Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Reflection on the Ten Principles of Disability Justice

Charlie's picture

Out of all the pieces we read this past week about disability identity and justice, the one which resonated the most with me was Sins Invalid's Ten Principles of Disability Justice, and in particular the ideas of sustainability and interdependence. Throughout my life, I have been exposed to disability in the unfortunately standard way in the US: if you are disabled, you either "fix yourself" so as to become independent and productive in society, or become a burden to your family, social services, etc. if you are unable to do so. I became very detached from that label and community of disability, being conditioned to see it as only inclusive of that supposed latter group who "could not fix themselves" and became something a little less than human in the eyes of society. Thankfully I've spent enough time now learning about disability to be able to reject that image of disability, though it is always an ongoing process of unworking conditioned stereotypes and bias.

This is why when I read Sins Invalid's Principles of Disability Justice, these ideas resonated very strongly with me. The idea that your disability is not something to be working against, or working in spite of, but working with and letting guide you was radical in my mind, even as obvious as it seems now. My body has spent years screaming at me to tell me to slow down to my pace and let life take its time, but going to a pressure-cooker prep school followed by Haverford, I became incredibly skilled at ignoring it and pushing forward anyway, inevitably leading to burnout and depression. The Ten Principles were a welcome reminder to me that not only is it ok to take things at the pace you are able (and honestly the pace you want to), but that it is best to do so as well. As I go forward in college, in my advocacy work, and in my life beyond, I hope that I can really internalize that understanding of my body and rebuild that connection to myself as I strive to work interdependently with others in building a more just future, on whatever scale that may be. 


Danika's picture

This this this this this. It's SO hard to "overcome" barriers impressed by the way we were raised to perceive disability in ourselves and others, and actively denying the notion that we should overcome those expectations is a form of resistance and activism. It's especially difficult as people who have been under high pressure and expectations our whole lives to suddenly reject the notion that we have to operate at that degree in order to be successful and productive. It is really something even more impressive to say, "no, that's not what's good for me," and then do what IS good for you, despite how it's perceived by society.