Emma's Summer Contemplations - July 28th

This year ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] celebrates 30 years. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, accessibility online, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. . I could write a rant about the need of a Swedish version. On how that seems impossible since Sweden – opposed to the US – do not have a system based on being able to sue organizations, companies, and other actors when having been discriminated. So, I think I will leave this for now. (It would probably be better off as a debate article with added sources rather than a blog post.) Instead I will focus on something said on the Crip Camp webinar this Sunday night.

In order to celebrate ADA’s birthday, several crip profiles had been invited to mini-conversations. Among others, Natasha Ofili and Jillian Mercado were there talking about how it is to work in front of the cameras. Ofili and Mercado are both from the fashion industry and are nowadays also working as actresses. When they got the question of how it is to represent others in their work and why it is important, Mercado answered:

“I don’t like holding the door for other people. I like removing the door, because doors can get shut.”

Doors can absolutely get shut.

I want to state that there are several layers to all of this. On one hand – just as Mercado is saying – the doors have to be removed entirely to make room for actual representation. It should be a given that it is not always specific people who are always seen, heard, and get room to talk. On the other hand it is also immensely tiresome to be a doorstop.

We are not talking enough about doorstops. When we do bring it up for discussion, it often occurs in the wrong way. The focus often ends up on the individual as inspirational or – in the worst case – as a critique for being exactly that; an inspiration. We seldom speak about how exhausting it is to be the one holding the door for others. The stress in, constantly, looking behind making sure no one is left behind and making sure yet another person has managed to get through the door. To rather have to be doorstop than what you de facto wish to be – no matter if it is an actress, author, football pro, or working at the local grocery store. To be the one making it possible for other individuals and not everyone is unrewarding and draining and nothing I would ever recommend.

But to instead be the remover of doors…! To get fueled up and then BANG! The door disappeared. There are not one or two or four after you; there are endlessly many or no one at all. It simply does not matter because the ableist door is gone and the thresholds are burned to cinders. The doorknob is now placed at a museum, as a part of an exhibition of the narrow-minded society we have been living in, which feels as foreign as wearing a crinoline… or put away changelings in the forest.

There may be too many doors in this text. Not super accessible since it is all based on metaphors. In order to exemplify in a Swedish context: the door holder is the Swedish Act concerning Support and Service to Persons with Certain Functional Disabilities (LSS) – a door which lets some individual through and is shutting in other people’s faces [LSS is currently being severely downgraded in Sweden].

Emma Åstrand  

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