Discrimination still a reality

I work in the human services industry and I work closely with people with disabilities, most of whom are often marginalised.

I support a gentlemen; “George” to a choir. As this choir is relatively welcoming, it attracts other people with disabilities to join in. One particular lady; “Anne” comes with a support person, “Diane”, George and I see them often and would often exchange pleasantries.

Today, as we usually do, George and I were at the choir when Anne and Diane arrived; as there was no space elsewhere, they came to sit with us. Just before settling in, Diane stated that Anne does not like other people in wheelchairs as they scare her.

I work with people because I believe that everyone should be included in the community and be treated like anyone else. And no one should be subjected to discrimination based on race, gender, culture, etc- by anyone.

I was shocked by the statement made by the support person. How is it ok to condone and enable another person to discriminate others?

I was gobsmacked, I couldn’t actually verbally acknowledge her statement. I certainly do not agree.

If ‘regular folks’ are frowned upon such views, then shouldn’t people like Anne and Diane be frowned upon too? Why should there be a double standard?

Professionally, I do not understand how the support person accepted this view and not help Anne work through it- perhaps there is a deeper issue, a negative personal experience that made her apprehensive.

What are your thoughts on this?

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4 thoughts on “Discrimination still a reality

  1. Nick Thomas says:

    I’m gonna go ahead and assume that Anne is a supportee and Di is the supporter?
    Perhaps it’s something they’re working on but time and gradual exposure such as enjoying a movie or show while sitting next to a person in a wheel chair is what will bring her around.
    Also possibly difficult to work through a statement like that as the show is about to start =)
    Just being devils advocate here while there’s not enough information to make a judgement (not that I should really be making judgements)
    And yes, to the possibilty of deeper personal experience. Is Anne endowed with all her mental faculties still?

    1. minwest says:

      Hi Nick,

      You raise a good point!
      I don’t think I’ve painted the context very well, Choir in the post refers to choir practice. George has been attending practice for over 2 years and Anne just about the same time too.
      Perhaps I assumed that due to familiarity, Diane was not going to make s statement on Anne’s behalf. At no point yesterday did Anne state explicitly that she did not want to sit near George.
      I think this is a complex issue and I suppose my point with this post was to draw attention to moments like this are still a reality 🙂
      I’m glad you commented!!!

  2. wrappers2013 says:

    I think it’s great that you’ve posted this, because it can be seen from both sides – I am a wheelchair user myself, so do fully appreciate it when someone highlights these things

    As you said, the support worker could have gently tried to bring it into the conversation with her client, that we all have to accept each other, no matter what disabilities people have got or which assisted aids they use

    Although, if the person was quite set in their ways, I should imagine it was possibly difficult to actually SAY anything, we all have to put ourselves in the support workers shoes, to understand there are many different variables that could have made her, just let it go over her head

    Personally, I’m a bit of a wheelchair ‘perv’, as soon as I see one, I’m checking out the components used in the make-up of the chair, especially if it’s a manually propelled one…

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