[nabs-l] Ending the NFB/ACB feud

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Mon May 18 18:27:47 UTC 2009


Hi all,

I’m a big fan of forgiveness and letting go of the past, and I do
think the students are the people most equipped to do it, so for
purposes of this post I’m going to disregard the initial history of
the split and focus on the current differences between the two
organizations. My opinion is that we shouldn’t unite, not because the
ACB is bad or hateful, but because I think it’s to the benefit of
individual blind Americans to be able to choose between two distinct
organizations rather than having the blindness advocacy movement be
dominated by one super-organization that claims to speak for all blind
people.

The fact is that the two consumer groups have developed different
advocacy priorities, philosophies and positions, and so I don’t think
a combined group will be very effective on an advocacy front. I do,
however, support the formation of local groups that are unaffiliated
with either consumer organization; that are “non-denominational”, so
to speak, for purposes of socializing or networking. People can join
these groups without having to commit to an identity as an NFB-er or
ACB-er, or committed members of both consumer organizations can join
this local unaffiliated group and still retain their prior identities.
I do think these groups are good for networking between blind
individuals who live in the same area, and the development of
mentoring relationships. I just don’t think these groups should act as
collective advocates, especially on national issues, since the
fundamental differences in philosophy and priorities between the two
organizations are so vast. For example, I’ve been working a bit on
creating a blind student group at the University of Colorado-Boulder,
and while most of our early members are Federationists, some are not
and tend to lean more to the ACB side of things. It’s been hard to
develop advocacy positions because, for example, some of our members
believe that we should fight to have on-campus construction curtailed,
while many of the NFB members in our ranks feel that it is the
responsibility of blind students to deal with obstacles in our
environment rather than fighting to have the environment adapted for
us.

As a general rule, the ACB tends to fight for changes to the
environment on our behalf while the NFB tends to emphasize training
and role modeling for blind individuals themselves so that we can
adapt to our environment. I personally feel that members of the ACB
have just as much of a right to their policy stances as we have to
ours, and so I don’t think that either organization should have to
sacrifice its identity to become part of a super-organization of the
blind. I believe that both organizations should keep fighting for what
they believe in. I do feel, though, that the bickering and put-downs
between members and leaders of both organizations should cease as the
political conditions which led to the split in the first place have
changed. In future generations, I would like to see a separate NFB and
ACB who retain their identities but who can “agree to disagree” in a
civil manner.

Arielle


On 5/19/09, Jedi <loneblindjedi at samobile.net> wrote:
> Joseph,
>
> I haven't yet been able to read People of vision, but it's definitely
> on my reading list for this summer. I recently had to read Walking
> Alone and Marching Together on Dr. Maurer's request. It was, forgive
> the pun, an eye opener. Not just regarding the aCB, either.
>
> I figured that it was mostly a tit for tat issue regarding the split
> itself. But racism? I'd heard, and I don't know how true this is, that
> the aCB wanted segregation by race and that the NFB didn't given
> Jacobus tenBroek's scholarly efforts in Constitutional Law. Can you
> confirm or refute that? I doubt racism is an overt issue in either
> group. But given that we're a cross-section of American society, it
> wouldn't surprise me a great diel if both groups dabbled in
> institutional/accidental racial bias.
>
> Respectfully,
> Jedi
> Original message:
>> Jedi,
>
>> I'll add only that both versions of the history appear to be
>> accurate, or close enough to it.  The composite effect is a tit for
>> tat sort of escalation with one major systemic cause: Two factions
>> were fighting for control of the organization.  The challengers were
>> unable to wrest control from those in power.  The factions' various
>> political alliances result in a large number of proximate causes for
>> the split from racism to term limits, and everything in between.
>
>> Joseph
>
>
>> On Sun, May 17, 2009 at 11:48:45PM -0400, Jedi wrote:
>>> Jim,
>
>>> There is some long history between the NfB and ACB. It's not just about
>>> disagreements on philosophy even though philosophical differences
>>> certainly set the two organizations culturally apart.
>
>>> The first members of the ACB split from the NFB mostly because of
>>> political banter. said individuals thought that Jacobus tenBroek and
>>> others were dominating the organization. Certainly, they had a right to
>>> their views, and they certainly had a right to leave. Unfortunately,
>>> these individuals went about voicing their opinions in all the wrong
>>> ways possible including undermining the organizational structure and
>>> creating a lot of bad feelings between people who would otherwise be
>>> friends.
>
>>> In the sixties and seventies, the NFB was under siege by agencies
>>> serving the blind. these agencies were staffed by well-connected people
>>> with a lot of money and a lot of power, but not a lot of positive
>>> philosophies and knowledge about the blind. These agencies often
>>> subordinated the blind through threats and bad dealings. The NFB called
>>> these folks out, and the agencies used the ACB like an ever-loving meat
>>> shield to say "See Federation! Not all blind people agree with you!"
>>> Naturally, it was much easier for the aCB just to go along with things
>>> because they were still angry with the NfB over past political issues.
>>> And certainly, they weren't going to put themselves in the line of fire.
>
>>> Fast-forward to NAC. I don't know what you know about NAC, but it was
>>> bad bombin'. Once again, the aCB never called NAC out, but we did. Once
>>> again, NAC spoke of professionalism in services to the blind. Instead,
>>> blind folks got left with a raw deal, threats to their livelihoods and
>>> well-being (even their health in some cases), and all kinds of things. A
>>> couple folks from ACB and a few other folks with a grudge against Dr.
>>> Jernigan even brought the FBI to the Jernigans' and Maurers' doors on
>>> trumped up charges of keeping weapons and possibly starting some kind of
>>> military effort. It was insane. People were getting death threats and the
>>> whole bit. Remind me to tell the story of my own state affiliate's
>>> frustrations with the ACB sometime.
>
>>> This isn't to say that the ACB is all evil and the NFB perfectly
>>> innocent. I wasn't there to know everything. But from what I read and
>>> have observed in current ACB/NFB behavior, there's good reason for a
>>> split in the organizations. At this point, we can certainly say that
>>> there are key factors in philosopy that separate the organizations to
>>> the point where nothing good would ever get done because the two parties
>>> would be constantly feuding. Better live and let live. Both
>>> organizations have compiled their versions of history if you want these
>>> facts for yourself.
>
>>> Respectfully,
>>> Jedi
>>> Original message:
>>>> Terri and Arielle,
>
>>>> I just wanted to let you both know that one of the members of MABS is
>>>> also VP of the National Student Division of the ACB. He is adamatly
>>>> opposed to the (bordering on childish) feud that exist beteen the two
>>>> organizations.
>
>>>> I am wondering if we can't use this oppertunity to somehow begin
>>>> bringing the two organizations back together. After all, we will be
>>>> then next generation leading these two organizations, and if we can
>>>> sieze this oppertunity, maybe we students can set the example for the
>>>> "adults" within the two national organizations.
>
>>>> I wonder if a join NABS/ACB student convention would be just the
>>>> solution to begin ending this conflict?
>
>>>> Thoughts?
>>>> Jim
>
>>>> Homer Simpson's brain: "Use reverse psychology."
>>>>  Homer: "Oh, that sounds too complicated."
>>>>  Homer's brain: "Okay, don't use reverse psychology."
>>>>  Homer: "Okay, I will!"
>
>
>
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