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Thread: Ableism

  1. #1
    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    Default Ableism

    Ableism is a central concept in disability rights. The term was originally popularized by Thomas Hehir, a special education scholar who defined it as “'the devaluation of disability' that 'results in societal attitudes that uncritically assert that it is better for a child to walk than roll, speak than sign, read print than read Braille, spell independently than use a spell-check, and hang out with nondisabled kids as opposed to other disabled kids.'"
    - What is ableist language and why should you care?

    Is changing language and never placing one state of being as preferable to another necessary in the struggle for rights? Is saying that having full use of your mind or body is preferrable automatically bad? Are people bigots if they would rather have a neurotypical child than one suffering from a severe brain defect?
    Last edited by Peeta Mellark; 02 Apr 2011 at 12:14 PM.

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    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    If saying I want a healthy child is bad, I'll be bad. But is it that or just saying that kids with disabilities should be mainstreamed as much as possible?

    The story from several years back about blind people chastising others blind people that got successful corrective surgery is just stupidity out of control, but these as far as I know are the rare exceptions.

    I can't see calling soon to be parents bigots for hoping for a healthy child with no disabilities.

  3. #3
    Elephant Ramses's avatar
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    To be fair, there is a certain enabling culture which understandably springs from these communities of those segregated from mainstream culture due to disability. They are allowed to actually view the expression of their deviation from the norm as a positive instead of a negative, and it is a rare shining point considering that most others are quick to disregard someone based on, trivialize them due to, or treat with undue pampering someone because of, their differences.

    So yes, when someone 'defects' due to the pressure of society to conform to the norm, it can be taken a bit similar to, say, the negative backlash of a race 'selling themselves out' to go mainstream; it was the right choice for the person who made it, even if the society they were constrained to prior does not see it as anything but a betrayal of some ideals and solidarity. Their reaction, yes, is somewhat unjustified, but also understandable.

    The reason that their reaction is unjustified, of course, is the fact that the MAINSTREAM culture is, in fact, ableist. It's natural, of course, to prefer a mainstream-oriented healthy child - that's not really the issue I have with ableism. My issue is that for those not born into these mainstream conditions are then subjected to a constant, unceasing (and usually totally harmlessly unintended) reminder that they are in some way inferior.

    Language is important. There is a nice cultural anthropological argument that language impacts culture, and culture impacts language, right? I seem to recall that; but it still holds true that if you tell someone they're never going to be good enough, it is entirely possible that they won't think they are. Even if it's done lovingly and respectfully and with a little insulting coddling.

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    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Your disability status isn't the same as your worth as a human being. Devaluing people with disabilities, using slurs against them, or denying them full human rights is wrong, but it's also a bit unrealistic to ignore the many cases in which having a disability really is quantifiably worse than being abled. There are wheelchair athletes out there and people faster on artificial legs than they could ever be on flesh and bone, but there also people like my friend S who would like more than anything to be able to live the pain-free life of an able-bodied woman. It's not bigotry to say that her disability is a very bad thing for her. It would be bigotry to treat her as less than a person or to assume that everyone in a wheelchair suffers in the exact same way she does, though.

    Quote Originally posted by What Exit?
    The story from several years back about blind people chastising others blind people that got successful corrective surgery is just stupidity out of control, but these as far as I know are the rare exceptions.
    Not in cases where you have an insular environment so that people end up creating a community based on their disability. For example, Deaf communities will sometimes view cochlear implants and other attempts to eradicate deafness as being akin to eugenics.

    Quote Originally posted by What Exit?
    I can't see calling soon to be parents bigots for hoping for a healthy child with no disabilities.
    I agree, though obviously not everyone does. In a discussion on abortion rights I had in another community, someone said they were pro-choice except for the fact that people might choose to abort fetuses with disabilities. And so while abortion for rape, incest, a broken condom, illness, a desire to no longer be pregnant or whatever was okay, one based off of amniocentesis results wasn't.

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    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    Oh good, responses. I didn't want to color the conversation too much by putting in my own opinions right off the bat.

    Quote Originally posted by Ramses View post
    So yes, when someone 'defects' due to the pressure of society to conform to the norm, it can be taken a bit similar to, say, the negative backlash of a race 'selling themselves out' to go mainstream; it was the right choice for the person who made it, even if the society they were constrained to prior does not see it as anything but a betrayal of some ideals and solidarity. Their reaction, yes, is somewhat unjustified, but also understandable.
    The "defecting" thing isn't usually an issue outside of communities. For most people who are disabled, they don't exist in a community of persons with disabilities. They just live ordinary lives, with some alterations based on their needs.

    I actually really loathe all the rhetoric different activist groups use where they appropriate race issues for things that have nothing to do with race precisely because of this. The culture and experiences of my father, my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my grandmother, my great-grandparents, all the way back to when they were dragged to this country created an environment from the moment I was born. There is a culture and a history there, and while it's influenced by oppression it is not defined by it. If I sit in my grandmother's kitchen telling stories, those stories are within our culture. If I sit around with people from group therapy telling stories, those stories are all about being crazy and how awful society is to us, because that's all we have in common. We don't really have a shared history. We have a shared oppression. That's an unhealthy thing to base a community identity on.

    As for the language, I find those gymnastics to be the most insulting part of the movement. I am what those in the disability rights cause call "neuro-atypical" and they would also assure me that my "atypicalness" is in no way worse than being "neurotypical." The problems I have, they would say, are largely the result of the dominant society's oppression and devaluation and not, as one would suppose, a result of my faulty brain wiring. A doctor has given me a diagnosis and has given me medication, along with helping me get into group therapy that's oriented towards helping me interact with the world in a healthy, stable manner.

    Guess which one has saved my life? I'd rather be called crazy until the day I die, but get the help I need, than be told I'm just fine the way I am.

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    I really don't think that using mental disorders as the reason why ableism is okay is the most viable thing to do, Peeta. And I absolutely disagree that the disabled can't be given the association that a race would be for these examples; if you are born deaf, you are going to be a member of the deaf community... or you're going to be miserable. And the deaf community has outlets, games, entire school systems, built around them. If you are going to genuinely tell me that deaf people have no culture because it's an issue of some manner of impairment instead of because of the fact they, I don't know, ethnically all come from Insert Location Here, I think that's complete malarkey. Their community is strong, their community has a rich history, and within their community they're absolutely normal people.

    Until they get away from their community. Where innocent slurs are used, and they are treated with kid gloves or ignored as an invisible entity, all because of this difference. Oh, you can't hear me? I will speak louder, and make exaggerated motions, as if I am talking to a dog. Oh, you can't hear me...? Eh, not worth it! That kind of alienation, that kind of ignorant special-treatment of one spectrum or another sends a clear message every day to the deaf person away from their community: that something is wrong with them.

    Sure, biologically there is. The baseline human body should be able to hear. It's hard to argue the scientific clarity that, yes, there is something abnormal here, and it would probably be beneficial to them to be normal. So what? That ship has sailed for the people we're talking about, mostly. They can't go back to normal, and they're here, are we supposed to shun them and humiliate them through verbage and pointed declaration that seems to continuously assert that they're DEAF PEOPLE and not PEOPLE? Because that is what this sort of language goes towards; shaming people who don't deserve it. Making it clear they're different.

    Yes, if you are schizophrenic, and completely disconnected from the world, it might be helpful for people to point out your issue so you can resolve it before it's a danger to your life or theirs. If you are deaf, or blind, and you're fine with that? No one should humiliate you for it. In fact, if you decide to deal with your psychoses yourself, for that matter, sure, maybe you even deserve that special consideration... if you can do it without help, great. But the focus here is on humiliating people who are able to be functional within society, by effectively shaming them from that society with word-play and behavior. If someone can suppress their psychoses and be a functioning member, and just know how to ignore the voices in their head, why should that guy be lampooned either, if he decides he is comfortable with his insanity, I suppose, to use your example.

    But as Zuul said above; because of the richness of some communities, yes, betrayal is seen because it's comparable to eugenics, or in my earlier example to selling out... you're saying they're not good enough for you. But honestly, if you decide it's worth it, who are they to hypocritically now tell you what you can and can't do with your body, or what way you get to interact with society? Their outrage at their members 'turning their backs' and getting surgical repair is strange, maybe, if you don't understand that in a society which oppresses its minorities - and the disabled are a minority being oppressed by this sort of thing - their unity strengthens them. To have it challenged challenges their community.

    Ableist behavior and personal choice to be made more mainstream are not easily held up simultaneously; they're separate discussions on disability culture. One is discussing "is it okay to keep telling disabled people they're cripples?" and the other is the question "Is it socially acceptable to resent someone turning their back on what once gave them some identity and culture?"

    To the first: No.
    To the second: Tough call. I say no, again, but I can sympathize. I can't sympathize with the former.
    Last edited by Ramses; 02 Apr 2011 at 08:48 PM.

  7. #7
    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Ramses View post
    I really don't think that using mental disorders as the reason why ableism is okay is the most viable thing to do, Peeta.
    I most certainly did not say ableism is okay. I disagree with the overly reactionary definition commonly used.

    And I absolutely disagree that the disabled can't be given the association that a race would be for these examples; if you are born deaf, you are going to be a member of the deaf community... or you're going to be miserable. And the deaf community has outlets, games, entire school systems, built around them. If you are going to genuinely tell me that deaf people have no culture because it's an issue of some manner of impairment instead of because of the fact they, I don't know, ethnically all come from Insert Location Here, I think that's complete malarkey. Their community is strong, their community has a rich history, and within their community they're absolutely normal people.
    No, if you are born Deaf you may get a cochlear implant and never experience any disability, you may use hearing aids and be mainstreamed, you may be isolated, you may take part in multiple communities, or you may be part of the Deaf community alone. If you're born black, you are black. You have a cultural and genetic link to other blacks. A Deaf person only has an artifically created community, which has been made based on a shared hardship. There can be great beauty in that and there is history to it, but it's not the same thing as a racial identity. Blackness doesn't go away with a surgery. White couples don't spontaneously produce black babies. Blackness doesn't require special programs at school. Equating race and disability is an insult to both, because it ignores the unique characteristics of both.

    Sure, biologically there is. The baseline human body should be able to hear. It's hard to argue the scientific clarity that, yes, there is something abnormal here, and it would probably be beneficial to them to be normal. So what? That ship has sailed for the people we're talking about, mostly. They can't go back to normal, and they're here, are we supposed to shun them and humiliate them through verbage and pointed declaration that seems to continuously assert that they're DEAF PEOPLE and not PEOPLE? Because that is what this sort of language goes towards; shaming people who don't deserve it. Making it clear they're different.
    That's hardly what I said. The endless euphemism train that attempts to change language does very little to help, as it does nothing to change the underlying opinions and then it leaves well-meaning people uncomfortable and unsure about what they can say. Retarded becomes special becomes intellectually disabled becomes...? Because the underlying stigma remains, nothing has changed except for word games. No one should call someone a retard, or a gimp, or insult them unless they don't care about the words, but sitting around fussing about the words when the dehumanization behind them is the actual problem is a waste of energy.

    But as Zuul said above; because of the richness of some communities, yes, betrayal is seen because it's comparable to eugenics, or in my earlier example to selling out... you're saying they're not good enough for you. But honestly, if you decide it's worth it, who are they to hypocritically now tell you what you can and can't do with your body, or what way you get to interact with society? Their outrage at their members 'turning their backs' and getting surgical repair is strange, maybe, if you don't understand that in a society which oppresses its minorities - and the disabled are a minority being oppressed by this sort of thing - their unity strengthens them. To have it challenged challenges their community.
    I'm a mixed race, gay, mentally ill guy from a small Southern town. I can tell you quite honestly that they will all react to things differently depending on which group you're speaking of, their ages, where they are, their backgrounds, ad nauseum. You cannot sum them all up with "minorites do X."

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    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Ramses View post
    But as Zuul said above; because of the richness of some communities, yes, betrayal is seen because it's comparable to eugenics...
    I don't think it's comparable. I was just reporting that they view it that way. I think it's a pretty unhealthy way to view things, TBH. There are some good reasons for some people to not get a cochlear implant (it destroys any natural hearing that remains in that ear), but I don't think preserving Deaf identity is necessarily one of them.

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    Then I apologize for misconstruing.

    But eh. I think if you've learned to like the way you live, and it's nonstandard, it's not like it's hurting anyone for you to go on living that way. On the other hand, if you want to go mainstream, you've every right to - and if you seek to take yourself up on it, more power to you.

    It's a personal choice. But for those unable to make those choices, or choosing not to become more able, why should they be basically insulted for it?

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    Quote Originally posted by Peeta Mellark View post
    No, if you are born Deaf you may get a cochlear implant and never experience any disability, you may use hearing aids and be mainstreamed, you may be isolated, you may take part in multiple communities, or you may be part of the Deaf community alone. If you're born black, you are black. You have a cultural and genetic link to other blacks. A Deaf person only has an artifically created community, which has been made based on a shared hardship. There can be great beauty in that and there is history to it, but it's not the same thing as a racial identity. Blackness doesn't go away with a surgery. White couples don't spontaneously produce black babies. Blackness doesn't require special programs at school. Equating race and disability is an insult to both, because it ignores the unique characteristics of both.
    There are unique characteristics to most kinds of underprivileged situations. It doesn't make them not underprivileged just because they differ from each other. Yes, calling a deaf person a racial minority IS inaccurate; calling them, however, a minority from a disrespected community is a pretty decent blanket cover, which can cover other societal aspects suffered elsewhere by others in a way that allows for comparison. It even allows for comparison to things like how leaving the community to be accepted more mainstream can cause negative backlash that is often a little ridiculous, when it's an issue of personal choice and the community should support it - rather than just feel betrayed by the action, as you described as well. This reaction seems fairly comparable.

    Just because a few elements, elements used here, are able to be held up for comparison, does not mean the conditions of both are identical. Of course they aren't. All I stressed was that a culture doesn't need to be racially based for it to be valid. That it is another culture which is given very little respect, based on their commonalities. Commonalities that, yes, if we pick apart, do make them distinct from each other because no, it isn't based on skin color or genetics. I actually argue that skin color has little to do with culture and more to do with incurred prejudices and grouping mentalities, and that you're the culture you grow up in regardless of skin... but that's an entirely different rant we could have. Deaf culture is a very real and powerful thing, and it doesn't mainstream very well. Largely because of the way mainstream culture just doesn't get it.

    The endless euphemism train that attempts to change language does very little to help, as it does nothing to change the underlying opinions and then it leaves well-meaning people uncomfortable and unsure about what they can say. Retarded becomes special becomes intellectually disabled becomes...? Because the underlying stigma remains, nothing has changed except for word games. No one should call someone a retard, or a gimp, or insult them unless they don't care about the words, but sitting around fussing about the words when the dehumanization behind them is the actual problem is a waste of energy.
    I'm fine with basic terms. As long as there's no negative connotations. If someone means well, and they don't use "retarded" as slang for "bad", and try to treat someone with patience and understanding and like a normal person instead of as "less than", then they're pretty clear of this albeist insult. I absolutely abhor bandying for political correctness - what I bandy for is Not Being An Asshole To People Just Because They're Not Normal. It punishes people for things largely out of their control and is... well, pretty fucked. The ableist mentality of superiority due to physical or mental advantage being spread to a social standard? That's what I absolutely can not stand.

    I'm a mixed race, gay, mentally ill guy from a small Southern town. I can tell you quite honestly that they will all react to things differently depending on which group you're speaking of, their ages, where they are, their backgrounds, ad nauseum. You cannot sum them all up with "minorites do X."
    That's true. Unless x is "gets oppressed by majorities", in which case it has a pretty high chance of being a decent summary - and one that needs to stop. And no, not by endlessly twisting politically correct terms, until you end up having to call a space reserved at the grocer's front set aside for "A Person Who Happens To Appear Slightly Different Due To A Physical Or Mental Cause, With No Value Judgment Placed Upon It". There's definitely a point at which strangling ourselves with politeness misses the point of fair and equitable treatment and a need for a sweeping change in behavior, not thesauruses.

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    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Ramses View post
    I actually argue that skin color has little to do with culture and more to do with incurred prejudices and grouping mentalities, and that you're the culture you grow up in regardless of skin...
    This is a common view among white liberals who haven't really examined racial issues in depth. I remember being treated to a lot of this when Obama was running for president and white people would insist on identifying him as mixed race regardless of his own identification, or pointing out that since he was raised in white culture he was, culturally, white.

    This isn't how it works, as many people who have grown up like that can attest. I can't explain how race and culture intermingle to someone who has their racial blinders on. It's tiring and it's a discussion I've had far too many times to no avail. I'm not even sure how to teach someone that, short of making them live with mixed race families and watch the kids grow up and become encultured.

    Deaf culture is a very real and powerful thing, and it doesn't mainstream very well. Largely because of the way mainstream culture just doesn't get it.
    I don't question the validity of Deaf culture, as I've said before. I simply don't liken it to racial identity.

    The ableist mentality of superiority due to physical or mental advantage being spread to a social standard? That's what I absolutely can not stand.
    So are you against aborting potentially disabled fetuses, then? Genetic screening between couples to ensure they won't have damaging recessive traits match up? Surgical operations on young children so that they will not grow up disabled? Would you say that a couple who want to use IVF to only produce disabled children should be allowed to do so? The OP was about where the line of ableism is, not a dismissal of the rights of people with disabilities.

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    What do you call a dog with no legs?

    Doesn't matter, he won't come anyway.

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    Quote Originally posted by Peeta Mellark View post
    This is a common view among white liberals who haven't really examined racial issues in depth. I remember being treated to a lot of this when Obama was running for president and white people would insist on identifying him as mixed race regardless of his own identification, or pointing out that since he was raised in white culture he was, culturally, white.
    Well, that's me, a white liberal, who grew up in the opposite of the suburbs. And I absolutely agree that skin color matters. But it matters for grouping mentalities and incurred prejudices. Because if I decide to put on a suit, I get accepted with open arms into fancy bigoted white society Elk Lodges and so on; this is definitely something my friends from where I grew up couldn't do. Skin does matter for culture, as cultures are based on shared experience; but there are other elements to it. A black man from inner city Oakland is going to have a very distinctly different culture from one raised anywhere else. Culture is not defined by skin color.

    I guess I'll just keep my racial blinders on, because I am such a white liberal.

    So you against aborting potentially disabled fetuses, then? Genetic screening between couples to ensure they won't have damaging recessive traits match up? Surgical operations on young children so that they will not grow up disabled? Would you say that a couple who want to use IVF to only produce disabled children should be allowed to do so? The OP was about where the line of ableism is, not a dismissal of the rights of people with disabilities.
    Hell no. I in fact am going to school with the precise intention of becoming involved in personal genomics to ensure this sort of thing happens. I have no problem at all with trying to ensure healthy, functioning children. There's some other serious consequences to having these things become a social norm, but if you can have a child who can think coherently, isn't it your responsibility to give them the best opportunities you can?

    My issue is with the OP's points on things such as making your children not play with disabled children, using language to dismiss their identity as valuable people, so on. As I've stressed, my issue is with how disabled people are treated - not with preventing disability. Once the cat is out of the bag, you shouldn't punish the cat.

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    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Ramses, you might want to re-read the OP. Peeta is quoting a commonly accepted definition of ableism which is used and accepted by PWD. That quoted part is about what constitutes ableism, which is a negative thing. It's saying that it is bad to say a person who walks is better than one who rolls, it is bad to say a person who reads print is better than one who reads Braille, it is bad to say a child is better playing with the abled than the disabled. And I don't think anyone here, least of all Peeta, has argued against any of that.

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    Quote Originally posted by Zuul View post
    Ramses, you might want to re-read the OP. Peeta is quoting a commonly accepted definition of ableism which is used and accepted by PWD. That quoted part is about what constitutes ableism, which is a negative thing. It's saying that it is bad to say a person who walks is better than one who rolls, it is bad to say a person who reads print is better than one who reads Braille, it is bad to say a child is better playing with the abled than the disabled. And I don't think anyone here, least of all Peeta, has argued against any of that.
    I actually never thought anyone was for ableism when I responded. I was just going off about how much I hate it. I assumed Peeta's issue was with how far anti-ableism goes, not that ableism was good. They asked a series of questions which I answered. Up until I was informed I have racial blinders on and would be difficult to explain things to, I looked at this as a fairly pleasing discussion about where the line should be drawn when it comes to how society stands regarding disability.

    With slight tangents for what defines culture.

    I definitely don't think anyone is rallying for total oppression of the disabled.
    Last edited by Ramses; 03 Apr 2011 at 03:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally posted by Ramses View post
    I actually never thought anyone was for ableism when I responded. I was just going off about how much I hate it. I assumed Peeta's issue was with how far anti-ableism goes, not that ableism was good. They asked a series of questions which I answered. Up until I was informed I have racial blinders on and would be difficult to explain things to, I looked at this as a fairly pleasing discussion about where the line should be drawn when it comes to how society stands regarding disability.
    Trying to redefine race in a way that is at odds with how it is experienced by racial minorities would require "racial blinders", though. It's straight out of Derailing for Dummies. The experience of the kids I've seen who have physically taken after a non-white father and been raised by a single white mother back up the idea that your racial identity isn't simply the culture of your household or being subject to racism.

    In my niece's case, she has no ties to Chinese or Japanese culture at home. She's being raised by a white mother, with a white extended family. Her father and his family have nothing to do with her. However, even at seven years old she's already developing a racial identity and her appearance has an influence on it. The subtle differences of behavior toward a child of obvious Asian descent have an impact, as whites view her as "other", Asian Americans view her as someone who has something in common with them, and she tends to primarily befriend other children of color, perhaps because of shared experiences. She will look at and comment on the skin tone and features of people in ways my sister's other kids didn't, because those kids--being white and being raised in a white dominated society--have those racial blinders on. They don't need to see it, and so they don't. My niece's world demands that she see it and understand it. Based on her appearance, she's categorized a certain way, but because she's categorized a certain way the cultural experience she has is different. Race and culture can't be separated, and for someone who understands that in a very visceral way it's probably pretty frustrating to be told the opposite.

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    Race absolutely has an influence on your culture, and if I came across as saying otherwise, I apologize - but my issue is that race, or more particularly skin color, is an element of your culture rather than the defining element. If your niece was raised in China or Japan, she'd no doubt have a very different culture than she has in Wisconsin. Yeah, I guess I didn't stress that it is indeed a factor when I said "little to do with it" (incurring the blinders remark) - I did mean that it was an informing factor... I just think one's enculturation is defined by much more than just that.

    And I pointed out in that same sentence the biggest effect it has on a developing identity, which is ... again ... bigotry from external sources and shared-condition comradery. Your niece, because she is viewed as "other" by whites and seen as "similar" by Asian Americans, responds accordingly. It's not like because her genetic code tended her towards Asian features that she suddenly became culturally Asian American. She inclined that way because of visible differences and how people reacted to them. Yes, she is likely more aware of race than people who don't "have to be", but that doesn't mean she's culturally Chinese or Japanese.

    It takes a village to raise a child, yes. And so if they tend in that village towards those who appear similar to them, and thus develop their cultural identity based on those shared norms, they're going to reflect the norms they compared to in the village more than those instructed in their household, yes. However, the culture that they're being taught has so much more to do with it than the physical similarities. Even if that's somehow their "in", that's a very superficial level of anything, much less culture.

    Just look at how many variations of culture you can grow up in that have the same racial descriptive. Blacks across the world, Asians across the world, Hispanics across the world, Whites across the world... or even across the country... are going to have fundamentally different cultures from within their blanket racial descriptive. Just look at our "ask me about inserthere" threads on Mellophant. I'm white of primarily Irish ethnic ancestry. Do I have a single clue what Ireland is like? No. Totally clueless. Does my best friend Leah have any clue what Korea is like? No. She knows what it's like to grow up Asian in white America, though, while similarly not being from a homelife that is in any way Asian. She didn't reflect her very Dutch father very much either in appearance or attitudes by the time she was grown up, either; but she was definitely not someone fully enculturated in the Korean American culture, either. Culture isn't entirely, or even mostly, made up by racial physical characteristics.

    TL;DR - I don't argue that skin color and bone structure and other physical comparisons that comprise visible 'race' perceptions are an important element of many cultures. I argue that this is a very small part of a culture based on that race.

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    I think we've misunderstood one another here. I'm sorry, Ramses, I took your comment on culture as one regarding race. I agree that culture is going to differ within racial groups. Similarly, people with a shared cultural background but differing racial makeup may still feel solidarity.

    The experience of a light-skinned person like myself is very different from a dark-skinned person like my cousin, largely because of how people group us and what prejudices we face, even if our cultural background is largely the same. This is why I'm more likely to identify as mixed race or "essentially white-ish" and he's more likely to identify as black. But because I am often seen as white by people who don't know my family background, I've been witness to some nasty stupidity and condescension that people usually try to keep hidden. Sometimes I get a little knee jerk and see it where it wasn't intended.

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    Elephant Ramses's avatar
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    Very glad to hear there was some misunderstanding. Partially my fault; I don't think I was clear at first, because yes, I did try to sum up a BIG concept in short terms poorly just to relate it to something only tangentially connected. I should have done it with more care and I'm very sorry for frayed nerves.

    Quote Originally posted by Peeta Mellark View post
    But because I am often seen as white by people who don't know my family background, I've been witness to some nasty stupidity and condescension that people usually try to keep hidden
    Oh my God. Like I said, I'm grew up in the center Oakland, California. The only white friends I had were basically online. While I had some brushes with white-dominant society when I went to family reunions in Oregon or Michigan (depending on the side of the family), I had no concept of how bad other white people could be until I joined the Army.

    The shit bigoted white people say is insane. There's a joke that goes like this that describes it perfectly: "Do you know how all racist jokes start?" pause. "Look over your left shoulder... look over your right..."

    I remember this joke that made me want to go back in time and abort this guy Jeffries in the womb... I can't even bring myself to type it in a public forum. It's disgusting. The shit my race keeps hidden behind the left-shoulder right-shoulder is appalling... and is part of why I get so very offended when I feel grouped with those ignorant cretins, haha.

    re: the original point, though, summary - I'm sorry if I came off aggressively on it. But I never think it's okay to dismiss or ill treat someone for any reason, be it disability, mental issues (though they should be fixed if possible, yes), or race. And serious progression has been made to try to fix some of these, but disabled still get treated horrendously most of the time - if they're treated not as invisible, anyway. So I am anti-ableism. But yes, it can go too far, when your language is strangled by over-PCness that misses the point entirely or when you say it's good to have a disabled child. How is that responsible at all? Ridiculous. The responsible thing is to address the behavior of the language and attitudes not the words of it, or in the other case, to bring healthy children into the world.

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    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Ramses View post
    But yes, it can go too far, when your language is strangled by over-PCness that misses the point entirely or when you say it's good to have a disabled child. How is that responsible at all? Ridiculous. The responsible thing is to address the behavior of the language and attitudes not the words of it, or in the other case, to bring healthy children into the world.
    Having a disabled child is considered desirable by some people, notably at least one Deaf couple and some people on the autism spectrum, Disability by Design. When that story about the Deaf couple came out there was a lot of argument regarding it, and many people said to suggest they shouldn't selectively have Deaf children is comparable to genocide.

    Along the same lines, many advocates for the rights of people with disabilities feel that reproductive technologies aimed towards identifying genes associated with disabilities in order to avoid bringing more disabled children into the world is discriminatory and that Dr. Robert Edwards did not deserve a Nobel Prize because of this. And of course aborting disabled fetuses is eugenics by definition, but also seen as ableist.

    The identification of the human genome (entire genetic makeup of human beings) facilitates selective abortion based on ableism. Selective abortion is a contemporary form of eugenics. Societies that permit abortion for fetuses likely to be born disabled...invalidate the lives of disabled persons.
    What people hear in academic circles or in the popular press is usually from the mainstreaming, able-bodied and -minded point of view. So people can unwittingly walk into situations they had no idea were viewed as ableist, even when these things are widely understood in the PWD rights movement.

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    Elephant Ramses's avatar
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    See, I don't really have a problem with a touch of hypocrisy on this; if you have a disability, you should be treated like any other human being. There should not be any sort of disregard for your existence.

    However... I don't like the disability even if I like the disabled. There's as much not wrong in my point of view with medically resolving all human ailments and preventing suffering as there is wrong with mistreating those who have such ailments.

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    A Dude Peeta Mellark's avatar
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    Absolutely agreed, and this is where I largely run afoul of the movement. I am pro-people with disabilities, but I can't be pro-disability. That's one reason why I find likening PWD to racial groups troubling, because it does lead into genocide arguments when talking about preventing disabilities. Cultural respect and human dignity is a whole other ball game.

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