Ableism in Atheism Anonymous #6
Do you consider yourself to be a person with a disability?
Have you (or do you personally know someone who has) felt out-of-place or limited your involvement with an atheist community because of disability-related situations?
What steps could atheist communities take to become more inclusive?
I think wheelchair access would be a big one, but what do you mean by “able-ist?” Stuff like “We can’t run from these problems?” If that’s the problem, some people are just way too sensitive. Wheelchair access is about the only thing I can think of.
Any other thoughts about ableism and atheism?
I would think they were independent events, so about the same percentage of atheists are disabled as within other groups. Seriously though, what the heck is “able-ism?”
The above has been response #6 from the Ableism in Atheism survey.
It is a common response that people say “you’re way too sensitive” when regarding issues of accessibility to atheist events. Notice how this person self-identifies as not having a disability, and in fact doesn’t even know what ableism is. This is what’s known as “able-bodied privilege“. Privilege is essentially the ability to benefit from having all of society tailored to you and people like you, without your participation even being required for that to happen. In other words, through no fault of hir own other than the accident hir birth and life, this person is able to go through life not knowing how difficult life is for people with disabilities. Does that mean that people with disabilities are “too sensitive” in demanding accommodations? By no means! They simply are stating their particular needs from their particular perspective. Everyone has a right to do that.
As far as “what the heck is ‘able-ism’?” goes, this person is doing ableism. Telling someone that their reasonable requests to assess and assert the need for accessibility are “too sensitive” is ableism. It is normal and healthy for people to say what they need when they need it. As social creatures, we need to be able to form communities with people who make us feel safe and welcome. As a humanist, it is in my interest to find out how I can cast a wider net, so to speak, in reaching out to others in forming a sense of humanist community with others. Thus, it is also in my best interest as a humanist to “search and destroy” ableist attitudes within my mind. I hope that the people reading this post can take it upon themselves to do so as well.