In today’s social and political environment, much is said about the importance of allyship to disenfranchised groups fighting the good fight, such as the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment, #BlackLivesMatter, LGTBTQ activist orgs, and more.
The chronically ill and disabled need good allies just as much, and sometimes more, than those groups. But what does being a good ally to those dealing with health issues actually mean, and how does one go about becoming one?
So through our Twitter account, we asked our community: what does it mean to be an ally to someone with chronic illness or disability? We learned a lot from the answers we got back. Here’s some of the best:
“nihil de nobis, sine nobis.” nothing about us without us. if you’re a nondisabled ally, you direct questions to us. you let us speak. you let us discuss our experience. you treat us as the experts that we are without presuming that you know better or more than we do. https://t.co/NGfL0DDice
— ace ratcliff ♿️ (@MortuaryReport) January 26, 2018
I believe in Pass the Mic activism which is using ones privilege to gain attention for an issue and then pointing it in the direction of self advocates who experience it firsthand. So if you want to support without staking claim, point people to sources of knowledge. https://t.co/SsdqM85kZn
— Crutches&Spice♿️ (@Imani_Barbarin) January 26, 2018
"I'm so sorry"
"Tell me more"
"Can I make you a casserole?"
"What organization can I donate to?" or "Can I pay your rent this month?"
"Tell me where I can show up to advocate on your behalf or by your side." https://t.co/Q8peDoDMBG
— BeingCharis (@BeingCharisBlog) January 26, 2018
Listen to what we're saying and asking for, don't just assume to know "what's best" for us. Instead of talking for us or speaking over us, help by magnifying our voices and sharing our stories.
Recognize that we aren't to be pitied or objectified, as many supposed allies do.
— Spoonie Warrior (@spwarriortweets) January 26, 2018
Through my own recent experiences, I would just love for those closest to me to include me. And even if you think that I would say no or couldn't do something, please just ask me. #ChronicIllness already takes too much control over our lives so don't take away even more of it
— Rhiann Johns (@serenebutterfly) January 26, 2018
Inform yourself about ableist language and actively reduce your usage of figures of speech rooted in ableism. Look out for inaccessibility in public spaces and call it out. And amplify disabled peoples' perspectives & voices more often than sharing your own views.
— Leanora Volpe (@lea_volpe) January 27, 2018
Start conversations with fellow non-disabled people about the issues and injustices disabled people face, spread the word!!
— Leanora Volpe (@lea_volpe) January 27, 2018
I think a big piece is just asking questions, listening & responding accordingly. That's so simple, but so broad.
Calling out accessibility/representation issues when you see them, even if you disabled friend isn't with you.
Keeping that sympathy-empathy thing in check.
— Farrah Kaeser (@farrahgarland) January 26, 2018
Listen to us, there may be myths that can be dispelled,you will learn something you had no idea was an issue, Pass on our stories. Don't tell #disabled ppl what you think we should be called. Don't suggest "cures".Say something if ppl around you are engaging in #ableist behavior https://t.co/ITSJZhO2s4
— ???????? Aoife ♿???? (@Aoiferocksitout) January 27, 2018
Remember that people GET chronic illness; there was a point when they didn’t have the illness, and that healthy person didn’t go anywhere. The circumstances around them changed is all. The thought that it could happen to you too may be scary, but confront that fear.
— BC (@OiraJanai) January 27, 2018
Listen. Include. Advocate.
— anne henshaw (@annehenshaw79) January 27, 2018
Can I add: understand that even a single chronic illness or disability can vary from person to person. Our experiences, prognoses, treatments and ability to cope are all incredibly individual.
So even if you have a friend with X condition, we’re all different.
— Brain in a Jar (@BlackWyvernArts) January 27, 2018
Tell me how you're feeling today and if I can do anything for you. Do you want to talk? Then listen and ask questions. Or just sit in the room. Being there.
— Fabled Creature (@fabledcreature_) January 27, 2018
IMO, disability/chronic illness is the last frontier of communities it is ‘ok’ to exclude, condescend to, and ‘other’. To say nothing of inspiration porn and infantilization. I’d ask for allies to make space (sometimes literally) and amplify.
— Impossible Girl ???? (@1impossible_grl) January 26, 2018
-Follow disability rights activists
-Consider disabled people’s needs/let go of the default assumption that all bodies are the same and can withstand the same environments
-Get educated on and push for policies that benefit disabled people
And soooo much more https://t.co/DRnfpscqO5
— Jenn (@JenniferLerner1) January 26, 2018
Amplify, amplify, amplify. Curate +diversify your social media feeds so you see what we say, and read it, and amplify it.
But the amplifying is worthless if you aren't listening to what we say. https://t.co/NrM4ZgWRZG
— Kim from Kansas ☭ (@kim_from_kansas) January 26, 2018
What do you think? What’s the best way to be an ally to someone with chronic illness or disabilities? Follow us on Twitter @folkstories and let us know!