This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.
A strange thing happened in the bookstore today. I joined some friends for coffee and conversation. What could be strange about that, you ask? Well, I noticed we all had disabilities and used wheelchairs. It became momentarily awkward to me. All the disabled people were hanging out with each other. Almost like we didn’t have any other friends and our disabilities required us to be friends.
Of course, none of that is true. But I couldn’t help but think that maybe other people in the store were “summing us up,” so to say. I did ponder a bit (whilst ignoring my friends… sorry) about how people of different cultures tend to, for lack of a better term, group together. The vast amount of diversity on campus makes it easy to see this “phenomenon” happen. So why were a bunch of disabled students hanging out together at MSU’s Barnes & Noble Café? Because of their culture.
A lot of people on lots of disability blogs all over the place can tell you more about Disability culture than I will ever hope to know. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the idea. Like denial or something. But today it was painfully obvious. Disability culture, whatever it is, is real.
This thought has sent me spiraling back to my first day I joined Disaboom.com. That very day, I participated in a few discussions about the social model of disability compared to the medical model of disability. I won’t get in to all the details, but it was an eye opening discussion for me. Now I’m not going to say I’m a full supporter of the social model or the medical model. I will say that the medical model is not a legitimate opposing viewpoint. It seems to me it is just a piñata created by proponents of the social model so that they can bash it. But the social model has some good points. But that’s for another post.
These thoughts were running through my mind as my friend talked about the people in her past who told her she would not graduate from high school, or attend college. In my peripheral vision, I saw a guy at a nearby table, within earshot. I couldn’t help but imagine what he might be thinking, seeing my friend talking about overcoming “oppression.” I’ll most likely never know.
What are your thoughts about disability culture?