11-9 by Judy Endow

Our grief is deep.

11-9 feels so much to our disability community like 9-11 to our society. Our grief is deep. We are not being overly dramatic. Yes, 9-11 saw significant loss of life. Living, breathing people – lots of them – died that day. The reason those of us in the disability community feel this sort of grief today is because our human worth is on the chopping block. We know today that many of our friends, neighbors, fellow citizens out there in the community at large have voted against our humanity. For some of us our own family members, whether knowingly or unknowingly, voted against our human worth when they voted for Donald Trump.

We are not alone.

The disability community is not alone. We share this fate with people of color, anyone not professing Christian faith beliefs, those inclusive of more than the belief in heterosexual-only relationships and all of the female gender. More than half of the population of our country falls into one or more of these categories. Even so, collectively, we have decided that it is okay to divide up the people of our country into factions with only white, heterosexual, nondisabled, Christian males being counted as worthy.

11-9…now what?

Those of us in the disability community who have been around for lots of years have fought long and hard to become recognized as just as validly human in the eyes of society as other citizens. We have made great strides in some areas. Disabled children now have the right to an education. Disabled citizens have the right to health care and the right to live in the least restrictive setting. The list goes on. BUT… 11-9… now what?

What we know today is we have Donald Trump as our next President. He will become the most powerful person in our country. He has made no apologies for being non-inclusive. He has very articulately shared his divisive viewpoints with all of us many times over. Collectively, we knew what he stood for and collectively, with our electoral process in place we voted him in.

Collectively we mourn.

Many things going forward will be affected. Only time will tell how much and in what ways. Even though we cannot predict just how our community will be affected many of us have first hand experience of the impact on our lives when those in position of power negate our value as human beings. The reason the disability community is grieving today is not because our favored candidate lost an election. It is because our hard won status to be counted as an equal human being has died. Collectively we mourn society’s pronouncement of our unimportance, our non-being status, our less-than-human nature.

Our mourning is real.

Our mourning is real. It is palpable. We are in the throws of it. Our futures and the very lives we live everyday are at stake. We go to bed scared and wake up afraid. We cry together. We hold one another close. We have each other. Together we will face the future, whatever that may be, knowing the sun will come up every morning even when we cannot see it.

We will be stronger together.

A new day will dawn. Together we will regroup and go forward, arm in arm, holding on to our dignity, believing in our own intrinsic value and human worthiness. And on those dark days when you feel beaten down, know I will hold onto your hope for you. Likewise, I will need you to hold onto my hope for me during my times of bleakness, until I can once again pick up that hope and walk forward. This is how we will be stronger together. It is different than what we hoped for, but we will find our way. Each one of us matters. We will need to live through bigotry, hatred and misogyny. We will hold each other up because in the end love always trump hate.