Stares? Yep. No big deal.
Glares? Yep. No big deal.
Being ignored, pushed aside? Annoying, frustrating ... but I can cope.
But hatred. Right out, down deep, fear of violence hatred, that's a different story. On Friday of last weekend I had an encounter with a young man just outside a store where I had shopped. Joe had pulled the car up close to the door (without blocking it) because it was snowy and icy and difficult to maneuver the chair. As I was getting in he came out and began acting in a very hostile, hateful manner. As he advanced towards me, he scared me. I thought he was going to hurt me. It takes a lot to scare me, but he did.
His face did.
His body did.
His hands, which flexed and tightened into white fists, did.
I backed down fast. Knowing animal psychology I didn't look him in the eye. I didn't want that kind of contact, I didn't want to see what was at the back of his eyes, I didn't want to spur him on. I apologized, though I believed I had done nothing wrong. I just wanted to settle him down, get him to back off. He spouted how we 'disabled people' took advantage of our disability, how we used our disability to trample the rights of others, how we saw ourselves as the exception to every rule. He was spitting mad.
After I had backed down, he slowed down, then stopped his advance. He was close enough that I could smell his cologne, see the sweat on his neck and feel the strength of his presence. Then, thankfully, he backed away. On the way back into the store he looked back at me and said "******* cripple"
I had never been called that word by another before. I've called myself that, always jokingly, I have heard other disabled people use it, always with a wink. But I'd never heard it this way before. A term spat out. Hate curled around the letters and the word for the first time hurt. Really hurt.
I don't know that I can use that word, ever again.
I don't know that I can joke like that, again, when I've heard the word spoken with hatred.
Do I let him take this from me? Or do I give it willingly? Or will a day or two change my mind.
I don't know.
I'm curious, those of you who use the word 'cripple' ... why? Those of you who don't ... why not?
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