Gagan Dhaliwal is a first-year student majoring in Cognitive Sciences and was taking our DBST1001A course – Intro to Disability Studies. “I took the course on disability studies as an elective and, to be honest, did not think much of it. Many concepts, ideas and definitions were introduced throughout the course, ultimately changing my perspective of the world. Disability studies aims to teach that disability does not lie within individuals. The social consequence of being alienated comes from society disabling an individual – and that is the tip of the iceberg.”

Inspired by the course material and the documentary, Crip Camp, Gagan has written a poem about the important 504 sit-ins where groups of disabled activists occupied government offices across the United States to demand their rights. Their activism led to significant policy and social changes in the country and beyond.

The 504 Sit-ins: The Wakening

By Gagan Dhaliwal

The golden sunlit sky is beyond and above me

Soon the revolt against inequality will swarm the free

I can see the ‘broken man’ that stares on the other side of shore

Telling me that the line of segregation has been drawn long before

I feel numb as if the eyes of that man have stained me

Waken from a dream of unreality and a cold evil sea

Where everything is so absolutely perfect and charming

In a world without a disability, or a world where disability

Is not of the people but of society’s mind and attitude

But as you begin to tear through the layers of oppression

You will see that the world has more of an obsession

To be of status quo or hold within the normalcy

And becomes monstrous where the hunger

Is only fed of labeling, discriminating those that are ‘different’

Why must a missing arm or having cerebral palsy be of your concern

Differences exist when one believes of a ‘difference’

When will I, you and we stand in harmony, knowing that the fault

Is not in you but in the cruel mind of society

I stare back at the ‘broken man’ on the other side of shore

Telling him that I stand with him and will fight for Section 504