Council for Students with Disabilities presents Eli Claire

‘If I never heard the word ‘special’ again, it would be too soon’

On April 7th, writer and activist Eli Claire spoke at an event for the Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD), an organization under UGBC at Boston College that “is committed to improving the quality of life on Boston College’s campus for students with disabilities by removing both the physical and social barriers they may encounter.”

Eli began with a thought-provoking quote, stating right off the bat that “Lame is sexy and the super crip is one of the main stereotypes of disabled people.”

That really took me by surprise. Going into the talk, I did not realize how irritating it was for folks who are labeled as “disabled” to witness people celebrating only the triumphs of said people.

“The story about disability should be about ableism…not the overcoming disability story or the super crip story,” Eli explained. “Through ableism, disability is perceived to contradict achievement. Disability is therefore seen as the opposite of achievement. And any disabled person who transcends that contradiction is labeled heroic.”

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Eli then gave a personal anecdote about how he came in dead last in more races than he could count, but that he continued to do it simply because he loved to run, not because strangers would applaud him at the finish line just for completing the race.

Eli emphasized the importance of focusing on the social justice implications of disability, rather than the impairments disabled people have.

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“In addition to pity and tragedy, we are also connected to violence and danger in our society…we are actually much more likely to be targets of violence rather than perpetrators of violence,” Eli added.

High levels of unemployment continue to be a major problem for the disabled community of this country, with an unemployment rate that has remained at about 15% for the last 40 years.

Eli concluded his talk with one last, very powerful line that left the audience with goose bumps: “If I never hear the word special again, it would be too soon.”

Boston College