All across the United States something powerful is happening, have you noticed? People are speaking up, speaking out and sitting in. Wheels are turning, tides are shifting and voices are demanding to be heard. In a country forged by resistance, protest and pure force of will, people are fighting for their very lives once again. Lives that our culture still finds inherently other, at times even lesser. A diverse group, organized under a common, sometimes conflicted banner known as disability. We’re strong, we adapt and we sure as hell get things done!
Right now, disabled activists are fighting arguably one of the most important battles since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Paralleling the movement for disabled civil rights in the 80’s and 90’s, organizations such as ADAPT are leading the charge. Things like equal transportation were not just gratuitously given by the government, they were demanded using direct-action protest methods. Activists today continue to make the “dis” in civil disobedience stand for “disabled”. From Washington D.C. to Chicago, from Ohio to Colorado, there are disabled people holding their elected officials accountable.
Currently, the Republican controlled White House, Congress and Senate are seeking to alienate self-evident truths. The health plan nicknamed “Trumpcare” would cost many disabled Americans their life, their liberty and certainly the pursuit of happiness. This bill would strip roughly 22 million people of health insurance and cut Medicaid by around $800 billion over the next few years. Since disabled people would be some of the most deeply impacted by the cuts, we’re bringing the thunder.
Activists like Anita Cameron, Stephanie Woodward and Gregg Beratan filled the hall Mitch McConnell’s office, willing to be arrested for the cause. In Denver, protesters took part in a sit-in that lasted nearly 59 hours. Among was disabled lawyer Carrie Ann Lucas who defiantly said, “We are not going down without a fight… I’d rather go to jail than die without Medicaid!” Disabled activists are also extremely connected; for every one protesters on the street there’s a dozen more online. People like Dominick Evans, Alice Wong and myself use the internet as our platform for change.
In the battle to preserve healthcare, many lives hang in the balance and it’s up to all of us to fight. When politicians opinions can so deeply affect the life of someone with a disability, that life is inherently political. Democracy does not end at the ballot, it carries forward with every heartbeat and keystroke of protest. These are very uncertain times, however, there is still hope in resistance. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”