Eggheady Thoughts on Employment
Feb 03 10:51
By now you’ve probably seen the funny Think Beyond the Label commercial that encourages businesses to hire people with disabilities. If not, you can watch the commercial here, and read an excellent New York Times article about the campaign here.
This campaign focuses on an issue that – strangely – isn’t a high priority of our advocacy community: employment. I’m told employment doesn’t make the cut because it’s our moral responsibility to stand with the most oppressed in our community. And it’s generally accepted that people who live in nursing homes and other institutions are the most oppressed. So, that’s where we expend our energy and resources.
But this has got to change.
According to this way of thinking, we’ll never get around to focusing on employment. Why? Because it’s not fair to those who truly can’t work. And focusing primarily on productivity will just deepen disability oppression — also, I suspect survivor’s guilt plays a role. I understand this argument, but I think it’s ridiculous. It’s like saying since we can’t immediately end Joe’s oppression, we might as well go ahead and oppress Bob.
Additionally, we have adopted a community organizing model that erroneously teaches change can only come from the very bottom up. In fact, I can’t think of a single successful social change movement that was initiated and propagated primarily by the poorest of the poor, the most oppressed of the oppressed. Social change, in actuality, typically begins in the middle class. These are the people who have the leisure time, education and a little extra cash to get things going. The poorest of the poor, the most oppressed among us, are just trying to survive. If done well, social movements can then be successfully expanded to the poorest among us.
If we don’t figure out how to keep people from getting that poor and oppressed in the first place, we won’t ever reach our goal of people with disabilities being able to live as independently as they wish. And the easiest way to not be poor is to get a decent job.
What would happen if, as a community, we decided that our number one goal ought to be delinking disability from poverty, and developed strategies accordingly? What if we stopped accepting the fact that so many in our community are forced to subsist on government checks? And what if, instead, it became our community’s number one priority to push for policies that truly can shift that unemployment rate? And, too, would allow disabled workers to decide for themselves how they’d like to spend their paychecks, rather than forcing them to spend it on disability-related expenses that, really, ought to be shared by society as a whole?
Post a comment about this blog!
Feb 03 11:15
I just wanted to let you know that your latest New Mobility blog post about employment has inspired MY latest blog post. Okay, so I spend most of my piece arguing with you. But still, I thought you'd like to know that you sparked a response! My piece is called "Debating Advocacy Priorities: Free the Oppressed, or Promote Employment?," and it's at http://www.laurahershey.com/?p=247
Just a heads-up!
Of course, I'd love your comments in reply.
Feb 09 10:15
i ABSOLUTELY agree with you. too many times have come against the wall with services and trying to get an education and being told that i'm "not disabled enough" or fighting waiver programs by saying just because i'm trying to get my master's (and eventually my md/phd) doesnt mean that i do not need help. current programs do not want to help those with disabilities who can work to get meaningful jobs that get them off of social security (the same can be said for welfare) where is the incentive to work, if you know you'll lose services you need to carry out daily living activities. and so then ur forced to choose (if they have the ability to do so) and if you choose to be fully independent and work, it comes at great risk. scary. you get a lot of lip service saying they want you to be independent, but no one wants to help you get there. very frustrating and i agree that it needs to change.
Mar 11 12:56
As a visually impaired unemployed person, I wish the ad would have shown people with real disabilities, besides the narrator, doing jobs instead of made up disabilities.
Feb 16 09:54
In the early 1900s, the first pens with http://www.deluxe4less.com matching pinwere made to wear on a lady'slapel. In 1915, the lapel [url=http://www.deluxe4less.com]fake pens[/url] was improved: The watch face was upside down so the replica pens wearer could read it more easily http://www.deluxe4less.com.