Dear Community: Who are we?
Are we handicapped? Are we crippled? Are we physically challenged? Are we mentally challenged? Are we disabled? Is it possible we don’t know?
Let me submit to my community we are none of the above. First and foremost we are “people.” Some of us are people with one or more “disabilities.” If you have a disability this does not make you any less of a person than anyone else.
To identify or place oneself in any of the categories above is akin to identifying oneself as the dreaded “N” word. As a disability advocate, I cringe when I meet people that classify by using any of the terms above. One wonders if you classify yourself as a condition, especially a negative condition; how can someone assist you correctly? Conditions are vague, unknown, extremely scary, and nearly impossible to wrap one’s arms around.
We cannot have positive outcomes if we do not come together as people to request and receive the equality in all facets of our daily lives we are duly given. Remember, no one or group can remove your humanness and civility. We have earned the right to be treated fairly and equally, but we must treat ourselves fairly and equally first.
I fear that my community cannot come together and speak with one collective voice. I fear we hide our differences and act as though they do not exist. We fail to effectively advocate for the services and equipment we need to be successful. There is nothing wrong with being different. There is nothing wrong with, or to be ashamed of, if you have a disability. We should be as proud of our disability as we are to be Black in America.
Disability has two distinct properties. “Dis” — a negative, cannot do. “Ability” — the power to do whatever one chooses. We have the power to do whatever we choose! I choose to give my community the information it needs to move forward in seeking positive outcomes.
Kenneth Brown is a disability advocate and consultant. He welcomes reader responses at 612-518-2155 or email@example.com.