I have kids with serious physical special needs. I have one adult kid with an invisible disability. I am a woman. I was a single mother for years. I am gay. I have had to fight to keep my kids in the midst of postpartum depression and chronic C-PTSD flashbacks, have had to fight for over 17 years to have my kids treated as capable and equal, have had to fight to be treated with a modicum of respect by a patriarchal, conservative society that only recognizes the worth of a woman who has education, who has beauty, who ‘has’ a man.
I’m pretty well versed on the subject of rights.
Let me tell you one thing that I know beyond the shadow of a doubt. Every single right we all have was bought with blood, sweat and tears by someone, somewhere. At some point, someone had to put it all on the line (and yes, that often meant their very lives and the lives of their families) to win the rights we have. There are rights we think are untouchable, inherent, innate – but let me tell you, you’re wrong. The only reason you think that is because you’ve lived in a developed world for so long and you’ve lived that time with enough privilege to believe that you’re untouchable.
Unless you are a very rich white man, your rights are NOT fucking sacrosanct. Even then, you had better tow the line and keep the status quo.
The impermanence of rights is something vulnerable people like me and my kids are super familiar with. Our rights are constantly under attack so we never get around to coasting. Many people have never even achieved the rights they deserve.
I know you’re sick of it, but look at what the head of the American empire is doing. 45 has been stripping rights since the moment he stepped into the Oval Office. He is literally shipping people out of his country, refusing admittance, tossing people out of the military, encouraging police brutality, muzzling the press, sieging affordable health care, throwing the great US of A back to the days where only cis white males mattered. Making America ‘great’ again. Making America the home of the capable, rich and white. Again.
Right now, there are PWDs pushing through their own pain and fatigue to go out every day and fight for their rights. There are people in positions of power putting their jobs and reputations on the line to fight 45’s random grudges. There are transgender people and immigrants putting their very lives on the line to just simply breathe the same air as their fellow Americans. There are children mourning the loss of parents shipped away in the middle of the night, adults being told they don’t qualify to stay in the only country they’ve ever known, POC dying daily as the target of fearful and rage happy police officers, women being forced to carry children they don’t want and can’t afford, on and on. Even in my country, where we enjoy a lot of freedom still and receive refugees, the vitriol spilling out of the White House to the south is finding a public, political foothold. Serious hate crimes are on the rise. It’s no longer socially taboo to express hatred towards marginalized peoples and to support the cause of the alt-right white male.
So let me tell you one further thing. Things are bad and only getting worse. Those of us who have the most to lose have seen this coming for some time and a part of our spirits and hearts were crushed the day that Mr. Take-What-I-Want Trump ascended to the highest office in the free world. For many, it was a confusing moment in time, but not for us. We have been battling his ilk every day we’ve been alive. Every time we sat in a medical office being told we were defective, every time we were laughed at and dismissed by those in authority, every time we were groped and gaslighted, every time we couldn’t access the care and support we needed, every time one of our children was left behind a locked door they couldn’t open. Every time they looked at the color of our skin before they decided how to treat us. Every time we were intimidated, harassed, every time we got the ‘once over’ look that determined our worth.
Every single time they lied to our faces and stabbed us in the back.
Every time they told us we could do without.
Every time we burnt out.
Every time we got sick.
Every time one of us fell to addiction, serious illness or violence.
You weren’t paying attention when we told you then, if you heard us at all. Just like now, you told yourselves it was a sad state of affairs but had nothing to do with you.
So here’s an overdue wake up call for you. When they come for you and everyone they came for before has fallen, who will help you? Are you really willing to take that risk so you don’t have to stand up and be counted for human rights?
Disabled rights are human rights.
Immigrant rights are human rights.
Women’s rights are human rights.
POC rights are human rights.
Transgender rights are human rights.
Children’s rights are human rights.
RIGHTS ARE RIGHTS.
Are you really going to live your life with blinders on and hope you’re never targeted, or are you going to help stop this shit before it gets to your door?
What kind of human being ARE you?