When Disability Is a Toxic Legacy
Disability is not wrong or tragic or bad, but sometimes it is a symptom of a grave injustice.
ThisisAn Unquiet Mind, a monthly column by s.e. smith that explores disability identity and its interaction with the world at large.
One of my earliest memories involves sitting under the massive, whirling arms of a Heidelberg Windmill, listening to the kiss/thunk of the press, beating in a steady, familiar, comforting rhythm that matched the beat of my own small heart. It was a foil run that day, and the light glittered off the foil, a forbidden banner of gold, as it jerked through the feeder. Someone must have been operating the press but in my memory I am alone, looking up through the forest of machinery, feeling the throb of the press across my whole body.
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Those who spend their lives in bodies others deem unworthy grow accustomed to building our own self-worth.
It is not so much that these things are invisible as it is that people are trained to hide them, and society is conditioned to look away from them.
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I want to surround myself with people who argue with me, for I learn so much more from these conversations.
It is very rare, as a disabled person, that I have an intense sense of belonging, of being not just tolerated or included in a space, but actively owning it.