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Tonza Borden

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Member Since: Dec, 2006

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A Disabled Manifesto
by Tonza Borden

Sunday, January 13, 2008
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Tonza Borden
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We proclaim that we are born free and equal human beings;
that our disabilities are limitations only, and that our
identity does not derive from being disabled.

We proclaim that we have the same value as people who are
not disabled, and we reject any scheme of labeling or
classifying us that encourages people to think of us as
having diminished value.

We reject the idea that institutions must be created to
"care" for us, and proclaim that these institutions have
been used to "manage" us in ways that non-disabled people
are not expected to accept. We particularly denounce
institutions whose purpose is to punish us for being
disabled, or to confine us for the convenience of others.

We reject the notion that we need "experts," to tell us
how to live, especially experts from the able-bodied
world. We are not diagnoses in need of a cure or cases to
be closed. We are human, with human dreams and ambitions.
We deny that images of disability are appropriate
metaphors for incompetence, stupidity, ugliness or weakness.

We are aware that as people with disabilities, we have
been considered objects of charity and we have been
considered commodities. We are neither. We reject
charitable enterprises that exploit our lifestyle to
titillate others, and which propose to establish the rules
by which we must live without our participation. We also
reject businesses that use us as "warm bodies" to provide
a passive market for their services, again laying down
rules by which we must live for their profit. We recognize
that the lines between charities and businesses are
blurred in the disability industry, and we do not accept
services from either if their essential function is to
exploit us.

We assert our rights of self-determination in the face of
rules, eligibility criteria, regulations, customs, laws or
other barriers, and we pledge not to allow any authority
or institution to deprive us of our freedom of choice.

Finally, we assert that any service we need, from
specialized teaching to personal care, can be provided to
us in the community among our non-disabled peers.
Segregated institutions are not necessary to serve us, and
they have been the greatest source of our oppression,
especially when they have been run by able-bodied people
without our participation.

All human beings are more alike than we are different. We
recognize that when we assert this belief we will find
ourselves in conflict with regressive institutions and
their supporters, some of whom may be disabled themselves.
We do not expect thousands of years of stereotyping to
dissipate quickly. We commit ourselves and those who come
after us to challenge our oppression on every level until
we are allowed to be fully human and assert our
individuality ahead of our disability.

By John R. Woodward, M.S.W.
Center for Independent Living of North Florida, Inc.

Disability Empowerment Enables a Better Life
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Reviewed by Joyce Devenish 1/25/2008
Hello Tonza,
I agree one hundred percent with this manifesto. Good work...Best wishes ...Joyce
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 1/13/2008

Too bad old stereotypes, old discriminations raise their ugly heads; in a perfect world, those deemed less than would be accepted for the valuable human beings we are. An excellent sharing; being disabled myself, this is a powerfully penned sharing. And like my twin sister (Karen Lynn, below), I welcome you to Author's Den. Look forward to more from you.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 1/13/2008
Excellent write, Tonza; well penned! As a person with a disability, this spoke volumes! Welcome to the den, you are among friends!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your new Texas friend, Karen Lynn. :D

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