Don’t get me wrong. Stuttering justice is probably more important now than it has ever been. We need to think very carefully about what it means to speak and be heard in this new America. We need to think about the importance of clarity of speech in a post-truth world and what that means for people like us. We need to consider how communication is being eroded by money. But . . . how does one write about such things when many of my friends will literally die if the ACA is repealed? Those who are multiply disabled or experience chronic illness will most likely experience oppressions that people who stutter will not. What does this time of great uncertainty mean for stuttering activism?
I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that we need solidarity within the disability community. One reason is that our fate is necessarily tied up with the fate of the larger disability community. What happens to Autistic and Deaf people is connected to us, even if we don’t always recognize those connections right away. This means, second, that people who are more privileged within the disability community and isolated from immediate danger need to look out for those who are not. Moreover, I think this means coming to a greater recognition of how race, class, nationality, gender, and sexuality intersect with disability. We have talked around this issue often on the blog, but being Black and having a stutter or being trans and having a stutter or being a woman and having a stutter is most often a very different experience of oppression than it is for someone who is privileged in all ways except their stutter. We need to become more attuned to these differences in our midst and not try to paper them over to achieve a thin concept of disability justice.
I think stutterers are actually well equipped for this task. We have been made into good listeners by an ableist society that demands silence from the abnormal, but perhaps we can use our tongues that are slow to speak and our attention to conversational nuance for something greater as we advocate for disability justice in the days ahead.