This Sunday night was extremely powerful at Crip Camp: The Virtual Experience. The topic was the Disability Community and civic engagement and two of the guest speakers were no other than President Barack Obama and Judy Heumann!
There are so many levels here, I reckon. Maybe the thing that made the strongest impression was that it was President Obama who introduced Heumann. The fact that the former President of the United States was not the featured speaker, but the pre-act for the real McCoy felt – although completely accurate – humble in a way I think we seldom experience. (Albeit not all that surprising considering it was the Obamas who produced the documentary Crip Camp and… well, Judy being Judy!) But enough about that; my plan was not for this post to be about how star struck I was by Heumann (and Obama!), but rather to be about a conversation they had, namely about “being human”.
Initially Obama talked about intersectionality and relatability. He argues that no one is ever just one thing, but that minorities have an advantage since they are able to empathize and relate to other minorities wanting more or less the same thing: to live in a world that accept diversity. At the same time Obama also emphasized that all of us – no matter who we are – have one thing in common: we are all humans. Fair enough… or?
”We have to be allowed being human.” – Judy Heumann
Thank you, Judy. This quote summarizes everything. I could actually have posted just that and titled it “A Crip Political Summer Blog” and called it a day. We must be allowed being human. No more no less.
If we are allowed being human, then we have rights. If we are allowed being human these rights will be followed. If we are allowed being human then we will have respectability, we will have opportunities, there will be demands made (both on us and on you). If we are allowed being human “we” will turn into a broader concept – namely exactly just that: humans and humanity. This may be a simplification of a much more complex structure. Whether you are considered being human or a non-human with one characteristic only, namely being… what? Broken? does not say all that much about neither ableism nor norms talking of abilities. But at the same time: it is not until we are allowed being human that these conversations can take place.
Although; the understanding of “allowing” is a topic for another blog post…!