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The International Liberation Reference Person for People with Disabilities

I’m Marsha Saxton. I’m the International Liberation Reference Person for People with Disabilities. My constituency also includes people with chronic illness and people with bodies. (laughter) That’s anywhere from six hundred and fifty million to seven billion people.

In the 1950s I was the little girl in the classroom with the metal leg braces. It was a time when people with disabilities were treated with pity and charity. One of the features of disability oppression is “don’t ask, don’t stare, shhhhhhh,” which keeps everyone stupid and clueless about understanding and challenging the stereotypes of people with disabilities, which include that we’re ugly, we’re stupid, we’re a burden, and we’re better off dead.

The oppression is very harsh and affects people with disabilities profoundly. And it not only affects people who happen to have different bodies, doing what they do, but also everybody and their bodies. It keeps all of us scared and confused and from being proud about moving and having wonderful aliveness in our very being.

Since I first got involved in the disability rights movement, there has been a tremendous shift. In a groundswell movement around the world, people with disabilities are using social media and all manner of other things to connect with others. There is a proud worldwide movement of disabled people organizing to challenge their oppression in regard to employment, access to education, access to the life of the community, architectural access, and access to everything that everybody else enjoys. We now have the United Nations treaty on the human rights of people with disabilities, which is a tremendous success. And of course we have so much yet to do.

This is what I’d like to offer you, as people with bodies: If you are a person with a disability, come join this proud movement of human beings who model resilient and creative living. If you are an ally or a potential ally, come learn to use the tools of RC to get past that silence, that awkwardness, that fear of saying the wrong thing or showing your ignorance, which is not your fault but due to how you have been kept from real information about and connection with this incredibly lovely, resilient group of people. And if you’re somebody who struggles with health, come learn to use the tools of RC. My slogan is “Bring your body to session.” (laughter) So, bring your body. See you later!

El Cerrito, California, USA


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00