Today is Blog Against Disablism Day for 2011. I could write about one or another of the interesting books, articles, videos, poems, paintings and more that I’m seeing as I prepare for a fall seminar on people with disabilities. But instead, I’m sharing a video that is not specifically about disability. It’s about the sociological imagination.
Sam Richards is a sociologist from Penn State; he has been labelled “one of the 101 most dangerous academics in America.” Hundreds of students take his course on race relations every year. His premise is the same: the heart of sociology is empathy, a personal experience of the sociological imagination. Giving up the myth of objectivity, Richards tells us that we can’t understand all sorts of movements and actions of societies and people unless we do the uncomfortable – frightening – work of really understanding their world.
He doesn’t stick with the comfortable topics, either. In this video, he asks us to try to radically understand the world of Iraqi terrorists.
Why choose this video for Blog Against Disablism Day? Many people are just as reluctant or frightened to bridge the us-them chasm separating people who do and do not currently have a disability as to consider the world view of a terrorist. Yet this chasm separates us from our neighbors, our co-workers, even our family members. Richards’ empathic is not just an academic approach – it is a step against the -isms that divide us; against disablism.