Surviving, living, and thriving with a disability


A tale of two worlds

ablenotdisabledA few weeks ago I attended my 40 year high school reunion. It was celebrated in St. Louis, Missouri, where I was born and raised and of course attended high school. It was an absolute fabulous three days with great events each day.

I left St. Louis in September of 1975 and only returned to visit my family that still lives there. Throughout the 40 years after my graduation, I stayed in contact with three classmates at best. Most of my classmates have matured and understand today the misery and abuse I received daily through the horrible nicknames I was called. They were so bad, I will not repeat them in this article.

None of my female classmates referred to me in the terms used decades ago. A few of the males did, and honestly, I did not remember the names or faces of those that chose to not refer to me as Kenneth.

As an educator, civil rights advocate, and disability consultant, I could have spent my time educating the men who decided being ignorant and abusive was okay. I chose not to, because in the scheme of life, if they had not learned in 40 years that the names they called me were extremely inappropriate, more than likely I would not get them to understand or change their mentality in three short days.

It takes real men and women to comprehend the past and live in the here and now with honor and respect for all persons. It was disappointing, but not surprising. If Blacks lives matter, surely that extends to people with disabilities, as well.

How is it, in the world we live in today, that we as a people do not understand we are the backbone of this country. We have and continue to live, survive, and thrive under the heavy hand of White supremacy that is abundant and prevalent in these United States.

We are the watermark for all that have not been a part of real equal opportunity in this country. As we go, so goes the other minority/diverse cultures of peoples in this country. We must stop the infighting and stupidity of selfishness we have bought into under White supremacy. Our ancestors gave us life and their lives were uprooted, stolen, destroyed and worse, but we survived.

We must be as one and respect all persons of color no matter how different on the surface we may seem. Our grace is in our humanity. Let us be graceful kings, queens, princes and princesses, and become the keepers of our world and all who pass through it.

I have lived in this world many years, seeing and understanding those that are temporarily able bodied. I make one simple request: Walk in my shoes for a day, see and experience the world as I do, then understand your place in this world.


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.