[nabs-l] Stop Blaming the Economy & MLK JR. Rememberence & His View of the U.S. Economy

Jamie Principato blackbyrdfly at gmail.com
Tue Jan 21 22:23:27 UTC 2014

Very well said! I have had a number of these experiences myself, and have seen, firsthand, many of my peers deal with the same sorts of discrimination. Once, my partner and I were made to get off a bus and walk to our destination because we refused to sit in the front and force a young man with a broken ankle to give up his seat to us and stand in the back. I was once denied service at a restaurant I visited with a group of blind friends because they had no Braille menu, and when asked if we had a sighted chaperone in our party, we said no. (We were totally capable of using the online menu via smartphones). I was recently not only denied a job at an ice cream shop due to the manager's assertion that the job would be too demanding for me and they didn't have the staff she believed were needed to train and assist me. She dismissed me almost instantly and wouldn't even take my resume. I've been told by more than one institution to go to another school that caters more to the needs of people like me. I've been physically prevented from using escalators, stairways and moving sidewalks, and even expected to forfeit my freedom to walk freely by sitting in a wheelchair at airports, when all I ever ask for is brief directions to security lines. And the list goes on. The problem with this kind of discrimination, and the reason some may shy away from even labeling it as such, is that it's often done out of a combination of ignorance and concern for safety/liability, rather than malice, but the actions are still discriminatory and result in many among us having to endure treatment that is, in fact, subhuman (I.e. Less than adult human of average cognitive ability). 


Sent from my iPhone

> On Jan 21, 2014, at 2:37 PM, "Steve Jacobson" <steve.jacobson at visi.com> wrote:
> Joe,
> It is more than appropriate as we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday to consider what African-Americans have 
> endured over time and still endure.  I sometimes am a little uneasy when the parallels between what we have 
> experienced as blind persons is drawn too closely to the experience of African-Americans.  To that extent, I agree 
> with what you said.  Having said that, your statement that "Anyone who thinks the struggles of the collective 
> blind are remotely similar to the struggles of African-Americans is severely misguided," also seems extreme.
> There are certainly large differences between our experiences as blind persons and those experienced by other 
> mistreated groups here in the United States and around the world.  The motivations are different for one thing as 
> you also pointed out, and the level of endangerment is not the same.  The fact that we have a sort of safety net 
> that other groups do not have is significant.  It is unlikely that a blind person in the United States would be 
> left homeless or allowed to starve provided he or 
> she new which services might be available. 
> Still, to say that we are misguided to even think our struggles are remotely similar seems to ignore some of our 
> history.  You should talk to parents who have had their children removed from their care simply because everyone 
> knows blind people can't be safe parents.  They might have a remote sense of what it feels like to at least not be 
> seen as an adult.  Talk to the man who, when taking his nine-year-old daughter and her friend to an amusement park 
> was told that his daughter had to sit with him instead of her friend because they required that he have a 
> responsible adult with him.  A "responsible adult" was defined as being more than four feet or so tall without age 
> limits.  In case you have read about that and know that it happened twenty years ago, ask me how I felt when last 
> summer a flight attendant ask my children to split up and each sit with their mother and father to take care of 
> them on the flight.  Ask a close friend of mine how it felt to have the airlines force the stranger sitting next 
> to her to be responsible for her.  Ask me how it felt to have a potential employer tell me that they would not 
> hire me because they could not spare another employee to be on call to bring me too and from the bathroom.  While 
> we are at it, ask me how I felt last week when a hospital staff person refused to give me directions to the stairs 
> because they were not safe for me but would direct me to the elevator.  Ask 
> someone I knew personally how he felt when the sheltered workshop for which he worked tested his speed to 
> calculate his subminimum wages on machinery that was defective, and only as soon as he arrived or just before 
> quitting time when he was likely to work least efficiently?  Ask another friend of mine how it felt to be denied a 
> teaching position because the school district required a specific level of vision.  Ask the numerous blind people 
> who, before the mid-1950's, were not allowed to apply for civil service jobs because they were blind, how they 
> felt.  An African-American member several decades ago was involved in a protest over a policy that required blind 
> people to sit in the very front "priority seating for the handicapped" seats on busses.  He remarked that he never 
> thought he would have to fight for the right to sit in the back of the bus.  He understood that it is as wrong to 
> tell responsible adults they have to sit at the front of the bus as it is to assign them to the back of the bus 
> even if the motives were different.  
> We face many barriers now.  Some of our accessibility issues with technology are very important to keep us from 
> sliding back into the back rooms of society.  Yet, our battles are not all of the same significance, and it is 
> right for us to take some care when drawing parallels.  Nevertheless, I have really just scratched the surface 
> above, and most of my examples involve people I know personally.  How many other situations go unnoticed or 
> unresolved.  Some of our battles are not as critical as others we have fought, nor are they of the nature of the 
> battles faced by others.  I believe it is therefore reasonable for us to 
> take some care as to how we draw parallels.  
> Still, when I listen to Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, it often brings chills and even tears.  He exhibited 
> so much courage as he worked to change society.  I can remember the news coverage of the demonstrations when the 
> Little Rock schools were ordered to integrate in the late 1950's, and it made Dr. King's dream seem real to me 
> even though I am a very fortunate white American who did not have to face those struggles.  But I also found his 
> words to fit my dream of blind people not having to worry about having their kids taken away or having the deck 
> stacked against us when evaluating our speed in a workshop or being eliminated from consideration for a job 
> because of an irrelevant visual requirement.  I have a feeling that Dr. King would understand that deciding for 
> someone that they should sit at the front of the bus because of someone else's perceived sense of safety is at 
> least remotely similar to having someone requiring that someone else sit at the back of the bus because of their 
> race.  I believe he would see that there is a similarity between being required to use a particular drinking 
> fountain and being required to use an elevator because someone else has decided the stairs were not safe.  Are 
> these examples completely equal in their severity?  No, of course not, but I maintain that they are "remotely 
> similar" to use your words.
> Best regards,
> Steve Jacobson
>> On Mon, 20 Jan 2014 12:26:41 -0500, Joe wrote:
>> Anyone who thinks the struggles of the collective blind are remotely similar
>> to the struggles of African-Americans is severely misguided. It is true that
>> blind people are discriminated for being perceived as helpless, but
>> African-Americans face, and in some cases continue to face, discrimination
>> for being thought of as less than human. I think Martin Luther King would
>> have appreciated laws that would have protected his people from employment
>> discrimination. I think he would have loved laws that intercede in the
>> interest of a child's equal educational opportunities. We may not have
>> always counted on Braille bathroom labels, but we have certainly enjoyed
>> equal access to them. Similarly, we may not count on these laws and policies
>> always working, but the privileges we enjoy have always surpassed the
>> disadvantages of a lot of other underserved and vulnerable populations. And
>> yet, despite the challenges African-Americans faced, MLK used this very same
>> speech you share to promote the hard work African-Americans were doing to
>> build housing and create jobs throughout a troubled region traditionally
>> rallied against them. If anything, you prove the point that it can be done.
>> It seems grossly incompetent to pretend the challenges of a population that
>> can receive monthly checks, special transportation, special hiring
>> authorities, and in some cases free college tuition are anything like the
>> struggles of our African-American peers.
>> Joe
>> --
>> Twitter: @ScribblingJoe
>> Visit my blog:
>> http://joeorozco.com/blog
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