There is a place we go to every time we go to a National Action. It is not a physical place, but rather a place within ourselves where the candle of human dignity burns at its brightest and the pursuit of choice drives us to remarkable outcomes. We access this place all across the country where justice has been denied, and it is within this place where we the people demonstrate our power.
When we arrive at this place, we are fueled in equal parts by love and rage.
The rage is for the inequities in our society. The love is for ourselves, the person next to us, those we left behind, our communities now, those who come after us, and even the people who have no idea (yet) about the struggle for independence that people with disabilities face daily.
Many might think it is a tragedy to acquire or be diagnosed with a disability; it isn’t. The tragedy is when we are denied our civil rights, our dignity and our right to choice. This is what fuels our righteous efforts.
In ADAPT, we strive to promote this energy and this love. Finding the imperfect balance between love and rage is not easy. Making sure that space is accessible for everyone (in all senses of the word) isn’t easy. Challenging ourselves to be so radically inclusive isn’t always easy. It takes work to make space for people who we don’t yet know or for people whose experiences we might not yet think of clearly identifying as disabled. It is, however, necessary.
In ADAPT, we strive to advance beyond “mere tolerance”, where tolerance might be defined as a mere acknowledgement of someone’s right to exist but may not require more effort than that.
Indeed, we dismiss tolerance – it is lacking, it is empty, it is not enough. Instead we argue for embrace. We advocate for embracing disability, demonstrating a willingness to open up, literally and figuratively – to share space with others in intimate ways, allowing for the real experiences of friction, conflict and even hurt with the hope it will result in healing, joy and love. To recognize that disability may be identifiable or not, may be different today than tomorrow, and may have been different yesterday than it is today, and to stretch the embrace to accompany these multiple, varied, fluid experiences of disability.
In ADAPT, we respect people’s right to wear any type of clothing associated with a person’s religious, ethnic or cultural background. We don’t assign gender and we honor the ways in which people present and identify themselves. We condemn speech or ideas that are meant to incite or invite violence. We don’t condone language that denies rights to others, especially the rights to self-determination.
Rather, ADAPT strives to promote an embrace of the differences among us, our similar struggles and our shared efforts to shake free those institutions that bind us physically, socially and mentally. An injury to one is an injury to all. As such, while ADAPT hopes all people will join us at the place of rage and love, we don’t support those who do not acknowledge each other through love for one another and rage against the systems that oppress us at many different levels and intersections of identity. We know our struggle includes and requires the power of all of our friends of all religions and beliefs, gender identities, sexual orientations, skin colors, ethnicities, spoken languages and nationalities. After all, none of us are free while even one of us is chained.
In ADAPT, we recognize that the limited writing about our Disability Rights Movement has focused almost exclusively on the work of white men, ignoring the coalitional realities of this work and taking credit away from women, people of color, queer people, and those whose disabilities might not be readily identifiable who have put their bodies on the line and those who provided leadership to a young movement.
This must change.
We strive to recognize the labor and sacrifice of diverse siblings from across the spectrum of the human experience in our movement. There is room in our Movement for abilities and disabilities, apparent and hidden, of all types. We’re unafraid to look in the mirror and reflect on what we need to do better, always, and that our efforts are part of a process of growing, emerging, becoming more just – but that justice requires listening, growing, learning together.
In ADAPT, we remember our fallen heroes and honor the ADAPT gods who bring us back home from an action safely and with success so we can do it again in six months.
In ADAPT, we’re pissed off and passionate. We’re also conscious of a need to do better, always, and that our efforts will not always result in what we strive for but yet we will always persist toward perfection anyway.
In ADAPT, we begin our journey at the place of rage and love and we’re really glad you’re here with us.
With Love and Rage in Our Hearts,
The Nation of ADAPT Community