Today is World Down Syndrome Day.
Today is not about creating or spreading awareness (FYI, not really about awareness, like, ever, yo), not even really about acceptance (although every single day should be about active acceptance, so there's that. Heh).
Today is about celebration, about pride, about culture, about rights.
About the kind of celebration of difference that doesn't try to see past or beyond the disability by ignoring it completely or by only searching for similarities, but the kind that views it as an accepted part, sometimes a defining one if the disabled person so chooses herself, of a person. The kind of celebration that acknowledges and respects a disability, like it acknowledges and respects someone's race, sexual orientation, and chosen gender. The kind of celebration that embraces how a person chooses to define herself.
A celebration of taking PRIDE in one's self. All of one's self.
Today is not about how regular we all are - and we are, most of us anyway, I and my daughter included - but about enjoying life, and having access to learning and community. What these self advocates speak of in this clip:
Today is about access to healthcare and not having one's health concerns brushed aside with "We often see this in Down syndrome." What this clip speaks of:
Today is not about my kid being the best advocate for acceptance, meaningful inclusion, and equality for people with Down syndrome just by living her life or some such esoteric babble (Another FYI, it never is, she's not your campaign until, if ever, she wants to be), or about us as "a family affected by Down syndrome" (Yup, you guessed it: never is), or how our life looks or is, or, deep sigh, about "advertising" for Down syndrome to stall abortions or something, another deep sigh. Nope.
Today, or any day really but you know what I mean, is about recognizing, talking about, accepting, celebrating, and accommodating for Down syndrome. Today is about people with Down syndrome.
"I have Down syndrome, and I am proud of who I am," say the self advocates on the first clip. Not a single eyebrow should be raised, not a single scoff heard. This should not be, and isn't, a radical idea.
I want my daughter to be able to say "I'm proud to have Down syndrome."
That's what World Down Syndrome Day is about.
Mother Nature thinks so too and gives Down syndrome two thumbs up:
One final thought, because it's eating me up. The same one I had last year also so maybe I should scream it today?
WHAT DO FUNKY SOCKS HAVE TO DO WITH DOWN SYNDROME? WHAT? WHAT IN THE...? WHY...? Can we have a reasonable explanation, and can someone reassure me that regardless of all evidence, associating strange socks with Down syndrome isn't counterproductive to acceptance after all, please? And why does supporting this absolute incongruence seem to cost money? Anyone? No, really, ANYONE?
I'll see your socks and raise you pride. For free. How's that for a good start to a celebration?