Sometimes it becomes a way of blaming disabled people for things that aren’t our fault, of not looking at the impact of policies or of not seeing a full picture. Sometimes it seems like a way to pass the buck, or a way to deal with tension between disability rights/justice, and disability services, which are not rooted in rights. They are rooted in medicalization, and then try to put in rights as an overlay because they were not built on a disability rights or justice framework and progress has been made on the rights front, thankfully. But if disability weren’t seen as such a medical thing , we wouldn’t have to advocate so hard in the first place. Asking people to do self advocacy without talking about the fact that it’s necessary because we live in a society not built for us or not acknowledging that it has serious limits sometimes and it’s not a failure when it doesn’t make everything better and people still need help is unfair and incomplete.
That said, self advocacy matters. A lot. But it isn’t a complete answer. It is simply a tool, and no one tool fixes all things. So let’s tell kids and teens this. Let’s remember it for ourselves whether or not we have disabilities. Let’s acknowledge that we feel helpless and scared when it doesn’t do everything we hope. Let’s all remind each other about this for disability issues and other things. And let’s keep doing it! Here’s to navigating ALL the complexity of this and holding space for ourselves and each other.