July 5 was the next session of the 2nd annual Power in Pride Celebration Conversation Series, hosted by Marie Dagenais-Lewis, an artist who is disabled and living with MHE, hEDS, ME/CFS, POTS, PTSD and HM.
This conversation focused on exposing the ableist society. Ableism refers to when a person faces discrimination because of their disability.
Dagenais-Lewis started the conversation by sharing how ableism impacted her career aspirations.
“I had all of these dreams to be the best director in New York by the age of 29. I felt like a failure because I couldn't reach those dreams,” she said.
It took a while for her to understand that the source of failure was within the ableist society and ableism itself.
Lisa Lawrence is the Disability Resource Administrator for the Facebook support group of the nonprofit organization Speak Your Truth Today. She also has spina bifida, and she is a survivor of domestic violence. During the conversation, she shared how ableism affected her marriage and healthcare.
Lawrence lost her Medicaid benefits once she got married. “When I made my first attempt to seek help, I sought help from the church that I was attending at the time. I already knew from working in the independent living room, that the local domestic violence facility was not accessible, she added.
Additionally, Samantha Jade Duran is a Latina disability advocate, and she has Maffucci syndrome. She discussed in the conversation how ableism affects her ability to work, even with accommodations.
Her previous co-workers would say that she used her disability as an excuse. Duran says that it is due to this discrimination that she is a Social Security recipient.
Additionally, Elena Anadolis is a New York based disability advocate with cerebral palsy. She discussed how ableism led to the death of her severely disabled twin sister. Her sister died in 2019 at the age of 34 from a stroke.
“The doctors saw the severity of her disability. They decided that it wasn't necessary to give her a preventative for a stroke,” she said.
Furthermore, Neil Hughes has multiple disabilities and uses a wheelchair. In public, people often ask him about who he is or what disability he has and turn away.
“I'd like people to have the tolerance to see what it is to be disabled and the work that we do to survive in an ableist society, '' he said.
“I'm not surviving with disabilities. I'm surviving and adapting to these systems and I'm trying to subvert them,” he added.