Charity Box  

A letter sent to Woman's Hour, on BBC radio 4.

It was read out loud but sadly in edited form - it or I was also called 'bitter'

Charity does give, it gives jobs, status and control to non-disabled people. It makes us, disabled people, invisible and powerless. Charity is self-perpetuating, reinforcing a disabling society, much as aid from the West reinforces exploitation and poverty.

Attitudes and charity would change if we had statutory rights and anti-discrimination legislation. Organisations connected with disability should have a majority of disabled people on management boards and decision making bodies: they should train and employ, within a set time limit, a significant percentage of disabled people, working at all levels; decisions about funds raised should be made solely by disabled people; companies used, such as publicity agencies, should be chosen if they have disabled employees in responsible positions and training schemes for our future employment.

It needs to be understood that as far as disability goes we are the professionals, we have the experience. As it is, the arrogance of non-disabled people is only superseded by their ignorance. What a conceit, they honour themselves, for services to 'the disabled,' we don't even merit a noun, such as 'person.'

Non-disabled people often tell me, with an I of self-satisfaction, about the charity activities and entertainments they have been involved with, entertainments which frequently have a complete absence of disabled people. How many celebrity charity galas have access, let alone our participation? Why should it be deemed that disabled people exist to give relief from boredom and provide emotional massage for the non-disabled? If we do we should be paid a great deal more than we are for this service.

I don't agree with the politics of charity. We all share this planet and only borrow its resources, no one has more rights to them than anyone else or more of a say in how they are used. I want equality and justice not exploitation. I demand a secure life, not charity events which secure non-disabled people's life-styles at our expense.

Disabled people have a great deal of experience. It should be used not wasted, we certainly need it if we are to reverse the process of destruction our world is undergoing.

I am an artist and struggle daily, not with ideas for work which would express my experience, I have no shortage of these but how to accomplish my work without facilities. I am frustrated and angry when I see abundant facilities and resources controlled by non-disabled people used to project a false image of me and in my name.


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