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10-26-17 | All Are Created Equal…Kind of | Romel Mackelprang


Dialogue leader: Romel Mackelprang

Director of Disability Studies at EWU

Mark & Elizabeth England's
1194 South 500 East in Salt Lake City.
Late-comers, please use the back door. 

The culture wars in the US have brought people together to protest against racial and ethnic violence, xenophobic policies, violence against women, and LGBTQ rights. Perpetually lost in the battle for human rights are people who live with disabilities. Disability is almost universally seen as a tragedy or affliction. Hitler’s mass extermination of disabled Germans was labeled tough minded mercy, at Nuremberg. Today, prominent ethicist Peter Singer and others argue that it is morally justifiable to euthanize disabled infants. Social policies often prohibit disabled people from working. People with mental health disabilities such as depression are viewed with pity or as morally deficient. Yet, drawing strength from the civil rights and women’s rights movement, disabled people are rejecting society’s perpetual ableism, and fighting for equal rights. This discussion will illuminate how disabled people and disability culture are part of the diverse tapestry of society, not in spite of our disabilities but because of our disabilities. We will also address commonalties in combatting benevolent ableism, with fighting against heterosexism, sexism, and ethnocentrism. Moving past the silos of individual identity group advocacy, we will explore a disability rooted approach of universal access, combined with critical diversity theory and intesectionality.  

About Romel:
Dr. Romel Mackelprang is the Director of Disability Studies at Eastern Washington
University where he has been a professor since 1987. Prior, he was adjunct faculty at the
University of Utah College of Medicine and College of Social Work where he also provided
therapy and sexual counseling for folks with disabilities. He became active in disability rights in the early 1980’s. As a member and chair of the Washington State Governors Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, he was immersed in gay rights and was an editor of Decisions of the Soul, a book chronicling the lives of gay Mormon men who had been convinced that marriage would cure the gay away. He is author of the text, Disability: A Diversity Model Approach. For the last several years, he has been involved in multiple projects in Africa including wheelchair access, water projects, and women’s rights where he takes small groups to live and work in the community. In 2016, he was a college professor teaching diversity and human rights courses with Semester at Sea while sailing around the world with 600 college students.