“I am a person with a disability.” I believe that this is the first time I have ever written this sentence. I just finished a post explaining the Americans with Disabilities Act–and realized that it was littered with personal possessives: “we” “our people” “us” “our.” I have been organizing for disability rights for a little less than a year and I was worried some might feel I was inappropriately identifying myself with others in the disability rights movement. I am not trying to appropriate another’s culture. I not only organize for disability rights, I am disabled and benefit from increased rights for people with disabilities. Continue reading “Owning My Disability”
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, popularly referred to as the ADA. The ADA is a companion to the landmark Civil Rights Acts passed in the 1960’s that outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex and national origin. The ADA prevents discrimination against people with disabilities in a wide range of activities and mandates that many private and all public services should be made accessible.
When the ADA was passed, it set its sights on several key areas of our society where people with disabilities faced discrimination and isolation. The law was drafted to cover the actions of employers, government agencies, providers of public transportation, telecommunication companies and the owners of any accommodations open to the general public.
I could write incessantly about Syracuse University and its problems with an out-of-control athletic department and an academic system too afraid to complain about their excesses–but then we have syracuse.com and its blanket coverage for that. (I’m still holding out for a “Fab Melo–where is he now?” article!)
I just want to say that I was both heartened and horrified by the message sent by Syracuse U. Chancellor Kent Syverud in a talk to more than 100 faculty members on March 16th. I was heartened because the administration realizes the seriousness of the academic fraud perpetrated by the University in the case of the Fab Melo grade change incident. I was horrified to learn just how fearful the academic faculty is of the athletic department. Continue reading “Syracuse U. & NCAA Sanctions: Tales From The Break Room”
One of my oldest friends and I regularly correspond about our Syracuse University basketball fanaticism. We both grew up during the emergence of the Cuse: starting as a small-time program with unheralded recruits and a middling record–to the national power-NCAA tourney-TV exposure juggernaut we root for today. Randy has moved out to Cali, but his allegiance has never dimmed.
Yeah, I’m not going to watch the Super Bowl this weekend. I have no rooting interest, the halftime show is pop drivel and I’m not a fan of the untrammeled capitalism that actually has made a separate sport out of watching (and rating) the commercials.
But let’s get down to brass tacks. It’s not just the Super Bowl. Football is a stain on American life. Football is popular because it works well on television, has the constant stops and starts that feeds our ADHD culture and it lends itself so easily to gambling. Football promotes a culture of violence, mindless conservative patriotism and corporate avarice. The league and its team owners revel in its success in breaking the players union–all the while it has refused to seriously address the horrible brain trauma and disability that the sport inflicts on the players–coincidence? I think not.
While attending a meeting of a coalition of groups that have been working together for about two years to improve the health and safety of the neighborhoods in the city of Syracuse, I was confronted with the quote you see above, the meeting facilitator had printed it out on a big sheet of newsprint hanging from the easel at the front of the room:
It’s been a year of change here at “Still Racing . . .” After twenty years, I left my position as a community organizer with Syracuse United Neighbors. I have taken a new job as an advocate for disability rights with ARISE–a center for independent living (CIL) here in Syracuse. There are 37 CIL’s in NY State and their mission is to help persons with disabilities live independent lives in the community–rather than being forced to live in institutional settings such as nursing homes.
The scale is different. SUN is a small grassroots group with two employees and an annual budget of $150,000. ARISE is a sprawling social service provider with over 700 employees and a budget over $15 million. The atmosphere is more corporate–I have a cubicle, a name tag, I sign in and out of our building. I am no longer salaried, I am an hourly worker. Continue reading “Still Organizing In The Street”