Showing Up
by Shannon Aronin on January 26th, 2017

​While I’ve alluded to my own demons in the past, right now I am ready to be more specific. I have been fighting depression for a few months now. I’m fighting like hell, and I’m winning, but it is slow work and oh so hard. While genetics and seratonin are at play, the current political climate is not helping. I see many of my friends struggling as well -- from helplessness, the heavy weight of activism, the challenge of becoming woke, the frustration with those of us not yet woke enough... Right now I see a lot of people woke as hell though that could use a nap.

Self-care is a common theme in these circles. There is a mass call for sustained vigilance. The reality is that the hits from this administration keep coming so hard and so fast, each action is chipping away at my spirit bit by bit. It’s like watching my heart break in slow motion. I’m preparing for this weekend to take another reprieve from the news and social media, my second since the election. The last time I did it I realized that like sports, the news is not impacted by my awareness and taking breaks allows me to catch my breath.

Even as I timidly share what can be used against me as a weakness, I am aware of risk to my gentle soul. Here’s the thing about snowflakes - besides being uniquely beautiful, when we come together we can make an avalanche. That’s what the Women’s March, which I am so glad I was a part of in Los Angeles, set into motion. So we will call. And we will write. And we will march, march, march.

My audience is the disability community. I’ve been learning a lot about the intersection of all the ways we can have privilege or not. Martin Luther King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We need to show up for each other because there is only strength in numbers. Our causes are intertwined. For example, 50% of all people shot by the police have some kind of disability. Twenty percent of people have a disability so this is an unreasonable representation. Who else is unfairly targeted by police? People of color, specifically Black people. We should be at their marches. Who is victimized by bullies? People with disabilities certainly are. Who else? The LGBTQ community comes to mind. We need to show up for our brothers and sisters. Taking healthcare options from women will pave the road for removing future disability services. And that’s just at the federal level; thirty-two Republican controlled state houses are passing ever more shocking legislation day by day.

We are under attack on so many fronts. Medicaid is at significant risk, as are any and all disability services. Health insurance is a nightmare. And we are presently waiting to see if we will have a new Secretary of Education who understands the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. If we don’t show up for our neighbors they will not show up for us. The art of protest has never been so important in our lifetimes. We need to show these politicians that the people are hard to control. And lest ye forget how powerful our voices are, because the power of the people is still greater than the people in power, remember that it was the Capital Crawl protest of 1,000 individuals with disabilities that secured sweeping civil rights via the ADA in 1990. Remember the brave folks who came before us and don’t let those currently in power dismantle what was worked so hard for. Do take breaks and step away from the chaos of the world that flashes across our screens, but then get back to the hard work. And never forget 8 year old little Jennifer Keelan, who famously got out of her wheelchair and proclaimed, while crawling to reach the top of the Capitol steps in search of equal civil rights, “I’ll take all night if I have to.”

The Resistance is Here. Save the Protester, Save the World.
Jennifer Keelan, age 8, determined to climb the Capitol steps in 1990 as activists sought and achieved the passage of the ADA. This picture, and her bravery, played a significant role in securing civil rights for people with disabilities. It mattered.

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