The existence of ramps and cut curbs does not guarantee the existence of accessibility. Ramps and other adaptations are there because of legal requirements in regards to disability and need for access. Getting in and being welcome when you are in are different things.
We live in an era of contradictions.
We are aware that ‘no’ means ‘no’ but we continue to act as if ‘no’ means ‘press on.’
We are aware that white men are most likely to commit mass shootings but black men are most likely to be shot by the police.
We are aware of privacy but post pictures of fat people eating in food courts with witty one liners under the photo.
We are aware of and even laud the concepts of ‘welcome’ and ‘generosity’ but we post memes against refugees and those of other faiths.
We are aware of the need for kindness and yet post pictures ridiculing scooter users in Walmart.
We are aware of bullying and yet we continue to do so at every turn.
We live in an era where we ‘tut’ the behaviour of others and spend no time governing our own behaviour.
Awareness doesn’t mean change.
I have been travelling a lot. I have been working hard a lot. My job here in Toronto and my job that takes me great distances are both demanding. I get tired. I am tired.
Today I have to be out a lot.
I have to go into the world and push around places and go to appointments and do all the things that people do.
And I don’t want to.
I don’t feel up to it.
The physical aspect of going out is something I’d enjoy. I like pushing myself long distances. I like feeling powerful in my ability to get where I’m going. I can push up ramps and roll down cut curbs. It’s all good.
But I don’t feel up to the other shit.
In a world where people are scandalized by reports of brutal bullying in schools and universities and work sites, scandal exists to titillate not illuminate the pervasiveness of the problem.
I am going out today because I have to.
There are things that need to be done.
But I don’t feel up to the stares, from people who know that staring is wrong.
I don’t feel up to the intrusive comments about my body, from people who know that shaming is wrong.
I don’t feel up to the casual dismissiveness of my humanity from people who claim to have no prejudice.
So I’ll go up ramps, I traverse cut curbs, I’ll do all that.
Aware does not mean Awoke.
So, I’ll need to dress up.
Put on my self esteem.
Pull up my self respect.
Put out my self regard and wrap it round me, tight.
Because I’m going out into the world, feeling vulnerable to those I meet. And I will protect myself. I know that I have value. I just hope and pray when I get home tonight, I’ll still believe that.