I have been back in Zimbabwe for 8 months now (well it will be 8 months on the 2nd of June) and one thing I know without a shadow of doubt is that I miss Melbourne so much. Zimbabwe is home, I was born and breed here, my family is here, my childhood memories are here. I can never change that. However I have to say being back in Zim as an adult has been so CHALLENGING for this one reason, the rampant ableism in the black community.
Wow yes can we actually discuss how ABLEIST black people are? Can we PLEASE discuss how black people are oppressive towards black people with disabilities? Can we discuss how every other minority issue is advocated for in the black community except disability rights? Can we just for once be real about the oppression that black people with disabilities face?
When I lived in Australia, I always found it easier to deal with racism than it was to deal with ableism in the black community. please do not under any circumstances take this as me condoning racism. Racism is an oppressive system and daily we see how it affects black people all over the world, I can never support that. Let me clarify what I mean by it is easier to deal with racism than it is to deal with ableism in the black community.
With racism I know if anything happens, there will be collective outrage and solidarity offered. Everyone in the black community will come out guns blazing condemning the racist act. People will demand the racist be named and shamed. The racist might even apologize and try to understand why their actions were racist. However with ableism in the black community well…it’s often justified and encouraged under the guise of “everyone is entitled to their opinion.” As a disabled black person, you will sit there and tell your fellow countrymen what they just said is offensive and they will argue that it is not because it is their opinion. Or my absolute fav because they know you so therefore they can’t be ableist. I recall a few months ago being told by family and friends that disability rights are not important issue to consider when it comes to voting because what’s important is bread and butter issues, there were other “bigger” issues to worry about.
I have come to a point where I no longer have the energy to point out people’s ableism because it is exhausting extremely exhausting how time and time again ableism is justified in the black community. When you point out ableism in the black community, you are made to feel like you are the unreasonable one for stating how something is offensive and for expressing how oppressive ableism is. You are labelled angry for taking offensive at ableist comments or jokes. Your lived experience is invalidated. You are not given a seat at the table because now is not the time to discuss disability rights. You watch your people talk about every minority issue under the sun except for disability issues. You ask yourself at what point will my life matter in the black community?
I guess I have made peace with the fact that as long as we don’t have honest conversations about this double standard and as long as able bodied people do not want to take correction, ableism in the black community will always be a thing.
If you have time check out this Twitter thread discussing ableism in the black community.