It is a harsh reality that people with disability experience discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis.
People with disability experience subtle forms of prejudice every day. Although they are subtle, this can cause a great deal of damage to these people.
It was when I was thinking about subtle, unintentional comments towards people with disability, when I came across the term ‘microaggression’
Dr Jessica Kirkpatrick explains that microaggressions are everyday insults which send negative messages to people because they belong to a marginalised group. People who commit microaggressions, often don’t intend to cause harm. However microaggressions can inflict great harm.
Blogger Wendy Lu, woman with a disability writes microaggressions are often subtle, negative comments about people with disability
An example of this is when people tell a person with a disability is inspiring for doing every day tasks.
I was compelled to write about microaggressions experienced by people with disability, due to a recent incident in the media. Radio presenter Jon Faine, made offensive comments to disability advocate, Carly Findlay regarding disability.
Reporter Brodie Carmardy writes that when disability advocate Carly Findlay was being interviewed by Jon Faine, he claimed that she looked like a burns victim and it can’t be good for her on Halloween.
Furthermore Jon degraded Carly by asking her an extremely personal question such has she had sex. Carly states she wondered whether he asks his guest without a disability similar questions.
Dr Jessica Kirkpatrick writes that a macroaggression can occur when people feel entitled to ask people with a disability highly intimate questions. She writes that when someone asks a person with disability invasive questions, it highlights the fact that they are viewed as different.
Reflecting on Carly’s interview, EPIC Assist CEO Bill Gamic wrote that Carly has found it offensive when being approached by strangers saying that they would pray for her. Bill writes it is not kind for a person to tell a person with a disability that they will pray for them. It implies that there is something about a person with disability that requires “fixing”. This is a form of macroaggression.
I’ve been approached by strangers who want to do a healing prayer over me.
Although they may have good intentions, it made me feel devalued as a human being.
A form of macroaggression is when people with disability are viewed as inspirational for completing ordinary tasks.
Blogger Cara Leibowitz, writes that by people praising someone with disability for doing an ordinary task, they are sending a message to people with disability that they don’t deserve to live a life like everyone else.
I’ve experience people for praising me for doing something viewed as ordinary. When I went to a job interview, the interviewer praised me for my university qualifications. She said I was an inspiration. I am sure she didn’t say that to the other candidates. This reminded me that people have low expectations of people with disability.
Another form of macroaggression is staring at people due to their disability.
A blogger with a disability who goes by the name Affliction Fiction, wrote that sometimes they felt as if they were an exhibit for a freak show. Affliction Fiction wished they could of charged people for staring.
When I go out into the community, I am stared at by many people due to my disability. Most of the time I look away. However it really distresses me. It magnifies my differences.
Professor Lauren Van Sluytman writes people who experience microagression can have ongoing psychological distress.
Dr Jessica advises people who want to ensure they are not making an offensive comment to a person with a disability, must ask themselves whether they would say this to a person without a disability. She writes that if the answer is no, then what they are about to say is probably a microaggression
I believe that if people realise that they have been unintentionally discriminating against people with disability, they will stop behaving this way.
If we want a truly inclusive society, people with disability must be treated as any other citizen.
I realize that this may be a learning process for many. However we, people with disability, can assist you in this journey.
To have an inclusive society people with disability must be given the same respect as any other person.
Now that’s a society I want to live in.
Dr Jessica Kirkpatrick https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/preventing-microaggressions-jessica-kirkpatrick/
Cara Leibowitz https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/everyday-ableism-and-how-we-can-avoid-it/
Affliction Fiction http://www.theafflictionfiction.com/2016/02/ableism-101-general-individual-ableism.html
Laurens Van Sluytman https://theconversation.com/many-small-microaggressions-add-up-to-something-big-50694