Nović: America’s favorite pastime and the politics of disability

From Sara Nović at Believer Magazine on May 22, 2019:

I am used to people talking wide arcs around my deafness. They look embarrassed when it comes up and they somehow have to refer to the fact that I can’t hear. I watch them rifle mentally through a variety of deeply weird terms invented by hearing people—“hearing handicapped,” “impaired,” or, my personal favorite, “challenged” (challenge accepted?)—trying to avoid saying the word “deaf.” Sometimes they don’t say anything at all, just blush and kind of wave or point at their own ear apologetically. Most of the time I find this dance funny, but sometimes it is frustrating. Deaf, I end up explaining, is not that kind of four-letter word, and the most accurate descriptor for my deaf-ass ears.

Mine is hardly a unique experience—deaf and disabled people have these conversations daily. This season an iteration of the discussion has even been spotlighted in sports when Major League Baseball announced they were changing the name of the Disabled List, known colloquially as “the DL,” to the Injured List (IL). The operating procedures for said list remain the same: major league teams have an active roster of twenty-five players, and if someone is injured they are relegated to an inactive list for a period of either ten, fifteen, or sixty days, to make space for another player to be called up from the extended forty-man roster or the minor leagues.

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Originally published: May 22, 2019. Last Updated: May 22, 2019.