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Ugly Laws and Today's Ableism

CW: historical trauma, ableism
Ugly Laws Modern DisabilityAlt Text: Image from Modern Disability 2015. An old fashioned white policeman with a gun, and the text “There were once ‘ugly laws’ in several American cities in which persons with ‘unsightly or disgusting’ disabilities could be subject to a fine for appearing in public.”
Historically, from the Ugly Laws (1) to forced sterilization (2), people with disabilities have been villainized and kept from public sight. Today, this is still happening with disabled people who also are homeless with forced conservatorships (3). Those with deformity were punished and in situations of survival, the weakest link was a threat. For some, being disabled meant institutionalization and still for too many, it means death. For able-bodied companions and family, it could mean death or harm or loss of status too. It is very hard to rewrite these lessons and learned beliefs. Society is guided by those in power and the history of that power.
This impacts people with disability today in a way that people are not always cognizant. These hidden beliefs are at the core of ableism, but they are so deeply entrenched and infrequently discussed. To advocates and allies, please share resources to assist in opening this messy can a bit further.
To those without experience or knowledge in this area, thank you for your interest. I am prioritizing the views of people with disabilities but welcome supportive comments. Further moderation will be determined as this unfolds. Also shared on Facebook.
Thank you for reading,
Michele Mashburn


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