July is Disability Pride Month. Disability Pride is something I haven’t felt all of my life. Growing up, I went through years of self-hatred. I always wanted to fit in with my peers in school. Cerebral Palsy made fitting in a challenge when I was young. I wanted to go to parties, play sports, and get my driver’s license.
With time, I’ve learned to become more comfortable with my disability. I no longer want to fit in with my peers. My friends and family take my disability in stride.
Cerebral Palsy does present challenges as an adult, though. My disability has made it extremely difficult to find work. Typically, employers are no longer interested in hiring me once I disclose my disability. I’ve never been ashamed of my disability. Cerebral Palsy is a part of my identity. I’ve had CP my entire life. It’s not going to go away. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a job in the future.
Disabled people don’t have equal rights in America. Many states still allow for the sterilization of disabled women. Furthermore, many disabled people who rely on government programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are still unable to marry without their benefits being reduced or taken away entirely.
As aforementioned, it can be difficult for disabled people to find work. Employed disabled people sometimes make less than minimum wage when working in sheltered workshops. For those working in these settings, the average hourly pay is only $3.34. Subminimum wage is fully legal because, since 1938, certain people with disabilities have been permitted to be paid less than the minimum wage under American labor law. During the Great Depression, this rule was created to encourage more people to obtain employment.
Being comfortable with my disability has taken a long time. I love my disabled life. The disability community is full of amazing people. I am proud to be a part of the disabled community. We never stopped fighting for our rights, and we can’t stop now.
Antonios, Nathalie, and Christina Raup. “Buck v. Bell (1927).” The Embryo Project Encyclopedia, Arizona State University, 1 Jan. 2012, embryo.asu.edu/pages/buck-v-bell-1927.
Star, Eryn. “Marriage Equality Is Still Not a Reality: Disabled People and the Right to Marry.” Advocacy Monitor, National Council on Independent Living, 14 Nov. 2019, advocacymonitor.com/marriage-equality-is-still-not-a-reality-disabled-people-and-the-right-to-marry/.
Selyukh, Alina. “Workers with Disabilities Can Earn JUST $3.34 an HOUR. Agency Says Law Needs Change.” NPR, NPR, 17 Sept. 2020, http://www.npr.org/2020/09/17/912840482/u-s-agency-urges-end-to-below-minimum-wage-for-workers-with-disabilities.