murdered by caregivers. In addition to holding meatspace vigils, there is an online vigil and people make their observance known in other ways across social media and in person, as their abilities and inclinations allow.

This post isn't about that much, except that the list is SO LONG. SO. LONG. Y'ALL. Starting with 2016 (it was cold, rainy, and a very late start) it still took half an hour to read names without causes of death. That's upsetting.

But what this post is about is the reactions of...certain the existence of DDoM.

The Disability Day of Mourning is about remembering the disabled victims of caregiver violence, who are so often erased from their own stories, who are made to be the bad guys in their own murders. That is what it is about. That is who it is about.

So why are parents of disabled people making it about them? Why is the knee jerk reaction of so many parents "stop demonizing me" and "not all parents" and "acknowledge how hard it is!!!!"

Y'all. Listen to yourselves.

If you did not kill your disabled family member, you don't get a cookie, and DDoM is in no way about you. No shit "not all parents", this is not about parents. It is about disabled people, who are people in our own right, not just as appendages to Real People like yourselves. And everyone goddamn acknowledges your shoes all the fucking time. DDoM started because, after the murder of George Hodgins, the Autism Society of America put out a story about "the tragedy of Elizabeth Hodgins" that didn't even mention George's name. That's how bad the erasure is here.

We needed a vigil, done by us, to have our deaths at least be about us rather than about how we inconvenience those around us.

It is not about you. If you feel attacked by the very existence of an event, one day a year, to remember people murdered by caregivers, dig deep and think about why that is. Do you relate to the killers a bit too much? Do you struggle to see disabled people as people rather than as appendages to those you can see as people? Really contemplate, rather than lashing out at people who are mourning.

Even if you won't mourn with us, allow us our grief. The people we remember on DDoM deserve to be cried for, and we deserve room for our pain. Let us have that. It's one day a year that isn't about your shoes. Let us have one day where we can be mournful about people ripped from our communities without making it about someone else's goddamn shoes.

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