Life

You Don’t Get To Decide What Is Offensive.

Some people need to understand that my lived experience of my disability outweighs whatever opinion you may have of my disability. You don’t get to decide what is offensive and what isn’t all in the name of stating your opinion. If I tell you something is offensive then it IS offensive. NO justification. What’s crazy is how some black folk are quick to pounce on white people for racist offensive remarks but they will justify their offensive opinions about disability issues. We can’t even have meaningful dialogue about disability issues cause some think their opinions matter more than someone’s lived experience. Man take a seat and GERRARA HERE !!!!!

Some folk need to understand this simple principle, when it comes to my disability you don’t get to decide what is offensive and what isn’t.

Ok let me back track a little and explain the context of this rant. A few days ago on Friday night, I came across a Twitter conversation that pissed me off. Person 1 posted something along the lines of “yesterday a blind man graduated with a Masters degree what’s your excuse?” Person 2 says people with visual impairments might find that offensive. Person 3 chimes in and says there’s nothing offensive about that cause it’s inspirational. Person 4 then says I am legally blind and I am offended by that tweet and my disability is not your inspiration. Person 1 and 3 then went on to justify how saying that wasn’t offensive, arguing with Person 4 a person who actually has a disability. I stopped reading when Person 1 said something along the lines of I don’t think what I said is offensive.

WOW I sat there in disbelief. I honestly could not believe what I had just read.

Bottom line is those without disabilities were telling the person with a LIVED EXPERIENCE that what they had said was not offensive thereby discrediting the person’s lived experience. In essence what they said was “I don’t care what your lived experience is, I don’t care that you have a disability and you find this offensive, this is my opinion and I’m sticking to it.”

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I don’t know for the life of me what gives some people without disabilities the impression that it is ok to state an offensive opinion about disability issues and then go on to justify saying that’s my opinion cause IT IS NOT OK. Yes that is your opinion but you need to recognize that your opinion is offensive. How on earth can you even believe that your opinion outweighs my lived experience of my disability? Who died and made you the authority on disability issues when not a single day you have NEVER walked a mile in my shoes to know what it feels like to have a disability? I mean caaaman take a seat please!

Such people are the reason why people with disabilities we are the most marginalized minority group in the world. Why because they think their opinion of disability issues is far more important than a person’s lived experience. They are the sort of people who will make decisions for a person with a disability without even consulting them. Often people come to me with “empowerment ideas” for people with disabilities in Zimbabwe and I turn them down then the person gets upset when I explain to them that their idea is an opinion of what they think people with disabilities in Zimbabwe need and they can’t do that without consulting them.

Man this is exhausting and I can’t believe that in 2015 we people with disabilities are still having to explain this simple principle. I know and accept that everyone is entitled to their opinion but if your opinion of my disability is offensive, you need to apologize and respect that I don’t like what you said otherwise YOU become part of the problem and not the solution.

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10 thoughts on “You Don’t Get To Decide What Is Offensive.”

  1. What I wish I could say to person 1… Dear person 1, you may not have intended to offend but once people feel offended then an apology is in order. Even if we take it out of the context of disability, Its just like say “A black girl/guy got her master’s what is your excuse?”, Do you see how wrong that sounds? Hopefully this is a lesson learnt.
    Great passionate writing Colleen. Love it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a wonderful achievement Colleen for this blind man, Wow his Masters degree, others who have no disabilities sometimes give up.

    With having Dyslexia as a child, I gave up and played up, until a Teacher in High School encouraged me to excel, so than from being the Dummy of the School I was first in my Year and would have been Dux of the School too but my Maths was so bad and still is I even thought I was a year older until I was corrected recently.

    I also have disabled feet now and can’t walk very far but I focus on what I can do not what I can’t. A few days ago although it took me many hours with having to sit down when needed, I cleaned the whole house in a few days and that was after having a heart attack the month before, I prayed and then just kept going until I had finished cleaning, you can be sure I was Thankful to God and proud of my achievement too.

    Blessings – Anne.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is so true! Lived experience most definitely does outweigh opinion hands down! I cannot believe those idiots on Twitter would try to state otherwise. Not only is that offensive but its shows a lack of compassion. Smh. Those types of pictures don’t inspire me anyway bc the tone is of a comparing nature which isn’t encouraging to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my goodness you summed it up right here, it happens all the time and for the person with the lived experience it is annoying…we have somehow in the name of sounding smart with our opinions given ourselves permission to feel and think on behalf of others as if they cannot feel and think on their behalf and when they form an opinion on their actual experience we feel that our opinion should outweigh theirs it happens all the time with disability, tribalism, race issues etc. Plus I learnt a new phrase Gerarara here, my friend laughed at me for not knowing it but I believe they really should Gerarara here

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ijoo Colleen I am so slow with the modern lingo, don’t have you tube and the moment but I shall educate myself, My Afrikan-ness its at steak. But you don’t know anything, I have been misusing the word now that I know…

        Liked by 1 person

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