[NFBC-Info] Positive Change

Lauren Merryfield lauren7877 at outlook.com
Mon Dec 14 22:35:22 UTC 2020

Hi, everyone,
I am still involved in a negative ongoing incident in the NFB, however, I am not quitting. My loyalty is too strong for that. I would encourage those who are contemplating leaving our Federation to please think again. Please, with your negative experiences, stay or come back, in order to work with us to make sure nothing negative happens to you or anyone else you know in the NFB.

I have always been one to promote love, kindness, and the cessation of any negative treatment in our NFB.
Sometimes, I have been treated somewhat like the hippie that I am "Oh that's Kum Bah y" thinking; all hearts and rainbows and cats, like a little kid not facing reality," type comments.

 "When are you ever going to grow up?" Well, I'm not. Many grown ups in my life were somewhere between stuck where they were, to abusive. I decided at a young age I was never going to be like that.

 It needs to be stated that there is a difference between being "childish" and "child-like." I represent the latter. That is my style.

We say we are a family. I read once that the normal family is dysfunctional. So, the dysfunctional behavior in the NFB is normal. however, this doesn't make negative behavior in our organization okay, just as such behavior is not okay in a dysfunctional family.

I think it is important to realize this fact, but to make ours a "functional" family, with more love, respect, kindness, acceptance, treatment as equals, etc, toward being a healthy family! 
Lauren Merryfield❤

-----Original Message-----
From: NFBC-Info <nfbc-info-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of president--- via NFBC-Info
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2020 2:01 PM
To: 'NFB of California List' <nfbc-info at nfbnet.org>
Cc: president at nfbcal.org
Subject: [NFBC-Info] Positive Change

Dear Friends,


Some have recently been discussing the history of sexual harassment and disrespectful behavior within the activities of our organization.  I welcome a loving and considerate discussion.  We should validate those in our family who have been hurt in the past by their blind colleagues.  For those who raised concerns, I hear you and understand your frustration.  We must affirmatively work to improve so that this inappropriate behavior is absolutely eliminated.  


Every blind person, regardless of background, wherever they might be on their journey in life, deserves to benefit from the unique life-changing experiences of the National Federation of the Blind and the remarkable training it provides.  We cannot succeed in our struggle for equality if we injure our fellows and exploit our peers.  Racism, sexual harassment, discrimination, elitism, exploitation, apathy, and corrupt motivation are unfortunate flaws of our society.  Without exception, our Federation has been vulnerable to these dangerous diseases of selfish behavior that distract from our collective impact.  


We are a people's movement.  The individuality of the people are simultaneously our greatest strength and greatest struggle.  But I believe in the capacity of humans to grow smarter, become better, and advance for good on the whole.  


As President of our California affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind, I reaffirm my commitment and our organization's commitment to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment that is safe for everyone.  I will do everything within my power to act upon the concerns that have been raised and support the leaders of our movement in response.  


If you have been the victim of such harmful mistreatment, my heart breaks for the injustice and injury that you experienced.  you have my sympathy, apology, and devotion to earn your trust back.


We can and will do more.  As a leader, I promise not just to react, but to affirmatively prevent.  I will work to see the "culture of consent" that we discussed at our most recent state convention become the norm.  I will help educate our long-standing leaders in California to ensure that our leadership structure understands the relevance of this moment in our evolving movement.  I will affirmatively seek diverse leaders and role models to ensure that blind people from all cross sections have a voice in the solution.  I will take time to further understand the nature of these problems and how other organizations have made progress.  I will work as an ally with those who want to support our national leaders' effort to advance positive change.


We need to have this conversation to figure out what more needs to be done.
And we need to have it without disenfranchising or further harming blind people.  The Federation is ours to build.  Please help me and the many other leaders and members who want to be a part of the solution and commit to change and healing.


Tim Elder


National Federation of the Blind of California 

president at nfbcal.org <mailto:president at nfbcal.org>  

(916) 382-0372 



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