"Which group?" I often wonder. I'm white, fat, female, heterosexual, artistic, Generation Y, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a Veil Theorist, etc. Which group, then, should I direct my focus on?
We are all from multiple groups, organizations, classes. We are all multifaceted. Why is it that people with disabilities are told to guide our focus elsewhere?
Some people say disability cannot have a culture because we don't fit into a certain criteria. We have no set religion or region so this is impossible.
If that's correct, movements for the expansion of homosexual literature (for example) would be moot because they come from all backgrounds with just ONE particular thing in common and yet, for them, that's enough.
I understand why some people believe there is no Disabled Culture. We have a handful of literary magazines, a few arts organizations, one widely-recognized sports competition, and... not too much else. And that's taking international resources into account though, admittedly, I don't know everything available.
Some things to think about, though:
1. Disabled characters on television are almost always played by able-bodied actors
2. Organizations who claim to advocate for disabled, often do not have any on their board of directors (Autism Speaks, anyone?)
3. There are no artist retreats or residencies for disabled
4. Many wheelchair basketball teams are predominantly able-bodied sitting down (I couldn't believe that at first)
5. Disabled who do show artistic leanings (or any other feat) are considered inspirational and, are therefore, rare
6. Much of the writing in mainstream media about disabled people come from people without disabilities, despite the majority of us being able to (and do) write about ourselves
These points (and more like them) say a fair amount about what holds back attitudes from progressing towards the idea of Disabled Culture. Disabled people know it exists but, at times, it is so buried and oppressed that we even have difficulty finding it. I can't tell you the last time I read a novel written about a disabled person that made him/her seem like more than inspiration and a plot device (or a novel written by a disabled person, period).
The only time we won't be underground, I fear, is when inspiration or negativity wander into the spotlight and, though that sounds depressing, the world needs every unique perspective (on wheels or not) it can get.