The Minnesota Council on Disability shares the following post from Brittanie Wilson, our Communications Officer.
Last week, I traveled to Washington, DC with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare members, homecare workers, and disability advocates to support the Build Back Better Act. This landmark piece of legislation will put millions of dollars into funding for home and community-based services for people with disabilities and the elderly. Notably, the act includes a much-needed and long-overdue investment in homecare services.
As someone born with a disability, I have relied on Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) my entire life. Quality homecare services allowed me to go to college, live on my own in an apartment, move to a different city, work, and – most importantly – live how I want to!
However, access to homecare is difficult to sustain and can change in an instant. Since the pandemic, I have only had one PCA, and every day I ask myself the question, “What will I do when they quit?” That is the reality for many in this industry. Why work as a care attendant when they can make more money at a grocery store?
Far from the narratives of “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and “Be independent,” our reality is much different. We rely on one another to live, be safe, get the things we need, and feel loved and cared for. A sense of mutual reliance helps us thrive!
I wish that everyone understood what it’s like not to know whether you’ll have enough care to be able to go to the bathroom, eat, change your clothes, or get out of bed. I wish that non-disabled folks realized that we’re fighting for your future too. Ableism harms us all! In a culture where disabled equals disposable, no one is safe!
Visiting the Capitol was an emotional experience. I didn’t expect it to feel so big! I was transported back in time, and as I gazed upon the Capitol. I couldn’t help but think about those people who crawled up the steps 31 years ago to make sure that Congress signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. I am here today because of the leadership and wisdom of those that came before me.
As the crowd chanted, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” I felt a mix of hope, strength, and an overwhelming sense of knowing how far we still must go. I reminded myself that this is a long battle that confronts ableism, racism, and sexism. I said a silent prayer that one day our efforts would mean the next generation won’t have to fight as hard to exist as they are.
As Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senator Chuck Schumer, and others spoke about the care crisis and overdue legislation like the Build Back Better Act, I thought about the people who died because they didn’t receive care, a situation exacerbated by COVID. I thought about friends forced into institutions, their rights stripped away because they had no other choice.
A few days later, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act. Its future is now up to the Senate. We must keep the pressure on our legislators. Please write to your Senator today and let them know they must support this investment in our future. Our stories and experiences matter!