The Effect of Discrimination on People with Disabilities
Tonight, at almost 22 with a life- long disability, I have a little bit of a broken heart. A broken heart in a way many can’t understand. A heartache that I wish on no one. A heartache that takes a lot of strength to overcome constantly; most of the time as I work hard to not let others see. I have experienced many forms of discrimination with a lack of remorse or understanding in my life, and unfortunately, it doesn’t, at all, get any easier to deal with. It shouldn’t. I was headed to PanIQ Escape Room DC to celebrate an occasion with my family. We couldn’t find the building, so we called to find the location. When the person on the phone described the location we realized there were stairs to the main entrance, so we asked where the entrance was for people in wheelchairs. The response was simply, “ there isn’t one”. There also wasn’t an apology, refund, or any form of accommodation (that allowed me to participate) made. I have many issues with this. If I CHOOSE to I am a person that can participate in anything anyone else can. I have that right. It should be given REGARDLESS of my difference or difficulty I COULD cause the business. Here’s the thing, anyone could cause the business difficulty or a difference. It doesn’t matter how a person seems to act or look. Who is to judge if I can or can’t be a part of or in business because of my physical difference?
Next, I can’t tell you the pain I felt as I sat on the sidewalk being told my family couldn’t participate in this experience. We all had to miss out on what should’ve been a great experience simply because of the fact that I use a chair. I’m grateful for such a supportive family, but we all know it’s unfair and heartbreaking for all of us. My heart especially broke for the person I was there to celebrate. They shouldn’t have to give up an experience with me because of a situation like this. Lastly, many people tell me I’m so inspirational for how I handle and get through things as if I have it all together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been angry and questioned my sense of independence because of ignorance such as tonight. Will I have to question if I’m welcome to participate in an establishment every time I want to go somewhere? What makes me so different that I can’t have the same rights as everyone else without a fight? These questions are unfair, but unfortunately, important to ask and assume. Maybe things are like this, so there can be an advocate for change.
YOU are valuable and worthy. YOU deserve equality for being exactly as you are. WE will work to make that happen. As I sit here thinking of the situation I experienced, and the next course of action I want to take, I hope it’s known that even with the amount of disrespect I experienced, it is not my goal to bad mouth this company. I have no desire to ever go back, and bad mouthing the company will only hurt me even more in the end. The reason I share my feelings on the subject is to make a difference for younger generations and myself in similar situations. I use my situation as a hopeful wake up call for this world. If places don’t have the capability to welcome and support the desires of people with disabilities as they would anyone else, we need to work together to find solutions. I do what I do so that this heartache and fear of acceptance NEVER happens to those younger than me. Many of us struggle personally with seeming different than other people as it is. It takes a lot of guts sometimes to make a difference or try again with something new that’s based around the subject of a disability, especially with people in society that are less than understanding. My heart just hurts right now. Not simply because of a “ why me” situation, but really an indescribable frustration that someone else in this world could or has experienced the same hurt I have in more ways than one. I know the only way to “ fix” these emotions is to do something and continue through the situation no matter how hard it may be some days.
It’s funny, a few weeks ago, I wrote a paper with the thesis of “ our hardest battles often turn out to be our best callings in life.” When thinking about it, I thought my hardest battles were meant to be typical. They might’ve been my journey through multiple surgeries, college, family loss, or dealing with the symptoms of my condition. I never really imagined the subjects of discrimination or what makes me stand out as being a part of my hopeful career path. It all reminds me that we have a circumstance that is unique enough resulting in our own special impact. Our actions affect the future. Take it a day at a time and make a difference in the way you were made to. Lastly, remember to support one another. Thank you to everyone for your support in all of this. I know and appreciate that I’m loved by so many of you. Stay tuned for the work I will be doing. I promise I will work my hardest to make it worth it.