[nabs-l] Why Are You a Member of the NFB?

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 04:05:23 UTC 2015


Hi all,
Excellent questions.
For me, I wouldn't go as far as many Federationists do to say the NFB
transformed my life on its own. I already had the conviction that it
was respectable to be blind, I never experienced any change in my
vision to adjust to, I already knew blind people. However, when I
joined the NFB in hig school and college, I did get a lot of practical
assistance in making he most of my life. The single biggest way the
NFB influenced my life was by introducing me to LCB where I received
the cooking and travel skills that other instructors had not taught
me. Another way the NFB benefited me practically was by introducing me
to competent blind college students and professionals. In short, I
think my life would have been OK without the NFB, but being part of
the NFB made my life great. That said, when I met NFB members, I
already agreed with the core philosophy, which is what motivated me to
join.

The NFB is a people's movement. Each person's experience with the NFB
is going to depend on the individual members they meet and on what
they put into it. Unfortunately, some people have bad or disappointing
encounters with the NFB. We often don't hear from those people. I
think we need to listen to the stories from folks who have become
disillusioned or let down by the NFB at least as much as we hear the
success stories, because we need to know how to make things better for
everyone. Elizabeth, I commend you for continuing to dialogue with us.
I also think that the NFB is just one of many resources each of us can
use to live the lives we want. Some people wil have absolutely
life-altering positive encounters with the NFB, but for others,
joining the NFB may just be one of many things that contributes to
their growth.
Best, Arielle

On 1/19/15, Justin Salisbury via nabs-l <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Dear Elizabeth,
>
> Thank you for catalyzing this discussion. I'm going to reply with my
> knee-jerk answers and may follow up later if more ideas develop. I think the
> answer that comes by reflex can be the most authentic.
>
> Why do you choose to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind?
> The National Federation of the Blind has created so many opportunities for
> me and changed the world before I was even born. When I became a blind
> person in 2005, the society that I faced was much better because of the 65
> years of work of the National Federation of the Blind. I believe it is my
> duty to the people who came before me (people I will never meet) and to
> those blind people of the future to carry the baton and run my leg of the
> race. I actually keep a quote from Dr. Jernigan's speech about climbing the
> stairs to freedom in my email signature. You can read it if you like.
> I also have found so many mentors through the Federation who have changed my
> life by changing how I look at it. Before I found the Federation, I used to
> wield blindness as a source of pity to get scholarship money and to impress
> news reporters with the fact that I would get out of bed every morning. At
> my first NFB event, a state convention where I was a scholarship winner, I
> was trying to complain about how hard science was as a blind person. Three
> blind people surrounded me and started encouraging me, telling me that the
> Federation would help me get through it. They were a chemist, a civil
> engineer, and an environmental scientist. I wanted pity, but they wouldn't
> let me give up on myself. Still today, we have 50,000 blind people who won't
> accept low expectations for blind people. We have training centers that give
> people their lives back-or give them the lives they never had but always
> deserved. I can't not be  a part of that.
>
> If you believe your experience with the National Federation of the blind is
> a positive one, what do you believe are the key factors that you believe
> makes your experience positive rather than negative?
>
> 1. Good Mentoring
> 2. Good Blind Role Models
> 3. Learning about leadership
> 4. Helping other people by empowering them
> 5. Nourishment in the philosophy that equips me to face the low expectations
> in society and do it effectively
> 6. Friendship with a lot of great people
> 7. Let's not forget all the fun! Things like room parties at national
> convention, pie-in-the-face fundraisers, latin dancing, you name it!
>
> And finally, what do you believe are the current strengths of the National
> Federation of the Blind as it looks into the future?
>
> 1. Relationship-oriented leadership: our personal relationships in our
> movement help carry us through the tough times and are still fun in the good
> times
> 2. Focus on a common goal: We're all fighting for the same thing.
> 3. Giving each other second chances: For example, I made some pretty bad
> mistakes in my campaign for NABS President, and a lot of the NABS members
> and leaders-and National Federation of the Blind members and leaders-could
> have chosen to never let me live those down. The totem animal in my Native
> American name is the Phoenix, which can burst into flame and be reborn any
> time it wants to reinvent itself. I have been able to reinvent myself, but a
> necessary part of that is others' willingness to let me. I bring this up
> because, no matter what it is that people have on you or against you, if
> they are truly leaders in our movement, they will give you a chance to
> reinvent yourself. It's all about us getting to the same common goals,
> right?
> 4. We have a rock-solid understanding of something that is true. The
> National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
> characterist that defines you or your future. Every day, we raise the
> expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
> between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want;
> blindness is not what holds you back.
>
> With much love for my Federation family,
>
> Justin Salisbury
>
> Justin Salisbury - Running Thunder Phoenix
> Graduate Student
> Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness
> Louisiana Tech University
> Email: jms132 at latech.edu
> Twitter: @SalisburyJustin
>
> But, of course, we will not fail. We will continue to climb. Our heritage
> demands it; our faith confirms it; our humanity requires it. Whatever the
> sacrifice, we will make it. Whatever the price, we will pay it. Seen from
> this perspective, the hostility and backlash (the challenges and
> confrontations) are hardly worth noticing. They are only an irritant. My
> brothers and my sisters, the future is ours. Come! Join me on the stairs,
> and we will finish the journey.
> - Dr. Kenneth Jernigan
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nabs-l [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Elizabeth
> Mohnke via nabs-l
> Sent: Monday, January 19, 2015 8:52 PM
> To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
> Subject: [nabs-l] Why Are You a Member of the NFB?
>
> Hello All,
>
> It appears to me that I have started to become a rather disheartened member
> of the NFB. Although, I am sure some of you would argue that I am already
> there. Anyway, as I try to work through the questions that seem to keep
> rumbling through my mind, I thought I would ask a few questions to spur on
> some discussion on this email list.
>
> Why do you choose to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind? If
> you believe your experience with the National Federation of the blind is a
> positive one, what do you believe are the key factors that you believe makes
> your experience positive rather than negative? And finally, what do you
> believe are the current strengths of the National Federation of the Blind as
> it looks into the future?
>
> Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions, or any other
> question related to these ones. If you feel as though you relate more to
> being a member of the National Association of Blind Students rather than the
> National Federation of the Blind as a whole, you can answer these questions
> from this point of view as well.
>
> I look forward to hearing your responses.
>
> Warm regards,
> Elizabeth
>
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