"One of Your Kind..."

Ok, Deja's more serious side is about to pop out...so picture me, stepping up on my soap box, clearing my throat and...

It seems as though the days of the big civil Rights battles of our country are over, and then something like this makes me think, maybe not so much!

The following occurred at a conference, in Chicago last year, a conference of "BLINDNESS PROFESSIONALS..." a.k.a. those who work with the blind on a daily basis...

A group of my blind peers and I, from my Master's Degree program, were walking through a hotel lobby--now to preface this, there are people out there who think blind people (like me) should NOT be cane travel instructors--as we were walking through the hotel lobby, one of my classmates, was falling behind from the group by a few feet. An older gentleman, a blindness professional himself, stopped me and said,

"One of YOUR KIND is back there!"

In complete shock I froze wondering if I had just imagined what I heard, or if I had somehow time-warped back 60 years. Did this man really just say, ONE OF YOUR KIND!?!

I was not heroic in a response to this man, instead I stood there at a loss for any sort of emotion. I said nothing to the man at that moment. Mind you, I am not comparing my experience to any great civil rights movement but I did stop right there, in a hotel lobby in central Chicago in 2008, with discrimination staring me in the face.

When, where and why did I become part of a "KIND" of people? I just thought I was part of humankind.

The saddest thing of all is this comment came from a man who makes his daily living, teaching the blind. He's a person who should be empowering and encouraging those he teaches.

This same conference we walked on plastic strips laid down on the carpet in which we were supposed to walk on and follow to various conference rooms throughout the hotel in order to avoid getting lost. While the four of us (all blind) stood in a circle conversing about where we would go to dinner, another man walked passed us and said, "Try not to kill too many blind people!" Again, we stared at each other in a complete loss for words, for if we would have lived in a time where such degradation was prominent, we may have been more prepared to react.

Never have I had such an eye-opening experience. For if this is how some people who WORK WITH THE BLIND feel, what else is out there?

When will it happen, when people start to realize that plastic strips laid out for us to follow, 1,000 page books which include sections on "How to bathe a blind person", and "Steps to sitting in a chair" are de-grading and de-meaning!?!

We still have a mighty battle to fight, the days of fighting for civil rights is far from over for the blind.

*Getting down off of Soap Box now!

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