4 Wheels Episode 5: Internalized Ableism

Dom discusses his struggle with internalized ableism as an African American man with a disability in America, highlighting challenges with societal expectations and self-worth. They emphasize the importance of reframing perspectives and advocating for inclusivity and innovation in the face of systemic barriers.

4 Wheels Podcast Cover


Amanda: Hi everyone, I’m Amanda Jurysta, producer of Four Wheels and A Mic. In this episode, Dominick talks about internalized ableism and how he handles it.

Thank you for listening for wheels as a project and DisArt.We had some technical issues while recording, and are sorry for any inconvenience or difficulty listening as a result. If you have difficulty hearing anything that Dom says we encourage you to refer to the accompanying transcript.”  


Dominick: Hey ​​Everybody. Welcome back to The Four Wheels Podcast. Welcome to the corner of my Internet..

[Story Time]

All right, audience. Let me take you back for a second how I really try to gain new perspective on my internalized ableism and change it because there was a moment in my life, probably when I was 25, I was in college. I had built a friendship, sort of like leading into kind of like a relationship with this young lady, and she was super dope and she was meeting me halfway. Like everything, you know, the chair didn’t really bother her that much or like, at all, you know, and like, my physical limitations didn’t bother her like that. But what bothered me right and this is me. Nothing that she did made me feel like this was the intersecting. Cultures and identities with myself.

Played a big role in why the relationship didn’t work, because I felt that I was lesser than if she picked me up and transferred me into a car. So I missed out on an opportunity of going to Comic-Con or going on other dates because I met her with staff and it was cool. But for she wanted to do something with me and her and I wouldn’t do it. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And that’s one of the biggest regrets I ever had in my life. So that was one time where my internalized ableism stopped me from having a experience. That I have been longing for. Right? 

A relationship with somebody didn’t care that they had to transfer me. And that was that was something that made me re- kind of rethink and reevaluate what I was doing. You know, I’m saying to myself, I was blocking my blessings. I was blocking opportunities just because my internalized trauma in in this ableist society that’s always told me that I was not enough because of my physical limitations, I had built up. I’m going to say weird because I can’t find the right words to say it, but I built up this defensive mechanism that if. If it made me look weaker than what I am to a woman that I’m interested in, to a potential partner I can’t do. And that’s also a cultural thing. But I think it leans more into the disabled thing than the cultural thing. In my in my point of view, 

Internalized ableism is a constant battle for all of us out there. That’s been advocates and people, you know, just living in this disability journey and lifestyle. Cuz its reinforced negative shit that the world puts upon you as a disabled person. That we take wholeheartedly because of tramas and different experiences. 

For me, it’s been a, it’s been a constant like, um, battle between this intersectionality between my culture of being an African American man in America and being as or a disabled man in America in both culturally stigmas of masculine ways and framing that look into who I am as a person. And my value in the community as deciding how hard I have to work to be recognized has been impacted by this. Instead of saying you got to work twice as hard because you’re black in America, it’s like I work three times as hard because people can count me out of my own community or people can count me out,  of my own community for multiple reasons. 

And then trying to find that balance and that understanding to give, give myself space and grace with these new feelings, such as trying to reframe that feeling worthiness because of my productivity in any workspace or trying to look at what I mean into a relationship with the opposite sex. 


It all stems from some ableist BS idea of what disabled people can and can’t do over frame, you know, desirable.

And so those struggles, those voices, those ideas are nagging at you all the time, even when you’re at some of the most comfortable points in your disability journey with yourself, they will always pop up their ugly head. And so I find that this idea that we should conform to what society wants is one of those ideas that I think never takes  any account of individuality or uniqueness to the disability or uniqueness of anything, because that’s how great adaptations happen, that’s how innovation happens and conversations happen and reframing of society the way it’s built. But when we’r ,we’re born into a system, or when we engage with a system that isn’t necessarily built for us from the jump, we have to go up against these nagging barriers. And I find that to be the struggle of all struggles. 

For me. Like I said, it reframes the way I think about me as a man and it reframes the things I think about as me being, you know, a minority, be on top of my minority, you know what I’m saying? So motion to find new ways to look at things and reframe them from my own point of view. And one day I’ll find some more piece of it, you know? But I think it’s a constant journey of reself-discovery, reframing ideas in living more. How do you do it? Internalize able as I will all of the know hit me back up at DisArtNow.Org and this has been Four Wheels and a Mic signing off once again thanks for tuning in. 


Amanda: Thanks for listening to 4 Wheels and a Mic. This week’s music is Deep Cinematic Ballad Medium by Grand_Project. Funding for DisArt podcasts including 4 Wheels is provided, in part, by Michigan Humanities. We thank them for their support.


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