Man who now uses a wheelchair explains ableism, and it's a must-read for us all

People who are able-bodied aren't always aware of the daily realities of people who live with disabilities. Unless someone moves through life in a body that works differently, or lives with someone who does, how could they?

Unfortunately, that lack of awareness is too often paired with assumptions, judgments, and attitudes about disabled bodies that cause harm. A man who grew up able-bodied and now uses a wheelchair explained in a Facebook post shared by Disabled Magazine how ableism—discrimination in favor of able-bodied people—manifests in subtle ways.


Carson Tueller shared two photos of himself—one where he was standing, and one six years later with him in a wheelchair. He didn't share in his post why he's in a wheelchair, other than he had an injury, because it doesn't matter. The point of the post isn't his disability, but rather the tendency for fully abled bodies to be held up as ideal while every other body is seen as defective.

RELATED: #AbledsAreWeird offers a brilliant taste of the everyday crap people with disabilities deal with.

For some, the idea that able bodies aren't ideal might feel challenging. ("Of course fully able bodies are ideal! Isn't that just the reality?") But as Tueller points out, "A body with more function is not better than a body with less function."

Tueller wrote:

"So, what happened to you?"
.
"Why the chair, man?"
.
"So, like, were you born this way?"
.
When I was newly injured, I was shocked at how bluntly I was asked such personal questions about my body. I slowly realized that people saw my body as a deviation from a norm, and they wanted to know how my body became the way it was.
.
I used to be agitated by this. I would stick out my hand, say, "Hi, I'm Carson", give a patronizing smile, and leave. Now, I'm much more patient because I understand what is at the core of the questions:
.
It's ableism.
.
I don't say that in a blame-y, angry way. I just mean that relating to disabled bodies as a deviation from "able" bodies, and holding "able" bodies as ideal, is ableism. Much like relating to any race other than white as a deviation from white, and holding whiteness as ideal, is racism. Pretty simple.
.
Ability, just like race, color, gender, and sexuality, lies on a spectrum. While all bodies function differently, that difference in function does not equate to a difference in value. A body with more function is not better than a body with less function.
.
Read that last sentence again, because if you get what I'm actually saying, you'll see it's a pretty radical statement.
.
If this is confronting to you, or if this seems impossible, or *actually* untrue, welcome to internalized ableism!
.
Don't worry, we've all got some. ❤️

RELATED: This company has huge aspirations for reducing the unemployment rate for disabled folks.

Checking ableism means challenging our notion of what is considered "good", "better", or "normal" in the realm of ability. These are values that are arbitrarily assigned to a class on a spectrum, and I say it's time to change that!
.
The man on the left, 6 years ago, is no more valuable because he is standing and has a fully functioning spinal cord than the man on the right. These bodies are of equal value and worth.
.
They are different, and both are worthy and valuable. Nothing is wrong with either of them.
.

Addressing ableism in society will free all of us. If you have a body, this conversation is about you. By altering our idea of what it means to have a human body, we make it possible for all people to love the bodies they live in. ❤️"

Those of us who don't belong to a marginalized group have to rely on the voices and experiences of those within it to help us understand how we unintentionally contribute to their marginalization. Thanks to Mr. Tueller for helping explain how to celebrate all bodies as fully human and fully valuable, regardless of where they fall on the ability spectrum.

True

This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Richard Desmick / TikTok

Over the weekend, an estimated thousands of people ran 2.23 miles to show their support for Ahmaud Arbery, a former high school football player and avid jogger. Arbery was shot and killed in February near Brunswick, Georgia after being pursued in a truck by a former policeman and his son who claimed he resembled someone responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood.

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less