by Erin Lewy, Organizer
When the question of theme arose during disscussions for this blog, one answer was given by many voices: We will not be silenced. We will not hide ourselves, our scars, our pain, or the history that they represent. We will celebrate our triumphs and mourn our losses loudly, where people can see us.
We write in honor of everyone who has been silenced during the course of our fight for equality. We write in honor of people like George Hodgins and Tracy Latimer, murdered by their parents- the very people charged with their care.
We write with the full knowledge that it would be less messy for everyone if we just shut up, if we didn’t examine our history and the people who have shaped it, if we did just like Jerry Lewis has told us to and stayed in our homes, if we just went away. We honor these pieces of our history, and we’re here to make new history, to stand up in the face of brutality and erasure and say that we are still here, loud and proud, and you cannot silence us; you will not. We were here, we are here, and we will be here, telling you our stories and refusing to disappear. We are a community, one that is vibrant and alive and here to shine as bright as we can for our youth, for their parents, for our allies. We will not be put away and we will not be silent.
Our silence has been encouraged, cultivated, via everything from the eugenics movement to police brutality and worse. We face violence and death if we dare to speak the truth; even murder by our own mothers and fathers.
We can do nothing in the face of such utter depravity, such unfairness, but stand up and be as loud as we can.
That’s what we decided when we heard of yet another murder this month, of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man. Murdered by his own mother, who ultimately will never face human justice because she took her own life, it may seem that George no longer has a voice here. But we will not allow George to fade into obscurity. We will not allow his name to be erased from our history. George’s murder puts fear in our hearts and fire in our bellies. We will be a beacon, speaking his name and telling his story to the best of our abilities. We will remember George, and Tracy Latimer, and all of the people in between them. These are our people, and we will speak out for them. In the face of claims that George’s murder is the tragic story of his killer, we have no choice but to speak out, as loudly as we can, and tell you that we do not accept this narrative. We are here to honor George, and as such this blog project is dedicated in his memory. Through the tragedy of his death, we have formed a group of activists, advocates and writers impassioned enough to challenge the stereotypes of disabilty and to show you all the many facets of our community, our struggles and our history.
In the coming weeks, we will introduce ourselves to you. Beginning on 3/30/12, the day of many national vigils in honor of George and other people with disabilities who have been the victim of murder, we will bring you a new entry which looks at the issues of murder, assisted suicide, violent crime against and abuse of people with disabilities. We will post until each of our staff has had their say, including our proofreader, who could not remain silent any more than our writers could. We will show you who we are, and the things that put fear into our hearts, the things we face every day but refuse to be stopped by. The things that are swept under the rug, the things that need to be talked about, faced, and known.
We are a diverse group of people with disabilities from all walks of life. We have one thing in common: we are ready to speak. For us, the time is now. It may never have been more true. We are here in honor of George, and we will not be silent.