Surviving, living and thriving with a disability

Black Americans will never be ‘one’ without mutual respect

ablenotdisabledPresident Obama has established a program called My Brother’s Keeper. I think the premise of the program is to have Black men treat each other with the honor and respect we have earned.

Over the past month, I as a Black male with a disability, have acted as a business owner, employer, mentor, role model, caretaker, grandfather, father, brother, and many more roles. I know who I am: I AM A BLACK MALE WITH A DISABILITY.

This is 2015, and I cannot understand the total disregard, disrespect, lack of faith and honor Black Americans exhibit towards people like myself. I have been called a cripple mother****** and told I would have my a** kicked; been told, “I can get ni**erish and come to Minneapolis and show you something,” and told my employees did not pull the weeds but went and smoked weed instead.

I was told I was talking crazy to an employee by informing him he could not sleep in the truck between properties when at work. I was talking crazy because I have the bump on my head from my traumatic brain injury as a child.

This last incident was unbelievable. I was the crazy person, yet this person was being paid on a weekly and sometimes daily basis by me for the hours he worked. This is a person who lost the first $400 he made by losing his wallet. What knucklehead walks around with sagging pants with $400 in cash in a wallet in the pants? But I am the crazy one.

Each of the encounters above were with Black people. One was with a family of three —mother, son, mother’s brother. One was with an employee, one with a Black female, and one with Black male homeowner clients.

These are not anomalies as some might believe. These are mere daily examples of how Black people treat other Black people for whom they have no respect or honor. In order to feel powerful, they must put down someone they think is less than they.

These are people who at any moment can become members of the Black population of persons with a disability or multiple disabilities. It is clear none of them would survive if the disability were permanent. They would be destructive forces not only to themselves, but everyone in their family and their friends, co-workers, etc.

No matter one’s circumstances in life, respect, honor, and faith in our fellow human beings should be the order of the day. If we are going to thrive in the world economy, we must first learn who we are and how we all relate to one another.

The entire time we don’t understand this basic fact of human existence, we will fail. We will always look to the others (those outside our culture) to be our savior and protector.

People, get a grip. If you don’t know who you are, how you want to be identified, and your real history, you are doomed to fail and live in struggle and strife. I know who I am, where I came from, where I am going, and I am constantly learning my history. What about you?


Kenneth Brown is a disability advocate/consultant with emphasis on human rights within the law and how people are treated. He welcomes reader responses to ablenotdisabled or to 612-518-2155.