8/17/09

Am I a Radical?

Many of you, I imagine, are getting a little tired of hearing about my "woes" of not being allowed to ride a particular slide in Park City, Utah. (wink, wink)

I have ran through that day a million times in my mind, asked myself if I really, "have the right" to feel the way I do? Is it really that big of a deal that I can't do a particular recreational activity, after all, it's not a "pressing matter" for blind people and there are other activities that blind people CAN do?

There are many big things going on in the area of civil rights for the blind, the growth of the Hybrid car industry, the health care crisis, the proper education of blind children, Braille literacy...the list goes on and on. And you can bet your bottom dollar that these are all issues front and center to me, issues that the blindness advocacy group I proudly stand by are investing millions of dollars and hundreds of man hours toward.

In the large spectrum of it all, it seems as though my day at Utah Olympic Park is only a blimp on the screen of the big picture. Some have asked me to not be "radical", to not be a "militant" about it, "Get over it and move on!"

For a moment I though maybe these statements were true, but then I look at the big picture. Everywhere we are in the area of fighting for civil rights for the blind started out as, "a blimp" on the screen.

I can NOT agree with the argument that the Alpine Slide is dangerous, people get injured on it, it can be unsafe...therefore a blind person really shouldn't ride it. The truth of the matter is that the the slide can be un-safe, you do take the risk of falling off and getting hurt...this only makes my point more concrete. If regular riders of the slide are taking a "willing risk" to ride the slide, why can I not take that same "willing risk," knowing full on that I may get hurt? Where is my right to choose?

I have been rock climbing, white water rafting, water and snow skiing, snorkeling, tubing, zip lining and have traveled the world. I am an adventurer, I love to try new things and I try them knowing full on the risk, just like any adventurer does.

In order to ride the Alpine Slide alone, you must be 8-years-old to do so...8!!! The age to actually ride with an adult down the slide is much younger than that. I refuse to accept that an 8 year old child has more judgement capability or control that I would myself. If the ride is safe enough for an eight year old child, it is certainly safe enough for me!

The thing is, I'm not asking for a wild rally in Park City next Saturday, I'm not about shifting the spotlight away from what's most important. We will be doing everything to get contact with the park before hand and try and discuss our stance up front; hopefully educate people. Then we will simply set out to do what I wanted to do that summer Saturday, ride a slide that MANY other blind people have rode before.

Many of you will stand by me in this seemingly small battle, and some will disagree with my decision, which I respectfully understand. My actions may seem "Radical," "Un-necessary", "Mis-Placed" to some but I'm choosing to fight this one through, because it's just the "Blimp" on the screen NOW, but when do the small things, take over the big picture?

A friend of mine in the National Federation of the Blind wrote the following poem to me:

The night before, I could hardly sleep
I even tried counting Big Horn sheep
Christmas eve was a little like this
The joy of it all, I didn’t want to miss
A day of fun, the excitement had grown
The thrill, of course, that others had known
Then, there I was, friends by my side
At last I will ride on the Alpine Slide
We laughed and joked most of the way
This was going to be an awesome day
I stood in line and paid my fee
What a fun event for my friends and me
On a ski lift I rode like all of the others
Along with the dads, the kids, and their mothers
Now into the sled I took my place
A huge smile nearly cracked my face
I waited my turn, all instructions were clear
My dream, at last, was ever so near
Suddenly I heard a man’s voice say
Out of the sled girl, no ride today
But why I ask, are you out of your mind?
It’s not me he said, it’s because you’re blind
Stunned, I stared into outer space
Gone was my joy without any trace
It was then I realized it wasn’t a joke
This matched the stories of other blind folk
Shocked, embarrassed, my feelings were dashed
Feelings of joy, and happiness now trashed
Downtrodden I felt, being kicked off of the track
I’m full of spirit and I’ll defiantly go back
Deja vu, you say, all over again?
NO – it’s Deja Powell who’s coming, and then….
This time there will be more that are blind
Maybe even a news camera following behind
So once again blind people’s rights were forbidden
Fear not Deja, that Alpine Slide will surely be ridden.

2 comments:

Dance Biz said...

THIS IS WRITTEN PERFECTLY!!!!!

Palmer Family said...

Deja, our family was unable to join you on your re-visit to the Alpine Slide. The feedback I heard from parents is how impressed they were with how diplomatic and professional leaders of the NFB stated their stance and beliefs. What a truly remarkable experience and example on so many levels.

I can't get enough of your blog by the way. Very thought provoking, funny, and real. Keep up the great work.
Marla