BEASLEY, Vanessa B.
Special Issue – Disability, 50.3 pages: 166-174
The Trouble with Marching: Ableism, Visibility, and Exclusion of People with Disabilities
Marching in public, as members of a public meant to be seen in public, has been one of the most frequently deployed forms of collective social protest in the United States. For people with disabilities, however, this type of rhetorical action is fraught with normative assumptions that go beyond presumed needs for accommodation, access, and alternative modes of participation. This essay identifies the far less visible constraints created by previous historic and rhetorical practices, including some of the discourse of other progressive social activists. Both the prospect and the practice of marching as a rhetorical form of performative public argument are thus complex for people with disabilities who are too often not seen as equal citizens. The trouble with marching is thus ableism and its sustained invisibility.