Elizabeth Lampkin, Contributing Writer
In past and recent news, people with disabilities were victims of the police. They have also been the cause of violent activities. Disabilities are physical or mental conditions that limit a person’s activities. They can also cause erratic behavior if not properly treated. Anyone can have a disability. They do not discriminate. Many people who may have disabilities often go undiagnosed. This is due to the negative stigmas associated with them. It also stems from refusing to face facts about the issue and where or who it came from.
Throughout history, people with disabilities have been negatively stigmatized. Some cultures view them as a curse. Others identify people with disabilities as helpless. The media often portrays disabled persons as objects that deserve pity. They are not seen as humans with meaningful lives. And sadly enough, some believe disabilities are diseases you can catch. What many fail to understand is that disabilities are not negative labels. They are conditions that affect people in different ways. These differences should not carry negative stigmas. More importantly, having a disability is a different way a person functions. It is a part of who they are. It is not who they are.
Why does society negatively stigmatized those who have impairments?
- They do not fit into what is deemed normal. Having a disability defies typical pre-existing standards or social norms. Anything or anyone who lives outside of this is often ostracized. This narrative must change. Just because someone lives contrariwise does not mean they should be subject to judgment.
- Pure ignorance. People mock, disfavor or fear what they do not understand. Instead of remaining unknowledgeable begin a quest for knowledge. Learn more about various disabilities and see how your mindset changes.
- Shame. In many communities, particularly black communities, disabilities are shameful. This occurs because they bring about a sense of humiliation. Humiliation brings about a lack of self-worth. Many people go undiagnosed in African American communities for fear of perception. Those who have known disabilities often lack resources in their neighborhoods. This creates a struggle for those who care for disabled loved ones. Could this be due to the negative views of disabilities? If so, it is time for a drastic change.
Individuals with “different abilities” are visible in an unfair light. If more people would practice compassion this would change. Things would also change if people learned about disabilities. Taking time to educate ourselves will help our communities. Educating ourselves will bring awareness. Bringing awareness will change the normal tolerance of mistreating disabled people. We can begin changing this narrative in our communities. We can start by having community forums about disabilities. These meetings can provide specific information about the most common and unknown cases. It is also beneficial to be intentionally inclusive of those with impairments. They are often overlooked or left out of many activities or events.
Anyone can have a disability. Whether they are born with one or one develops. No matter how someone functions throughout their daily lives, they do not deserve to be the subject of negative stigmas because of their abilities. The reality of life is that anything can change in the blink of an eye. While you may be completely “able” today, you never know what tomorrow can bring.
Liz Lampkin is a Love, Relationships, and Lifestyle writer. Follow her on social media @Liz_Lampkin