Hey World, you’ve got a day dedicated to my disability! I’ll bet you didn’t even know it. Aw, shucks. Aren’t we special? Green ribbons and medical model mumbo jumbo aside, is this really our day? Now, if only I could have gotten my lazy crippled ass out of bed to join National ADAPT in taking to the DC streets to protest the government shutdown today. What better way to start the day than with my hips burning at the crack of noon? For all seventeen million of us, every day is World Cerebral Palsy Day. We don’t live with our disability, we live it. Each of us needs a radical reassessment of what it means to have CP. Is it a painful thing which sometimes prevents us from doing some of the things we love? Yes. Do we wish things were different? Yes. Do we need a cure? No.
Efforts to cure Cerebral Palsy are some of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. They’re usually spearheaded by well-meaning, but misguided able-bodied people who see it as their duty to end the suffering of poor diseased kids in wheelchairs. I have news for those people, most of us aren’t kids and CP is not a disease. It is not progressive or communicable, and we’d prefer that you not treat it like it is. What would a world without Cerebral Palsy look like? I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say it would look very white and upper class. Those who would be able to afford a cure would get it and those who wouldn’t would still be the limping, grimy gimps every able-bodied savior loves to fawn over. After all, once you’ve eradicated a “disease,” what’s left to make money on?
The idea of singling today out as World CP Day is a bit strange. It’s not like all seventeen million of us forgot we had it. Nor did our relatives and caretakers, who range from supportive friends to abhorrently abusive* figures. Nobody has any special connection to October 2nd. Unless it’s some lucky ceep’s birthday or anniversary, in which case, Mazel Tov to them. The world isn’t going to be changed by a minute-long submission for a new app or gadget, it’s going to change when those of us with CP assert ourselves across the boundaries of race, class, gender, and sexuality and tell the world that we’re here to stay.
*If you have been abused, neglected, or sexually assaulted by a parent or caretaker, TELL SOMEONE. You are not alone, there are too many of us with CP who’ve been abused and don’t know to talk about it. Let’s start now.