Do you see me?
By Makgosi Letimile
As a recently disabled Black womxn I’ve been exposed to a new side of invisibility. In as much as it shocks me it very barely surprises me anymore.
Black womxn go through life fighting every at every juncture, for recognition, to have our voices heard, to be seen. We take it all head on with fists and words and screams. Having experienced that my whole life, nothing has prepared me more for the new level of being unseen and ignored as losing the ability to lose my legs.
Society already shuns the disabled; in some cultures, disability is viewed as punishment for sins unknown. People rush to throw shame your way as soon as they realise you are wheeling about. They are almost apologetic in viewing you as lesser than, assuming you couldn’t possibly have all your wits about you when you can’t touch the ground with your feet.
It’s been an eye-opening experience. Having spent my adult years fighting to be seen, being invisible now is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced.
I defiantly go out with a purpose of being seen, only to encounter people who treat me like I don’t know what I want, who I am and what I like. I go shopping, buy whatever my heart desires only to have cashiers look at my dad, or whoever I’m with, for approval before scanning items through. I sit at and try to order, only to be overlooked and have my companion be acknowledged about their choice. Hold the steak Mr, I’m not sure my teeth can handle it.
I’m in a wheelchair, I am not incapable of making my own decisions.
My disability is not an indictment of who I am, nor is it punishment for unknown sins. In the same vein, people have no right to ask me intimate and personal details about my disability. Whether I choose to share or not it is no one’s business.
Disability disarms one so much that respect is a foreign idea to those who stare at you from their high chairs, invalidating your existence as a human being. Never mind a dark-skinned Black female womxn on the heavy side of the scale….
I’m physically disabled but everything else works just fine thank you. Pass me the bill and mind your business.