BY GARY NORRIS GRAY, STAFF REPORTER
OAKLAND — The last week of August I visited a fast food store in Berkeley, California the so called MECCA of the disabled world. My stomach was talking and needed something to feast on. My ears got a very rude awakening.
A very disturbing trend is sweeping this great nation and this lead is coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The marginalization of Disabled Americans AGAIN!!!! When ordering food the waitress did not make a good faith effort to understand what was being said because she was in a rush, until the Gray voice was raised with unhappiness, repeating the order three times. This should not be happening in Berkeley because of its disabled population.
One of my heroes Johnnie Lacy explained it clearly
Johnnie Lacy (1937-2010) was a leader in the independent living movement and fought for the rights of people with disabilities, especially people of color. She led Community Resources for Independent Living, a nonprofit in Hayward providing services and advocacy. Lacy spoke of being excluded from the Black community due to her disability and from the disability community due to being a person of color. As a Black woman in a wheelchair, she educated her communities about race and disability and served as a role model for many other Black disabled women.
Lacy explained the separation of the Black community with their Black disabled residents and then had to deal with the racism of the disabled community. Black disabled men and women were and still are the outcast of American society. These courageous men and women have to overcome so many obstacles just to survive and are often rejected not only by American society but the disabled community as well, which is shameful.
Following all of the Cerebral Palsy speaking protocols taught to us as a child, 1) speak slowly, 2)speak clearly, 3) speak loudly 4)look into the person’s eyes. That did not help at all; the young woman either refused to understand or could not understand what was being said.
This is what a person with speech disabilities went through in the mid-sixties, we are returning to this horrible era with the help and leadership of Agent Orange in Washington. The political, social, and economic, attack on The Disabled American community is returning with full force.
This has been brewing for the last few years; examples: a disabled young woman in South Carolina was brutalized by a white male in authority (school officer) in a classroom. The young lady refused to give up her cell phone in class or leave the room. The teacher called in the school’s security officer for assistance. Was the student wrong, maybe, but what gives that officer the right to lift her out of her chair and slam her to the floor, then throw her across the room like a rag doll. Yes, she was Black.
Four African American disabled men in their wheelchairs were shot and killed by police officers in four different cities and four different dates, last year but the mainstream media basically ignored these events. Question, what did they do? and were they potential threats to these police officers?
My Oakland, California wheelchair bound drug dealing (look-alike) doppelganger has put me in stressful situations with the Oakland Police Department on many occasions, questioning me and requesting identification. One wrong move by me or the police could have resulted in another tragedy.
Just a few months ago, a San Francisco police officer pushed a disabled man into the streets with his motorized wheelchair because he accidentally (allegedly) ran over the officer’s foot. The officer left the man in the street with his body hanging out of his wheelchair, with his seatbelt saving him from hitting the pavement. Bystanders watching the incident finally picked him up after a few moments.
Incidents like these have been on the increase in the United States and it is troubling. When a group of people are marginalized they become expendable and incidences like these become common place AGAIN!!!.
Many people with Cerebral Palsy understand and deal with this attitude. Cerebral Palsy affects all body motor skills that include speaking, breathing, walking, and eye sight. Our culture has to educate ourselves on the differences and similarities within our Black community that includes disabled people.
If disabled individuals do not speak up for the Black Disabled community-WHO WILL? If you do not educate the Black Community-WHO WILL?
1.) Most African Americans do not know or understand the world of the disabled and we need to enlighten the United States of America.
2.) The struggles to just survive with Cerebral Palsy with physical, social, and economic difficulties are an ongoing battle.
- a) Police often stop people with C.P. and ask have them have you been drinking?
- b) Disabled folk with C.P. have to prove repeat to teachers and educators that you are not mentally disabled-basically not stupid. If you are black, male, and disabled there is an 85% chance that child will be placed in a special education class because the school system does not want to deal with the special needs of these children. My educated mother (Hampton Institute) and father (North Carolina Agriculture & Technical University) would not allow this. The Burlington City School system tried a few times and failed to label this disabled child.
- c) Then think about this, white people calling Black disabled the N-word because you are Black. Then Disabled people calling Black disabled the N-Word too because people with Cerebral Palsy are in the last place on the disabled political totem pole. These individuals drool on themselves, cannot control their muscle movements and cannot or are difficult to understand when speaking. Not pretty enough for the American masses who wanted quadriplegics or Jerry Lewis kids.
- d) Literally, Black disabled people are the last one hired and the first one fired so when able bodied Black people say they are last, it is not true.
- e) Black fathers with disabled children with Cerebral Palsy leave the household 85% of the time, leaving the mother to raise this special needs child. The mother has to do this while creating some kind of equal-ness with this family’s siblings.
- f) The Disabled are continued to be cast as A-SEXUAL- being. The disabled are believed to be not interested in love, REALLY- The disabled are not human, RIGHT? Americans still cannot or refuse to visualize disabled Americans having sex or children. This is the doubled standard in the Black disabled community too.
African Americans might want to read about the causes and effects of Cerebral Palsy and how they can help.
Just wanted to get Black America started.
Here are some organizations that may help
United Cerebral Palsy-
The National Black Disability Coalition-NBDC
Black/Brown International Disability Art and Hip Hop
Krip – Hop with Leroy Moore
Black, Disabled, and Proud College Students with Disabilities- HBCU Disability Consortium
Sins Invalid- San Francisco, California
Krip Hop Nation- Berkeley, California
POOR Magazine- Oakland, California
Black Lives Matter Organization-
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod