[nabs-l] Microaggression and unconscious biases towards blind people and people with disabilities

James Alan Boehm jab2bs at mtmail.mtsu.edu
Sat Apr 16 15:15:09 UTC 2016


I think we have all encountered the restaurant situation or the setting where someone  continues to ask to help us. As far as that is concerned, I agree it can be very frustrating. But we also need to look at why some people act the way they act. Is it because of the stereotypes only? Are there any other factors? As being someone who used to be sighted, and knowing sighted individuals, the way some were raised is when you see someone who is old, looks like they are struggling, have their hands full of groceries, whether blind or not, it is polite and thoughtful to lend a helping hand.We talk about society and how thoughtless they are and how selfish they are. But when a person lends a helping hand, we then want to "slap them in the face. It is ture that sometimes a person , once told we do not need their help, is insistent on helping. This is definitely frustrating.I have been there. BUt this is usually not becasue of ill intentions. They just need to be educated. How we respondto such individuals will either confirm their stereotypes( such as these blind people sure are rude and arrogant or I appreciate the  person who is blind educating me and helping me to see things from their perspective in a respectful manner). 
	As a student in psychology, we must not only look at what the person does, but why and what influenced the person to act in a certain way. We must look at the big picture before we can understand and then find ways to successfully educate the ill-informed.

James Alan Boehm
Phone: 901-483-1515
Personal Email: jimmydagerman80 at gmail.com
Refer NFB correspondences to:
secretary at nfb-tn.org

"Blindness never limits- Low expectations do! Live the life you want!"

> On Apr 16, 2016, at 10:00 AM, STOMBERG, KENNEDY via nabs-l <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> 
> Agreeed! When I am in those situations, I will often look directly at the
> waiter, and say, "I'm right here. My name is Kennedy, and if you would like
> to know what I want, maybe you should ask me."
> 
> Two aditional microagressions come to mind.
> First, it really bothers me when people assume I need help. For example, I
> could be walking somewhere uon campus, and someone might come up to me and
> say, "Where do you want to go? I will help you." (This is often accompanied
> by the person grabbing my arm, that same microagression that Joseph
> mentionedff) I usually respond by saying, "I am going to such and such a
> place, but I don't need help. Thank you." What makes the situation worse
> though is that the person will often say, "Oh! Are you sure? Because I
> don't mind. Really, I don't!" At that point, I respond more firmly, "No
> thank you." And of course, by this time, I'm trying to resist the urge to
> slap the person...
> 
> The second microagression is when sighted people commit a microagression,
> and then tell me to "please be patient"   when I correct them. I understand
> that no one is perfect! Sometimes, I am going to have to explain things,
> and that's all right. But if I am using microagressions and don't realize
> it, I want to be corrected! I find it frustrating when my sighted piers
> tell me that my correcting them is impatient.
> 
> I am so glad we are having this conversation. I read somewhere that when
> the steriotypes of any minority group are constantly brought to the
> surface, it's very psychologically damaging, and can lead to
> under-performance in many areas, which often perpetuates the steriotypes! I
> think this is definitely true for me and other blind people, though of
> course we almost always manage to rise above these ridiculous
> microagressions and steriotypes!
> 
> Honestly though, I was starting to think that the microagressions I was
> noticing were just me being petty! So, I'm happy to know that others are
> experiencing the same things, though it sucks that anyone has to!
> 
> Kennedy Stomberg
> 
> 
> On Sat, Apr 16, 2016 at 8:05 AM, justin williams via nabs-l <
> nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> 
>> Yeap, and I don't tip them either.  I tell them why also.
>> Justin
>> 
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: nabs-l [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Jason
>> Polansky
>> via nabs-l
>> Sent: Saturday, April 16, 2016 9:04 AM
>> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list <nabs-l at nfbnet.org
>>> 
>> Cc: Jason Polansky <jpolansky.nfb at gmail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Microaggression and unconscious biases towards blind
>> people and people with disabilities
>> 
>> I agree with Phil and Joseph. Something at the top of my head is sometimes
>> when we go to restaurants, the waiter or waitress will ask fy friends or
>> family members and say "What does he want to eat?", like we can't talk for
>> ourselves because we're blind.
>> 
>> On Sat, Apr 16, 2016 at 5:42 AM Joseph C. Lininger via nabs-l <
>> nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> 
>>> Off the top of my head, there are two things that could be classified
>>> in your words as microaggression that really get to me. The first is
>>> unsolicited touching. Many people seem to think it's ok to touch a
>>> blind person without asking permission or otherwise violate our
>>> personal space in a way they would never dream of doing if the person
>>> were sighted. The second one is when a person sees you as blind first,
>>> and maybe something else second. I say maybe because blind may be all
>>> you are to them. What I mean by this is that every time they talk to
>>> you they always bring up the blindness in every conceivable situation.
>>> If you try to address them normally for something like a work related
>>> issue, they will change the subject to blindness. If they see you in
>>> the hallway, they will make a comment about the blindness. You get the
>>> idea. I understand curiosity, and I'm not offended by that. What I am
>>> offended by though is when it is impossible to speak to a person
>>> without them bringing that up. (I know one person who I have known for
>>> almost 3 years, so at this point it's starting to get a bit
>>> ridiculous)
>>> 
>>> As for unconscious biases, it's interesting you bring that up because
>>> I was just talking to a friend about that this last week. I was
>>> telling him that it is often times hard for a blind person to find
>>> employment, even when qualified because of biases held by the hiring
>>> manager for instance. I told him the worst part of that, at least in
>>> my opinion, is that it doesn't even have to be something that a person
>>> does consciously. A person can be absolutely convinced they have no
>>> negative thoughts about blindness, yet their behavior indicates
>>> otherwise. You can't even address it in that case because they are
>>> absolutely convinced it doesn't exist.
>>> 
>>> I had an experience related to this just a couple of months ago. I was
>>> talking to someone about the possibility of a future work opportunity.
>>> This guy had said in the same conversation that he doesn't even notice
>>> the blindness and that he treats me like everyone else. Then, a few
>>> minutes later he said, "well, I'm assuming you wouldn't want to work
>>> at this location because the layout of the area is weird." If you
>>> bring it to his attention though, even with that comment, he'll deny
>>> he has any such views. It's not a dishonesty thing either; he is
>>> actually convinced he doesn't harbour opinions like that.
>>> Joe
>>> 
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