Bif Notes No. 11 Activism As Self Care

Disabled people are often tasked with doing an unnecessary amount of emotional labor in discourse with non disabled people. Whether we are fighting for access, demanding our rights or being forced to prove our disabilities, so much time and effort goes into these interactions. Fighting for access and our rights will always likely be par for the course. But expending emotional labor for the education of others, especially without compensation is something that, as a community, we should do as sparingly as possible.

This isn’t to say that you need to charge a public speaking fee for every online interaction (tempting though that may be). Nor should you not volunteer your time and energy for causes that you deem worthy. But never forget the worth of your time and energy and don’t sell your opinion or your voice short.

As for organizations and individuals benefitting from the efforts and emotional labor of disabled people, try to be mindful of what goes into these interactions for disabled people, and if you are asking them to use their energy to give their opinions, either in writing or speaking for your organization, there should be some attempt at compensation. After all, while what you’re asking them to do may not be their job, it’s still work they’re doing for you. But especially if it is their job, or what they’re trying to make their job, work out compensation for their efforts.

So whichever side you land on, whether you are a disabled person or someone asking a disabled person to engage in emotional labor for your education, keep in mind the amount of time and effort involved and ensure that proper compensation occurs. And if you are the disabled person being asked to give of your time and energy, keep in mind that it is not up to you alone to educate non disabled people. Make self care a priority and remember you are part of a community.

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