[nabs-l] Blindness vs. Other Minority Groups

Julie McGinnity kaybaycar at gmail.com
Tue Nov 8 04:06:27 UTC 2011


Hi Jedi and everyone.

I've conditioned my dog to stop by beginning to stop myself when
people grab me.  Actually, I didn't need to condition her for when
people grabe my left(dog) arm.  She really does not like that.  But
now we're working on stopping when people grab my right arm as well.
Generally my dog will just ignore people who grab my right arm, but
this, as some of you might know, will just make the person tug harder
in the direction they want you to go.

About the smile: I think part of it is the fact that I am a rather
smiley person.  The other (and bigger) part of it is that I don't
think we will get anywhere by being grumpy about it.  Now if someone
keeps grabbing me or doing other things even though I have told them
repeatedly not to, that is a different story.  I will get quite
agrivated, but you can be firm, serious, and calmly polite all at
once.

I know there are different views on this.  Why should we be smiley and
happy when someone is truely being annoying to us?  I don't think
there is a law that says you have to be nice about it, but I believe
that people are more likely to listen to me if I talk to them like a
friend or an equal instead of their enemy just as I am more likely to
listen to someone tell me about their life if they are telling me
calmly how it is different from mine instead of being harsh and rude.

I think I was just so surprised that she didn't listen to me that the
words didn't even come.  I'm so used to my other accompanist, who has
learned that I do not need to be guided on the stage.  I really do
think that some sighted people take it as a matter of course that we
need help, so they just help and don't even think twice about it.
They are trained by the media or whatever that we need help with the
various things we do, so it doesn't enter their mind that we might not
want it or need it.  This is not an excuse, but we need to understand
this when dealing with them.  We need to talk to them under the
impression that they can and are willing to learn, that is, if we want
to teach them.  Of course I don't think every day should be an
educational day on the abilities of the blind.  Lol  We have lives
too.



On 11/7/11, Jedi <loneblindjedi at samobile.net> wrote:
> That's exactly what i'm interested in. I'm getting this book on
> encounter groups in the next week or two. I'll let you know how it goes
> as I read it.
>
> Respectfully Submitted
>
> Original message:
>> I wonder if a society goes through different stages of "acceptance"
>> for a minority group within that society. And if so, whether "you're
>> pretty smart for a blind person" is one of those stages, just like in
>> some other countries a few decades ago, people did make comments such
>> as "you are pretty smart for a women", but now these countries have
>> much better gender equity. The optimistic news is that advancements
>> made by the other minority groups show that indeed this change can
>> happen.  The question is what are these stages, and what different
>> strategies and tactics did other minority groups deploy at different
>> stages to moved the society forward?  Since Arielle used women as one
>> of the comparison example, I should mention that the World Economic
>> Forum just issued its flatest Global Gender Gap Ranking Report last
>> week. The world ranking is a de facto illustration of different stages
>> of gender equity in different countries, and perhaps the blind
>> community can compare ourselves to these countries and see what stage
>> we are at now, and what are some of the best practices women in those
>> countries are using to move their societies to the next stage of
>> acceptance and inclusion, as well as countries where the wrong tactics
>> were used and hence are still stuck at the same stages for a decade.
>
>> On 11/7/11, Julie McGinnity <kaybaycar at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi all.
>
>>> I know this was mentioned a bit in previous messages, but I think the
>>> big difference is the fact that sighted people believe that we are
>>> always in need of help.  They take it as a matter of course that we
>>> are helpless and can't do whatever it is by ourselves.  Now I am
>>> speaking generally; I do not mean all sighted people.
>
>>> I don't believe that other minority groups deal with this problem.
>>> White people don't try to help African Americans with simple tasks
>>> without asking them if they need it as sighted people often do to the
>>> blind.  When blind people refuse help or get annoyed when they are
>>> treated differently, then the sighted people are offended when the
>>> blind speak and advocate for themselves.
>
>>> I actually think that educating complete strangers is easier than
>>> educating people I know.  I have been called angry and prideful
>>> because I refuse to allow people to grab my arm and propell me along,
>>> and I get very frustrated with people who will not talk to me in favor
>>> of speaking to my sighted friends.  It was said to me by a friend that
>>> I should just deal with it and accept the help because it is easier
>>> that way.  I don't even know if this person even understood how
>>> offensive that comment was to me.
>
>>> When I am in the middle of a situation where in I have to educate
>>> someone, I try to handle it with firm politeness.  It helps to keep a
>>> smile in place and explain it as though these things happen all the
>>> time, which they do.  You can complain and rant to your friends later.
>>>  :)
>
>>> The other problem is that there really is a time and a place for
>>> advocacy and education.  I am a performer, so I must walk on stage.  I
>>> prefer to do this independently.  I am a singer, and I work with an
>>> accompanist.  We have been working together for about five years.  She
>>> knows that I will walk on stage on my own.  This weekend at a singing
>>> competition I had to work with another accompanist.  This one thought
>>> it necessary to grab my arm and stop me at my place in front of the
>>> piano and try to turn me around to face the audience.  I was stuck.  I
>>> could not give her a speach then and there of course, but I was afraid
>>> that it would look bad that she was litterally trying to turn me
>>> around like I didn't know which way to face on my own.
>
>>> Unfortunately, even when I tried to explain it to her later, she did
>>> not understand.  I have also taught my guide dog to stop when people
>>> grab my arm.  This is actually quite fun.  The person trying to pull
>>> me along will get annoyed and inquire as to why I am not moving.  When
>>> I explain calmly that my dog stops when people try to guide me because
>>> it is her job to guide me, and she does not need to compete with
>>> others, they understand and don't get too offended.
>
>>> This is a very interesting thread, and I've been enjoying reading
>>> about all your thoughts and experiences.
>
>>> On 11/6/11, Jedi <loneblindjedi at samobile.net> wrote:
>>>> Chris,
>
>>>> People of Color have had to deal with misconceptions about their
>>>> capabilities and still do. For along time, there was a psychological
>>>> science devoted to explaining how Black people are mentally inferior to
>>>> White people in order to justify segregation and the prejudice that
>>>> African Americans face in schools. Lots of White people still think
>>>> that Blacks are more prone to violence and stealing than Whites. And
>>>> don't get me started on GLBT: you'd be horrified to learn what they go
>>>> through. The point is that discrimination and prejudice, as well as
>>>> misconceptions about their cabilities and characteristics, are alive
>>>> and well; people have just gotten a lot better at hiding their negative
>>>> judgments. And as to the disabled populus, I think the reason why
>>>> people don't hide their prejudices is because they don't associate that
>>>> kind of prejudice with hatred, a certainly undesireable attitude
>>>> socially speaking.
>
>>>> Respectfully,
>>>> Jedi
>
>>>> Original message:
>>>>> Hi Arielle,
>
>>>>> You raise some good points here, and I hope this starts a good
>>>>> discussion; one that I believe is good to have.  In my opinion,
>>>>> the difference between the public's stereotyping and
>>>>> discrimination of blind people and that of other minority groups
>>>>> is this: blind people have to deal with more misconceptions about
>>>>> us.  In other words, there are still widely-held misconceptions
>>>>> about us and what we can and cannot do, which are held by the
>>>>> public as being true.  This, of course, is a generalisation; not
>>>>> all of the public believes these misconceptions to be true,
>>>>> especially those members of the public who work directly with us
>>>>> or are friends or relatives of a blind person; those who know
>>>>> from experience what blind people can do.  It seems to me that
>>>>> these misconceptions are passed down through the generations;
>>>>> from one generation to their children, then passed on to those
>>>>> children's children, then to their children, and to their
>>>>> children, and so on.  When these beliefs are taught for a long
>>>>> time and are handed down through the generations, it becomes
>>>>> easier for people to believe them and they mostly do.  These
>>>>> misconceptions, which are widely believed by a vast majority of
>>>>> the public, are the beliefs from which the stereotyping and
>>>>> discrimination stem.  Then, the misconceptions of the public
>>>>> directly effect us, as we then become the object of
>>>>> discrimination and stereotypes.  To me, other minority groups
>>>>> don't have this problem.  Take the African-Americans for example.
>>>>> Are there any widely-held misconceptions about what they can do
>>>>> and how successful they can be? No! Are there any doubts as to
>>>>> their ability to compete on terms of equality with their white
>>>>> piers? No! Are their any questions about their ability to be
>>>>> employed? No! Even during the segregation era, this group was not
>>>>> discriminated against for the reason that there were
>>>>> misconceptions held by the white that they couldn't be on terms
>>>>> of equality with everybody else in society, but for the simple
>>>>> reason that they were different! During this time, I think the
>>>>> majority, the white population, forgot the undisputed fact that
>>>>> all people are different, and that having a different skin color
>>>>> doesn't justify looking down on a person.  The beliefs about
>>>>> blind people which make people discriminate against us are of a
>>>>> different character than the beliefs which make people
>>>>> discriminate against other minorities.  The difference is that
>>>>> the beliefs about blindness which cause discrimination against us
>>>>> to happen are stemmed from a lack of education about the truth
>>>>> about blindness, whereas the beliefs which make people
>>>>> discriminate against other minorities (I'm talking about
>>>>> minorities based on skin color, religion, political beliefs,
>>>>> sexual orientation, etc.) are just based on relatively untrue
>>>>> stereotypes and thoughts.  Therefore, people who might stereotype
>>>>> or discriminate against us wouldn't tolerate discrimination based
>>>>> on race, religion, etc, because the times have changed and the
>>>>> misconceptions and discrimination have no justification
>>>>> whatsoever, nor are even legal, in the case of outright
>>>>> discrimination.  However, they would stereotype about us because
>>>>> they don't have the education about blindness to see the fact
>>>>> that these stereotypes aren't justified either.  For this reason,
>>>>> we have organizations such as the Federation to educate and
>>>>> advocate.  We have a special responsibility, in my opinion, that
>>>>> many other minority groups don't have; to educate the public.  We
>>>>> have to make sure everybody knows what blind people really can do
>>>>> and prove that we can compete on terms of equality with our
>>>>> sighted piers.  Other minority groups have proven this already,
>>>>> and the little discrimination that still exists is generally
>>>>> thought to be ridiculous and baseless.  However, the public
>>>>> doesn't think of discrimination against the blind that way,
>>>>> simply because they don't think it's discrimination! They're OK
>>>>> with it, because they aren't educated.  So, it is our job to
>>>>> educate them! I should also say that we also need to educate by
>>>>> example, meaning that we must not discriminate or stereotype
>>>>> against other people.  Those are my thoughts.
>
>>>>> Chris
>
>>>>>  ----- Original Message -----
>>>>> From: Arielle Silverman <arielle71 at gmail.com
>>>>> To: nabs-l at nfbnet.org
>>>>> Date sent: Mon, 31 Oct 2011 21:09:24 -0600
>>>>> Subject: [nabs-l] Blindness vs.  Other Minority Groups
>
>>>>> Warning-this topic has the potential to start a heated debate,
>>>>> but I
>>>>> also think it is an interesting and important topic for us as
>>>>> blind
>>>>> people to think about.
>>>>> Lately I have been thinking a lot about how the problems faced by
>>>>> the
>>>>> blind are similar to or different from those faced by other
>>>>> minority
>>>>> groups in this country historically and in the present.  More
>>>>> than
>>>>> that, I have been thinking about how the general public sees us
>>>>> as a
>>>>> group in comparison to how they view other minority groups.  It
>>>>> has
>>>>> struck me that oftentimes members of the general public treat us
>>>>> in
>>>>> discriminatory ways or stereotype us without even considering
>>>>> that
>>>>> this kind of treatment resembles stereotyping and discrimination
>>>>> against other minority groups.
>>>>> Let me give a concrete example.  In his book Freedom for the
>>>>> Blind, Jim
>>>>> Omvig writes of a time when he was directing a training center
>>>>> and a
>>>>> female staff member at the center commented, "You do your job so
>>>>> well,
>>>>> sometimes I forget you're blind!" Seeing the teachable moment,
>>>>> Mr.
>>>>> Omvig brought up this incident to his students during a
>>>>> philosophy
>>>>> class, and to illustrate his point he said to the woman, "You are
>>>>> such
>>>>> a good teacher, sometimes I forget you're a woman!" From what I
>>>>> recall, the staff member got a bit upset and insisted that "no,
>>>>> what I
>>>>> said about you being blind was very different from what you said
>>>>> about
>>>>> my being a woman.  I was just trying to give you a compliment!"
>>>>> Now, as blind people most of us understand the problem with her
>>>>> comment-the implication that being blind must not be very good,
>>>>> so
>>>>> someone who does a good job isn't like other blind people.  To me
>>>>> this
>>>>> sounds like the same problem as making the analogous comment to a
>>>>> woman-but she didn't see it that way.  Why not? Is there a
>>>>> difference
>>>>> here?
>>>>> I have often been quite frustrated when people I know and
>>>>> trust-friends or family members, who have very liberal views
>>>>> about
>>>>> race, would never utter a racial slur or support discrimination
>>>>> against racial minorities, women, gays etc.  who nonetheless have
>>>>> no
>>>>> qualms about saying negative things about blindness.  Like saying
>>>>> blind
>>>>> people are all worse than the sighted at something, or that blind
>>>>> people are more dependent or less successful than the sighted,
>>>>> etc.
>>>>> They will sometimes say these things to my face and don't
>>>>> understand
>>>>> why I don't like to hear these things.  Sometimes family members
>>>>> will
>>>>> make comments comparing me favorably to other blind people.  They
>>>>> think
>>>>> they are giving me compliments, and fail to understand that I
>>>>> don't
>>>>> want to hear negative things spoken about the blind as a
>>>>> collective.
>>>>> Yet these same people would never tell an African American that
>>>>> they
>>>>> are "smart for a black person" etc.  I remember during the
>>>>> protests
>>>>> against the Blindness film in 2008, I was perplexed by how many
>>>>> people
>>>>> just didn't get it, and didn't see what harm the film could
>>>>> do-and yet
>>>>> an analogous film where everyone developed black skin or female
>>>>> anatomy with such dire consequences would never be accepted in
>>>>> our
>>>>> modern society.  And finally, in my research, I have observed
>>>>> that the
>>>>> college students in my experiments have no problem saying on a
>>>>> survey
>>>>> that the blind are much less competent than the sighted, yet
>>>>> would
>>>>> never say such things directly about another minority group-in
>>>>> fact,
>>>>> lots of fancy indirect measures have been developed to tap those
>>>>> attitudes because people nowadays are so unwilling to admit their
>>>>> prejudices, unless it's toward the blind.
>>>>> So, what's up? Are stereotypes about the blind somehow more
>>>>> accurate
>>>>> than stereotypes about ethnic minorities? Is discrimination
>>>>> against
>>>>> the blind somehow more justified? Or is it just that we are such
>>>>> a
>>>>> small group that we haven't developed the same history, had the
>>>>> same
>>>>> scale of civil rights activism, etc.  to raise people's
>>>>> awareness? Do
>>>>> you guys think we deserve the same considerations as other
>>>>> minorities
>>>>> in this country? If not, am I missing something? If so, how do we
>>>>> get
>>>>> members of the public to see this?
>>>>> Also, as an aside, I'm curious to hear from those of you who are
>>>>> "dual
>>>>> minorities" being both blind and a member of a minority group in
>>>>> this
>>>>> country (ethnicity-wise, or a different group like GLBT, uncommon
>>>>> religious beliefs etc.) How do you think your two identities are
>>>>> similar? Different? Do you feel they interact with one another?
>>>>> I look forward to the discussion.
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> Arielle
>
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>
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>
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>
>
>>> --
>>> Julie McG
>>>  Lindbergh High School class of 2009, participating member in Opera
>>> Theater's Artist in Training Program, and proud graduate of Guiding
>>> Eyes for the Blind
>
>>> "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that
>>> everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal
>>> life."
>>> John 3:16
>
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-- 
Julie McG
 Lindbergh High School class of 2009, participating member in Opera
Theater's Artist in Training Program, and proud graduate of Guiding
Eyes for the Blind

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that
everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal
life."
John 3:16




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