On this first day of African American History Month 2020, we need to reflect on the lesson learned from our struggle. We learned not to treat each other as badly as we have been treated!
January 19, 2020
I got out of bed this morning, although perhaps a bit more gingerly than I did in my younger days.
Yes, these exercise routines leave me a little more sore, for a whole lot longer.
But I’ve always been able to walk, and move, and get pretty much anywhere I’ve needed to go. I’ve rarely, if ever, been impeded by a curb instead of a ramp, a set of stairs instead of an elevator, a door not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, a public restroom without a wide handicapped accessible stall, or a parking space not close enough to a store that would help if I’m limited by a wheelchair, crutches, or an invisible illness that prevents me from walking longer distances.
Ableism isn’t as malicious as sexism or racism, but it can be just as insidious. Because many of us who are able-bodied are incredibly oblivious to the hardships of those who are not.
When we park in a handicapped space for just a minute, we may be making it 100 times harder for someone who needs that space for their van with a ramp. Or it could be someone who uses crutches or a cane, or has a heart condition.
Or maybe you park too close to the corner and block the ramp that leads out to the street. Those ramps have become quite convenient when you’re pushing a baby carriage (or even pulling your rolling luggage), but for those who use wheelchairs, they’re not just a convenience, they’re an absolute necessity. Parking in front of them forces someone to try and negotiate a curb, sometimes to disastrous results.
And this is the thing about being able-bodied. It’s not promised to any of us, and can be taken away in the blink of an eye, by an accident, a disease — or simply by growing old.
I’ve recently had several conversations with a close friend who lives in a beautiful two-story house in the suburbs. But she has expressed misgivings about living out her retirement years in this place. Her knees are already bothering her, sometimes giving out, when she goes down the stairs, and she’s dreaming of a nice ranch house somewhere in her future.
Swampscott, and other surrounding communities are already amassing plans for older people to be able to “age in place.”
Those two and three-story houses are wonderful when you’re younger. Running up and down the stairs is only a mild annoyance, if you think about it at all.
But what happens when you, or your partner, suffer a catastrophic illness, like a stroke? Suddenly you’re negotiating stairs, and ramps, wider doorways, maybe lower counter tops.
And it doesn’t even have to be as traumatic as that.
The aging baby boomer population alone should start to become more mindful of how “ableist” and oblivious we are, and how that will impede us in the future.
Thankfully, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all areas open to the general public. But can you believe that didn’t become the law until 1990?
There are still places that aren’t open to all, because they’re not designed with all in mind — those of us who need assistance to get around, as well as those of us who are ambulatory.
We’re getting older, people. Some of us will need assistance in the future. But even if we blessedly don’t, we can’t keep being oblivious to the needs of those who need accommodation now.
This particular “ism” is less recognizable, but may be easier to fix. All we have to do is pay attention — and think about someone else’s needs besides our own.
Cheryl Charles is News Editor at the Daily Item in Lynn, Mass. This was used with her permission. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor J. B. Pritzker proclaimed Chicago "Sky Town during a massive celebration of the Chicago Sky's first WNBA Championship, with team owners, coaches, and elected officials present to congratulate the team. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a season ticket owner and former basketball player in her youth, expressed how she was proud of the team's winning season. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle recalled that during her high school and college days, girls sports teams were not available. Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton declared that the Chicago Sky team was an inspiration for girls who aspire to be professional athletes.
It was clearly all over for Phoenix in these last moments of game 3 of the WNBA Finals held at the Wintrust Arena Friday October 15, 2021, as the Chicago Sky scored with less than a minute left in the game, widening the gap by 36 points, setting a WNBA record for most points ahead and ending the game with a final score of 86-50.
CHICAGO - Joined by Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, team ownership, and GM and Head Coach James Wade, WNBA's Candace Parker held a virtual press conference Tuesday, February 2, 2021, to discuss her decision to leave the Los Angeles Sparks and return to her Chicago home to sign a blockbuster multi-year deal with the Chicago Sky.
"We had a good chemistry but I just felt like there was a missing piece," said Coach Wade. "You want someone with you that has that experience. We as a staff felt like Candace checked all those boxes. Now, my job is to try to put everything all together." Candace Parker is a 12-year WNBA veteran. In 2016, along with other stars such as Alana Beard and Nneka Ogwumike, Parker helped the Sparks to win their first WNBA Finals since 2002.
"You can look at the different teams that have won in the past and the type of style they play, being able to play fast, being able to command space," Parker noted. "I don't think everyone on this team has to have their hands on the ball to be effective. I've talked to Coach Wade, I'm eager to learn the system, learn my teammates and have my teammates learn me." She observed that the WNBA is a diverse group, which helps to level the playing field in professional sports. "Within the WNBA we understand our responsibility to give a voice to the voiceless. It's so important for us to emphasize the importance of girls playing sports and developing leadership skills."
Photo by John L. Alexander