I don’t speak in public. I occasionally engage in other expressive conduct (I’ve walked out of church sermons in protest), but I haven’t spoken. Until yesterday.
I attended one of the many rallies against Charlottesville at city hall. As I suspect happened at some other rallies, the conversation turned more broadly to the Trump administration, the ACA, how to get involved in local Indivisible or Democratic organization, etc. I heard about working against racism, sexism, and for LGBTQ rights. I did not hear anything about disability issues.**
So I quickly got my thoughts together, stood and spoke:
Hi. My name is Pat. I have a disability — I have bipolar disorder.
I watched in horror during the campaign as Trump mocked a disabled reporter. I have watched as senators have voted to dismantle the ACA, which so many disabled people, whatever their disability, rely on to get needed health care.***
One of the things I find, not just for myself but for some of my friends, is the fight against despair. Because sometimes it looks like there are so many things… There’s health care and voter suppression and there’s this and there’s that … I think that’s part of their strategy, to overwhelm people so they can’t get a grip.
I would encourage people to find one or two things to work on, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
I was at the Women’s March. I was at the March for Science. I’m here. Being together with other people is so important.
One last thing –if you are feeling overwhelmed, Robert Reich has a wonderful video called “How to Survive the Summer of Trump.” I thought I’d pass that along.
It’s not the Gettysburg address; on the other hand, I was a lot less long-winded than some of the other speakers. When I mentioned struggling against despair, I saw people nodding in the crowd. The same happened when I mentioned the Reich video.
But best of all, afterward a teenage girl came up to me and shyly said “I have bipolar disorder, too. Thank you.”
Next up: maybe counter-protest at Google; definitely a rally the day after. Maybe a counter protest in San Francisco on the 26th. This fight is going to take a while.
I seriously doubt I will speak at any of them; then again, I didn’t expect to speak yesterday.
*Yes, I know crazy is supposed to be derogatory. I’m using it ironically.
*** I’ve noticed this a lot. Often times, disability rights get overlooked in the list of causes progressives fight for.
***Unfortunately, I forgot and left off the line that I had in my head, which would have tied what I said to Charlottesville: “And I am well aware of what the Nazis did to people like me.”