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Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Day of Shame: Identity, Indifference and Humanity - Part 2

PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 1 - PART 2 - PART 

Part 2: an Indifferent Ignorance 

I felt that I could relate to my earlier discomfort when I heard people saying things about individuals they never met or didn’t intend to mix with. As I read about the struggle of black Americans in the US for civil rights, I felt that Martin Luther King Junior was also talking about an experience not dissimilar to my own.


As I read about Gandhi’s protests against the British colonisers, I felt that, in some way, I was colonised by a non-disabled ideology that placed people like me who had an impairment amongst the lowest classes of society, sustaining the belief that impairment was an inevitable reality and that I must accept my burden and not expect to be an equal. Of course, it would be much later in my 20s that I would be introduced to the idea of the social model of disability that appeared to given me a voice and the words to articulate my experiences.

For, like racism, sexism, homophobia or any other forms of intolerance that existed about people who may be different than us, The fact I had an impairment wasn’t the problem in itself. Indeed, one major problem was the attitude people had about impairment which was often seen to define my whole identity - even erasing any other aspects of my humanity. However, unlike other forms of discrimination, society has also proved to reject my body whenever I was denied access to places or to resources simply because my body didn’t conform to the imaginary ‘norm’. Despite this fact, attitude played an important role on my feeling of being an outsider. Like the black men and women in 50s America, I didn’t have equal rights in so many areas. Like the colonised Indian, what I owned and my history was always inferior to that of the unreal norm. I was and still feel an outsider.

This is why I felt the need to speak about the injustices that I witnessed this week in an episode entitled Lives Should Never Be Used As Means which I posted on my podcast channel . The inhumanity in the government’s attempt to deport a group of Somali migrants back to Libya. While Malta has limited resources to provide shelter to more migrants, I felt that this attempt at sending a message to the EU that Malta needed more support was morally deplorable on so many levels. For, given that Libya remains unstable and that the detention centres at Libya offer very poor human conditions while guards there don’t seem to have any respect for human rights,, if our government hadn’t been stopped, these immigrants would have certainly suffered torture, rape and death. And I don’t like to call them ‘immigrants’ but language is often constraining. They are, first and foremost, people - men, women and children. They are my brothers and sisters. They all have their own identities, likes and dislikes. They feel the same feelings and emotions that I feel. Like them, I can get sick and I will die. We share the world with each other.


PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3

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