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Day 2: Kujichagulia, Disabled-ly

Day 2: Kujichagulia, Disabled-ly

Habari Gani? Kujichagulia, disabledly.

Kujichagulia means “Self-determination”.  Day 2 of Kwanzaa is probably always been my favorite day.  When I was little, it was because I liked saying the name. Kujichagulia.  I felt so smart being able to pronounce what I thought was a hard word (don’t judge me).  As I got older, I really began to appreciate the actual meaning. Self-determination: Speaking and thinking for ourselves. Determining, for ourselves who we are, what we want, what we stand for. Agency. Autonomy.

And oh boy! Don’t we, as disabled people embody that ideal, or the want of it. Historically, we aren’t given the space to be as independent as we can be.  We aren’t given the room to speak for ourselves.  All to often we are spoken for and spoken over by non-disabled people.  Online, on the ground, it doesn’t matter. Ever go out to eat with a non-disabled friend/partner? Ever notice the waiter speaks to your friend but wants to know what you’re having?  What about at the doctor’s office?  I know there have been several times my partner accompanied me and the staff directed all questions about ME to HIM!!

It’s more than just that. It might be determining our career paths. Apparently, we aren’t supposed to have any.  Determining our love lives…we aren’t supposed to have any. Things as simple as having social lives and interactions. Nope! Not supposed to have any.  If we were in court right now, I’d say “Objection! Assuming facts not in evidence”. In other words, society’s assumption that we lack agency, autonomy, self-determination is based on absolutely nothing but ableist ideals.  And I reject it.

When you’re disabled, somehow that means you automatically lack the ability to be your own person and make your own decisions. Well, at least from what I have observed.  Maybe you experienced something different? Comment below and tell us what Kujichagulia (Self-determination) looks like for you.


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