On November 14, 2013, a US Airways flight from Philadelphia did not take off as planned due to misbehavior. Upon investigation, the only “misbehavior” appears to have been on the part of the airline when first an attendant and then the captain ordered a blind man and his guide dog off the plane. The service dog was too large to fit under the seat.
The privilege that says it is okay to be completely ignorant about whoever is “the other” is so very old and simply intolerable. It is time for humanity to grow up, evolve and choose healing.
As part of the planning group for the ELCA’s Congregational and Synodical Mission’s disabilities ministries, as Women of the ELCA’s core anti-racist trainer and as a cross-cultural educator, I know well that it takes intention to learn and understand diversity in all of its manifestations. Because diversity can be taken to the smallest particle, too many of us draw what we have of our own oppression(s) about us as a cloak to deaden the Spirit’s prompting to learn of the oppression of others.
It may help to think about intersectionality. Intersectionality is when two or more oppressions cross. For example, I am both a woman and a person of color. Each of these primary dimensions of diversity provides their own baggage and their own drag on my energy. And, frankly, I am sometimes unsure which one of these primary dimensions of diversity is causing someone a problem.
Some attacks are horrific. Others are like the tiny little something that finds its way into a sock we are wearing—it hurts like you-know-what yet it mystifies us that something so very small can provide such pain and hobbling of walk. Other attacks are like the thousand little cuts.
So, I applaud those who left the airplane in protest to US Airways putting the blind man and his service dog off the plane that was leaving Philadelphia. I applaud every act for justice regardless its size even as I continually work to expand my own actions to ease the suffering of others.
When have you seen such actions for justice?
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice.
Photo by Cliff. Used with permission.