The Employment Advocacy Debate ContinuesFeb 26 01:25
Following is a comment by Cripchick passionately disagreeing with my employment entry that I found on Laura Hershey’s site. All I know about Cripchick is what I’ve read on her blog. She has interesting opinions backed by a strong voice and I look forward to hearing more from her.
Below Cripchick’s is a comment by Mark Plocharczyk, whose blog you can read here. You may remember Mark from Roxy Furlong’s article, “Navigating the Home Care Maze.” Mark comes at the issue from the perspective of a guy who would be at great risk for a nursing home if he didn’t have services, and also of a guy who is proud of his work history.
Cripchick’s comments make me feel neocon, and Mark’s makes me wonder if I’m some kind of socialist, and yet politically all three of us write from some place left of center. I’ll be interested to see how you respond.
To recap, this all began with my Feb. 3 entry, “Eggheady Thoughts on Employment.”
I disagree with Josie’s article on soooo many levels. It seems so disconnected with the reality and work of the majority of disabled people I know. Rarely do I spend the little energy I have to address people (I do not know and do not feel accountable to)’s white privilege but taking the time to write this comment on your blog out of deep respect for you [Laura Hershey] (and to be transparent, because I would love to get to know you).
First, I think employment IS the top policy priority of the disability rights movement. deinstitutionalization and community supports may be number one priority to ADAPT and the independent living community but the disability rights movement is much bigger than IL world and using the two interchangeably erases so much work being done, particularly done by people who have been excluded by that community.
Second, I think the fact that employment policy is our top priority is a problem. the employment rate for our community is disgustingly low and needs to be addressed but I think the way we approach employment is rooted in an assimilationist politic that does not do much to get our community free. the way we look at employment now prioritizes the needs of white, class-privileged disabled folks who speak well, who already are close to fitting dominant culture’s standard of productivity, and can use social movement language to regain privilege they may have lost because of their disability. It often focuses on creating incentives for nondisabled people to hire us or mandates to hire us … it does not do much to dismantle structural and attitudinal ableism that creates barriers for us to be employed.
Ableism rarely rears its ugly head alone. Most times I see ableism in employment, it is so entangled in racism/classism/ideas about what is “smart” “productive” that it almost feels impossible to deconstruct into single strands. speaking as a queer disabled woman of color working in the southeast, I can’t think of a movement that is relevant to my life and that of my friends that began with privileged folks. The way that power works means that centralizing the experiences, voices and leadership of people on the margins of community is the only way to create a movement that truly inclusive to us all. The “Bob” Josie mentioned in her article is already being centralized and maybe it is just me but I have no time for a movement that will never free my people.
And now let’s hear from Mark:
I have an opinion here and I feel it's qualified because I've been on both ends of the spectrum. I agree with, Josie. I think Laura's opinion is part of the problem. Whatever the barriers are that prevent or slow down the disabled community from employment need to be removed. Employment gives an individual power. One, it gives an individual money. Like it or not, money gives your voice additional volume. Two, employment raises an individual's self esteem. Three, employment in itself raises awareness that the disabled community can work. I understand the nursing home issues. But, to the non-disabled community those issues are just looked at as additional welfare to yet another group that can't or chooses not help themselves. I worked for two Fortune 500 companies. I was an equal with my non-disabled peers. They respected me because they knew nothing was given to me. My position garnered employment for additional disabled workers.
Americans are tired of holding up people that can, if they choose to, hold themselves up. When the employment levels of the disabled get closer to mainstream
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1. MarkPloch | Feb 26 02:33
Josie, if my words make you feel like socialist, I have not been clear enough. To be honest, I couldn't understand what Cripchick was trying to say. The disabled community has some heavy hitters that know how to raise awareness and get issues solved. If employment was made to be the top priority things would happen. My personal experience with Access Living in Chicago proved to me that they are only willing to help themselves (I wont go into those details now). Because the disabled activists already have jobs, employment for the rest of the community doesn't matter. As I mentioned from before employment solves many issues for the disabled. No business is going to give away a job and not expect performance. So, businesses need to be shown that the disabled CAN work and they CAN deliver quality work. The business world also needs proof that hiring the disabled isn't going to cost them money. The one thing I learned in business is that it is ALWAYS about the bottom line.
2. Josie | Feb 26 03:01
Mark, I have high respect for your opinion and recognize you are an expert on the issue. I didn't mean any offense, but was just noting the gulf between the two views. In fact, I invite you to pitch us an article idea on the issue.
3. MarkPloch | Feb 26 03:21
I didn't take it has an insult. I was trying to portray that we, the community, needs to help ourselves. Almost the opposite of socialism. The country is tapped out wanting to help. I honestly believe we can do it ourselves.
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