My Union Sister in Vertigo

” Did they ever worry, when they “reacted to Emma” that if they were they wrong, their behavior was cruel and oppressive?” ****


One of my union sisters* has for years, spent much time and energy attacking me and my disability; using my impairment for her own amusement and ambition.  Recently just days after I posted a comment regarding the marginalization of disability within education, and referenced my own case within the union, (without mentioning names),  to the thread on the facebook wall of a mutual friend of ours,  I received two hateful “anonymous” comments  to the opening message of my blog* * (I have, in response set up a criteria for posting of comments, and have offered other insights in a previous post)***

The header,  IP address, as well as other indications are that the sender, and one of the authors of these latest hate rants is no other than the daughter of my union sister, writing from Portugal where she is a PhD student. 

The depravity of sending anonymous messages to someone whose receipt of death threats and hate mail is well known, is a small example of the cruelty that has gone into this multi-year campaign.

The first statement appears, based on writing styles and content, to have been a collaborative effort, mimicking the accusations of my union sister and members of her clique.  The second post with what appears to be this young woman’s own statement, revealed something very new. 

While my detractors, using my disability to attack me, through gossip and innuendo, instead of  addressing real differences, or finding legitimate avenues of disagreement,  have refused to even recognize or respond to the issue of disability as a human right,  this latest communication states:

“Your blog effectually mocks the causes of people who are in the situation you imagine yourself to be in.”

So!  We, people with disabilities,  do exist, even if I am not one of us!?

Hm! Why the change in discourse?

It has come to my attention that my union sister recently, has been complaining of vertigo, and at times has taken up the use of a cane. Vertigo is but one of the many symptoms of fibromyalgia, and in my experience, one of the most devastating.  It is extreme dizziness and imbalance. When hit with it (it comes and goes,)  I can barely walk across the room to the bathroom.  I am limited to bed rest for the duration.

Is it possible, that after years of using disability discrimination to advance her own aggrandizement, my union sister is now stricken?  That those close to her, like the “anonymous” commentator,  are witnessing the howling limitations imposed by this condition, even though when in public, she doesn’t appear to be ill.  Are they,  and she, experiencing the frustration of good and bad days;  having to miss meetings, forced into the isolation of bed rest when one lives alone, or not alone, when the rest of the world goes off to work, or activities or life in general?

Does she suffer the bitterness of people who don’t believe her because she doesn’t look sick or because when they do see her, when she can get out and about, she seems quite capable?  Do they, as she has done, question her intermittent use of ambulatory devices, claiming that her disuse one day indicates a dishonestly on the days that she claims to be in greater need?

Is she struggling with the decision to use ambulatory devices, considering deeply the stigma, and the limitations they impose as well?

And what of the shame and humiliation she herself contributed to, so aggressively?  Will people now accuse her of lying, of trying to get attention? Can she be believed after lying about my condition for her own benefit, for so long? 

Regardless of whether or not she is truly sick, she will probably find that there is nothing to be gained from “faking” disability.  Beyond parking placards, it carries very little privilege.  Will her previous lies now blow up in her face, both because of the stigma she perpetuated, and because her duplicity will now be laid out for all to see?  “But you accused Emma of faking her illness when you yourself embody all of the evidence of this “deceit”.”

Perhaps she will be a more convincing victim, that is, play the victim much better than I could.  She is by far more delicate and more feminine in presentation than I.  And femininity by definition and historically has always been linked to weakness and infirmity.  Her stealthy wiles used to attack me, never publicly, and her ability to use others to wage her wars, may make her claims more convincing, than my direct insistence at participation, my own assertive testimony of my daily struggles and my assertion that my personal experience be linked to the greater body politic demanding solidarity and justice, not pity or charity. 

When this union sister in vertigo, approaches you with her sad new situation, please respond with compassion.  Regardless of her dishonesty, she probably is really sick. Admitting it, all the more difficult because of the corner she has painted herself into.

But by all means, learn from the errors of her ways.  The corner you paint, when you dis-dis-ability, may be your own, for it is the one marginalized group, if you live long enough, I promise you, you will join.

And gently (gently) remind her , of her own cruel words;  that you were listening closely, perhaps even believed her, even were complicit with her. How deep they must have stung, how lonely indeed it is to experience what those around one negate and ridicule.  How wrong she was, how wrong, either in silence or in deed were those who supported her in her campaign against another union sister, a sister in struggle, illness and determination, a would be ally had she only allowed for the possibility in the first place.


*She is the UTLA member with the pseudonym, “Camile” under the thread UTLA Human Rights Committee

** A Message to the World both Big and Small


***Policy on Comments

Why The Hostility Toward  Victims


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