On this; the 7th anniversary of the attacks on our country, I thought it apporpriate to write about violence and all its implications. This is something that is very important to me on several levels, and I want to explore it as thoroughly as I can.
Recently I received the notes from a meeting I attended around hate crimes. I had been the lone representative from the disability community in attendance, and I wanted to make it clear that disability needed to be a part of any discussion about hate crimes, even if there were none reported as such in the last few years. After all, in a city the size of Portland there SHOULD have been some reported.
In the section of the notes about disability, it was made very clear that most of these concerns were of a non-violent nature. This has bothered me for the past few weeks, and I want to address it now.
Is the hanging of a noose in a black person's space an act of violence? I believe it is. Is the non physical verbal attack on a gay person and act of violence? I believe that is as well. Is name calling or graffiti directed toward Jews or hispanics an act of violence? My conscience says "yes". So why would the demeaning of a person with a developmental disability not be an act of violence? Does it take a physical attack on these folks to say they were violated? Why?
Violence must be more than physical. It must be threatening. If you are physically unable to protect yourself, and you hear people saying negative things about you and your physical and/or mental disability, you must be experiencing violence. Just like a black person being called the "N" word by an angry white person. There is absolutely no difference.
I will return to the next meeting on hate crimes, and I will ask these questions. I will ask that the words in the notes we received be redacted, and that new language reflecting accurately the danger these folks face be in its place.