• Tishawna Ashman

We Should not have to Hurt in Silence Anymore

We should not have to hurt in silence anymore

Disabled people are not tokens for your charity tours


The world’s inaccessibility designates our reality

It should not be that way but society has no neutrality


And if you do not think that, then you are extremely out of date

Sounds to me like you are still looking for a reason to hate


Just because you do not see it, does not mean it’s not there

You do not experience limiting healthcare and pitiful stares


We experience barrier to barrier instead of access to access

In a world with little progress we smile to hide our distress


From chronic pain, invisibility or impairment, we smile to society

Why is that so? That I must put on a smile to hide my anxiety


Of course, it is to get through the day, but I just want a reason to stay

In a world full of access, resources and peers that do not look away


You may be part of the problem if you refuse to understand

So please I beg of you to get your head out of the sand


Don’t deprioritize or ignore, it is a mindset not a barrier

Choose to see it, educate yourself: do not be a hate carrier


Imagine the queer folk, women, and people of colour

Those intersections make our communities smaller and smaller


Imagine how badly they want to scream and holler

We are who we’re supposed to be, different not less or smaller


With systematic change, physical access is just the beginning

There are so many other ways that society can be made more fitting

In our current social climate, individuals wrestle to understand the relevance and importance of accessibility activism. I have been diagnosed with an invisible disability, which draws me to aspects of disability that are often misrepresented or hard to locate. In solidarity with others that have hurt in silence, I have decided to create a poem. It is my goal to have my poem present a critical view of social and political matters surrounding disability. Additionally, I want my poem to allow the audience to consider how we can include individuals with disabilities as creators of culture within our society. The objective of my poem is to engage the audience in self-reflection regarding how they view and presume disability; it is my belief that through self-reflection, others can alter their presumptions and allow a space in society for activism. Through such a space, we can develop accessibility, conception and awareness for individuals with disabilities.


I wrote this poem from my perspective as a black disabled woman. I am attempting to share some of the experiences that I have encountered while discussing my disability with others. Having a disability means that I frequently face hardships and numerous barriers; this poem is a reminder to never stop working towards equity throughout all spectrums of disability. I tried to provide specific examples that individuals could understand. For example, in the poem, I commented on how healthcare can be limiting to Individuals with disabilities. In essence, the contemporary health system forms a picture of what we should view as healthy and unhealthy. In leaving disabled people out of this system, it makes them seem lesser than. I think the health field could greatly benefit from educating the public on disabilities, what they look like in everyday life and that they do not make someone less of a person than someone who is able-bodied.


Furthermore, I attempted to amplify the voices of those with multi-oppressive identities. Additionally, I called out intersectionality by highlighting that some individuals with disabilities are women or queer or individuals of colour.


In the latter part of my poem, I sought to highlight systematic change and how only recognizing physical accessibility is a surface-level take. In order to achieve true equity, we must recognize the invisibility, diversity and sexuality of individuals with disabilities. Additionally, we must recognize that systematic change requires the shifting of language and stigmas within our society. While assertive, I chose to write my poem in a direct tone so that it can be understood and prompt self-reflection. I am not attempting to shame, but I want the audience to critique the way that they view disability. Through this, they can reflect on their actions and work toward building a society that seeks to better itself. Ultimately, this poem is about activism and exploring the theoretical ideas and physical experiences of what it is like to be disabled, as well as concepts relating to disability.

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Aging Activisms is a program of activist research, academic mentorship, and intergenerational community-building led by
Dr. May Chazan, Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Gender and Feminist Studies at Trent University.

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