Living, surviving and thriving with a disability — Are we equal yet?




ablenotdisabledThere is something that I must be missing, or the ugly head of discrimination is alive and well in this democracy called the United States. The art of forgiveness appears alive and well for European Americans, while the appearance of unequal treatment for others brews under the surface.

In one state, we have a European American male running for elected office and winning his party’s nomination to represent the state after previously vacating his governorship of the same state for several days under false pretenses. This person used taxpayer money to fly to another country to have an extramarital affair. No one in the state knew where the governor went. He was caught because the place he disappeared to was having a nude week for visitors.

In this state, we have an African American male with a disability, college-educated, entrepreneur, community volunteer, 36 years of management leadership experience in the chosen field of expertise, and yet cannot receive an offer of a career choice by a national/international corporation. This corporation has received numerous awards for its diversity efforts. The lack of an offer for employment has not happened once or twice, but more than 25 times.

I know we are or were in an economic downturn, but with all things supposedly being equal, do any of us believe that any European American with a disability, college-educated with 36 years of experience in a chosen field would not be offered a career opportunity in a national/international company?

Do we believe the European American would have to apply more than 25 times? Do we believe the European American would be denied employment for an entire year? Do we believe the European American would have been told at one time, “You are not qualified for the number-one position at one of Minneapolis’ premier healthcare institutions”? Especially when the European American had previous experience in management at that institution and one of its previous partners for many years?

In my previous column, I mentioned the “American dream” and how it was being pushed when I was a youth. Much of that dream is present today in the same form, as well as the perpetuation of unequal treatment, with the perpetration of this unequal treatment preventing us from reaching our full potential.

The false walls, concrete ceilings, and other obstacles placed in my path eventually will be overcome. Being a person who has experienced both the beauty of fairness and the ugliness of unequal treatment, my ability to know the difference is heightened by my experiences.

I could just let this go and move on, but my commitment to my fellow human beings is to fight injustice at every turn. I will assert my right to be treated fairly and equally in every area of my life.

I urge everyone to learn and understand your rights, and to assert them whenever you believe you are not being treated fairly. It is not about a person’s intent; it is about how it is received and acted upon.


Kenneth Brown is a business owner and disability advocate/consul tant. He welcomes reader responses to All of his articles can be found on his website: