The title is a conundrum as it really hides other underlying themes that question…what’s ahead for all persons as we navigate into 2017 with a more divided country in terms of ethnicity and classifications. As an American, I am an unwilling witness to many acts that are diminishing the best attributes about us and it is leaving unfortunately, in more groups than I can fathom, emptiness and a lessening of empathy for those who only want to be thought of as equals. Their dreams of hope lies in this place we flaunt as the “land of the free.” Freedom. Being limitless in seeking this freedom is a driving power that exudes throughout our blood, within us… no matter the ability or absence of a perceived ability. Thankfully these acts have not totally eclipsed the hope that a majority has for our country and the world. I am one of those and if you are reading this blog, you may be one as well.
The Encarta dictionary defines inclusive as “not excluding any group or section of society.”
Embracing all as one is lofty, and in view of our current and progressing state, some will agree an unattainable aspiration. This has been evidenced by the latest news account of the four Chicagoan’s who kidnapped and tortured an 18-year-old man with special needs. It was live streamed on Facebook, another reflection of the power and role of social media, although at the core of this travesty is hate.
The one emotion that separates us the most in this country was borne from decades of supremacy by race, religion and cultures. The categorization of certain individuals by their differences permeates societies across the globe. A person with special needs, a person with a disability, a black person, a white person, a teen, an older person, etc., we are already defined by an excess of groups that it is second nature to further define by entitlement. This is our downfall and especially in the confluence of society that has been cordoned off for persons with disabilities (PWD’s). So then, being inclusive becomes interchangeable with separation in this particular instance, a graying and fading of the promise it holds.
I am beyond ready to change this fallacy that has been thrust upon PWD’s, because in truth sometimes I feel we ALL have some type of disability. It may not be the noticeable visages society has deemed the poster board picture for PWD’s, but we have our own differences that we assign a negative characteristic (as society has already predicated), such as low self-esteem, or the inability to be promoted at work, or that left twitch in your eye…it could be anything at any point in our lives when we feel less than.
So why can’t we see ourselves as all different and be okay with that?
The methodical way the 18-year-old victim was tortured, ridiculed and shamed leads back to the perceptions the perpetrators have assigned to PwD’s. Where was the remorse or guilt when they were apprehended? It was as if they were attacking a non-entity. In fact, as reported by the Justice Department, “People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be the victims of violent crimes as those without disabilities, according to a Justice Department report based on Census Bureau surveys. And people with mental disabilities are the most likely to be victimized.
Shari Runner, the president of the Chicago Urban League, described what had played out on social media as disturbing on several levels — the deeply troubling acts themselves, presented live with seeming indifference, followed by suggestions that Black Lives Matter was responsible. People of all races, Ms. Runner said, had been “very outraged here in Chicago that anybody would do these things.”
In the end we have another horrific tale to capture our attention on the fast paced highway of social media; we have outrage, then what? Where are our solutions? Please share your ideas and thoughts.
It is so easy to be hopeful in the daytime when you can see the things you wish on. But it was night, it stayed night. Night was striding across nothingness with the whole round world in his hands.
— Zora Neale Hurston