When I think of the word survival, it conjures up many images. More often than not it’s an image of a character in a horror, thriller or zombie narrative, where the individual does everything physically or logically possible to live through the trauma and make it to the end of the film, or to the next episode. A person’s strength of will to keep living is what drives them to survive the zombie apocalypse, murderer or demon. These surviving characters are always physically and/or mentally strong, or become so quickly. Their motive for survival? They have future plans, information they must pass on, people that rely on them – in some way, their life holds value. Once this traumatic episode is over, they can get back to those lives. They survive in order to find peace, joy, fulfilment, happiness. To reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
A HIDDEN STRENGTH
The language we use can offer us a glimpse into our core values. Words can be loaded with deeper meaning that demonstrate the true beliefs of a society or individual. This is why, when we use the word “disabled”, it’s worth noting that we tend to veer towards negative language. When looking up synonyms of the word disabled, I was surprised by the loaded and emotive language I found – words like weakened, incapable, damaged and powerless.
THE LARGE MINORITY
The term “minority group” invokes the image of a very small percentage of people. When I was a teacher, I had a minority group in my classroom consisting of a small number of children who needed different support and teaching methods to the rest of the class. In an ideal world, every child’s individual needs would have been met, but this was not the case. Time, resources, space – these resources affect the treatment of minority groups on a much larger national scale as well. The ‘majority’ have their needs met, while smaller groups who don’t fit into the majority box are often left behind, mistreated, or ignored.
Dating has changed a lot over the last few decades. In the time before dating apps, people would meet at work, in cafés, or via friends or family. It may seem like a simpler time, but it did mean that the variety of people for you to meet was limited to your direct community. I think you would be lucky to find ‘the one’ when there is a world full of possible ‘ones’. As Tim Minchin so eloquently said, “If I didn’t have you, I’d probably have somebody else”.
WEE ALL HAVE TO GO
There are so many terrible things going on in the world. I could talk about any number of them – but everybody else is already doing so. What has always been my concern about things like Brexit is that the aspects of life that were already difficult are going to be forgotten in favour of this new event. So many people are going to be left behind as the government puts all of its focus on negotiating our split from the EU. And so my article today is not going to be about any of the ‘big issues’. It’s going to be about a very small one. It’s one that really gets my goat, but it’s often forgotten. Well – not just forgotten. It doesn’t even register to most people.
I’m talking about toilets.
MORE THAN A BEST FRIEND
We’ve all heard it said that dogs are man’s best friend. It appears to hold true – in the UK one in two households owns a pet and in 2015 it was estimated that the pet population stood at 8.5 million dogs and 7.4 million cats. With so many of us owning and loving our pets, the idea that dogs can be more than faithful companions isn’t that surprising. The ones who know that the best are likely the 7000-plus disabled people in the UK who depend on assistance dogs for care ranging from alerting those with epilepsy of an oncoming seizure, guiding the blind, or helping someone with limited mobility to perform daily activities. They are even used for therapeutic needs, often for those suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety or depression.
ACTING DISABLED: WHY WE NEED TO SEE DISABILITIES ONSCREEN
(Content warning: discussion of ableism & ableist slurs)
The summer of 2016 saw outrage in response to the film Me Before You and its portrayal of disability. The film, directed by Thea Sharrock and based on the book by Jojo Moyes, is a romance following the lives of a young man (played by Sam Claflin) and woman (Emilia Clarke). Where’s the controversy in that, you ask? Well…
WE’RE HERE. WE’RE QUEER. AND WE MATTER: THE HIDDEN FACE OF THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY
Content warning: mentions racism, homophobia, suicide, arson, massacre, mental health
On June 12th 2016, a mass shooting happened at Pulse, gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA. 49 people were killed and 52 injured, mostly of Latinx descent. Across the world, lgbtQ+ communities and allies have been organising vigils and other events to express support and condolences.
‘Look, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay,’ Owen Jones said, before storming out of a Sky News debate on the massacre, after the two presenters refused to see the incident in a lgbtQ+ context.Continue Reading
BLACK STUDENTS’ CONFERENCE 2016
On May 28-29th, the Black Students Conference happened in Bradford, where black student delegates across the country congregated together in the conference hall of Bradford Hotel.
We listened to BME activists and journalists discuss about their own experience of oppression, institutional racism, and the hard, arduous path that led to Malia Bouattia’s victory as the first black female president-elect of the NUS. This included renowned journalist Gary Younge, who delved upon the progression of black activism and condemned the forms of racism existing in right and leftwing media. Younge later received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
We went through rounds of motions and amendments. We voted for our new committee members, including the Black Students Officer, now Aadam Muse. Most contentiously, we debated about political blackness and its relevancy or outdatedness within the movement’s campaign structure.Continue Reading
THE STRENGTH OF THE VULNERABLE
“I was taken aback at how brutal the police were,” begins Marion Fallon, a local anti-cuts activist from Norwich, and eye-witness to the events of Wednesday June 24th. “To attack such physically less able people, to protect the elite, really showed how democracy isn’t working. I don’t suppose it occurred to [the police], that disabled people are feeling they have to take more and more drastic measures, as we’re not being listened to and not being treated fairly and equally. I feel very, very worried and scared going forward as the Tories have taken us back decades in what was fought very hard for.”
She was speaking to me after a number of disabled protesters had attempted to gain access to Prime Ministers Questions in demonstration against the government’s ending of the Independent Living Fund. Marion, who is in constant pain and unable to walk without the aid of a stick, is also a first-hand witness of the government’s shameless remodelling of social security, as a recipient of disability benefits, and is extremely concerned for the future.Continue Reading