Last week I wrote about the progress on disability I see all around me, and how it never really feels like enough. A good few disabled people got in touch to say that my feelings echoed their own, so it appears that I am not alone in feeling conflicted. It can be hard to tell whether the moment calls for optimism or pessimism, so maybe it’s ok to feel both. After all, this stuff is complicated.
That being said, I think we should savour optimism when we find it, even if the thing we’re feeling positive about is relatively minor. It might feel silly to celebrate small good things when there are so many big bad ones, but even if anti-ableism is a marathon not a sprint, each metre still counts. One step closer.
I had a small victory this week and I have decided not to give in to my impulse to write it off as negligible, because even on a tiny scale it does matter.
I was doing some book-related stuff (more on this v v soon!) and was therefore perusing the disability section of the Waterstones website. As I scrolled, I caught a glimpse of the category tree that would lead you to the disability pages if you hadn’t gone directly to them, and a little voice in my head simply went: oh dear.
For, you see, the disability section came under a heading that read: ‘Coping with personal problems’. Nope.
I decided to send a tweet.
I was very polite about it because a) I bloody love Waterstones, and b) I really want them to sell my book.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect much from a single tweet, but a fair few people retweeted it, and then:
This! Do you see how quick and easy this change was? This is how it’s done, kids.
Waterstones recategorising it’s disability books is not a big battle won in the war against ableism. Absolutely not. But it is a victory in the fight to improve disability representation. It matters in the never ending slog of getting disability recognised as a neutral, socially-constructed thing. And it’s important to those of us who just want our work and our words to end up in the right place when they go out into the world.
One step closer. Now on to traverse the next metre, and the next, and the next. Maybe the finish line is invisible, maybe it is ever-receding. But the effort to get there is pulling us in the right direction. So I’m celebrating small victories. And I’m making big plans.
See you next week,
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This is cool!!! Thank you for sharing!