Poor Mr. K has heard me rant about this topic for about 24 hours now. So in the spirit of giving him a break, you get to hear about it instead. :)
As most of you will know I am currently in my second semester of my master's in social work. For the most part I have really enjoyed my program. Of course there are certain topics that I may find a bit tedious and there are also some areas that I think the program could do a better job of addressing, but on the whole I feel like I am getting a quality education. However, yesterday I became very angry.
One of the areas that I think the program is lacking in thus far, is the ways in which they address disability. Mostly because they don't address it at all. There are entire units on so many social issues which is fantastic, but I have yet to come across a unit that talks about disability which to me is slightly shocking. We are in a master's of social work program. How is an entire population ignored? If my Sociology under Grad could present disability topics in a plethora of courses, then why doesn't my Graduate program? However, this is not what made me so upset. That said, it is relevant and you'll see why.
Yesterday I was working on a unit that was demonstrating the importance of community and how a supportive community can improve the quality of life for its citizens. At the end of the unit there was a video we were required to watch. I got three minutes in, shut it off and wrote an email to the professor; explaining how inappropriate the video was and that I would absolutely not watch it.
In the first three minutes that video used the "R" word six times, referring to a person with a cognitive disability. This word has been removed from all American legislation, how is it that a social work program is comfortable with this word? How is that no one has challenged this before?
Not only was the word used repeatedly, but the video was also offensive in how it portrayed the individual with the cognitive disability. This person was "one of those people" and "we" (people without disabilities) are so special and should pat ourselves on our backs because "we helped this sad little person blossom and grow."
Well, let me tell you!
It is the sociological barriers that has oppressed this person and has made independence nearly impossible. So, by you deciding to remove those barriers, you aren't special. Not even one little bit!
What makes this even worse was the little paragraph written before you got to the screen where you could view the video. It was this little blurb patting the producer on the back and touting that this producer and another person involved were from this particular educational institution.
I would not be proud of that, (insert name of university here).
We have had so many units on racism and the language surrounding those issues have been appropriate. The material focused on the strengths of populations and how our society oppresses minorities; however, when it comes to disabilities, it is a population completely ignored. At least, until now, and it is not the type of material that should be presented as it is not representative.
There are two words in the english language that make my skin crawl and the "R" word is one of them. If you know me, you'll know what the other is.