When I walk was very eye opening. It made me aware of accessibility issues I otherwise would not have known about. I find my previous ignorance scary because it is this same type of ignorance that breeds a culture that ostracizes people that are not able-bodied. This documentary is important because it makes people aware of different diseases. What was most heartbreaking for me was when the director was talking to his mom and his mom constantly told him that there were people that were in more critical situations. It was heartbreaking because in a way, I felt as though she was invalidating what he was experiencing and feeling.
I think another important thing to evaluate is the fact that the world is designed in a way that creates a classification between able/non-able bodied individuals. If the world was already designed excluding stairs or structures that required a separate method of entrance or traveling, then there would be less of a distinction between being able/non-able bodied. It was baffling that the director struggled to find an accessible restaurant in one of the largest cities in the world.
The mountain that Eli Clare describes brings back memories of my own hike up the AT. I do not have the same physical disadvantage that Eli struggles with, but I cannot say that I also was not challenged by my climb up the mountain. It was a different mountain and we are both in different situations, but I wonder how similar our journeys could have been. She talks about how she was on the verge of allowing bitterness fill her heart because of the limitations that constantly threw her down from her pursuit to reach her dreams. She explains about how her physical experience comes from two, one caused by a social construction while the other comes from her physical limitations. Then, goes on to describe how she and her friend went back down the mountain when her body could no longer continue up.
I compare this to my third day of my hike. Blistered, bloody, and dehydrated my friends and I also made our way down the mountain to a nearby town to rehydrate and recuperate before our trek up the final mountain. I think to myself why we decided to basically give up in that moment and head down the mountain to the comfort of a bed in a hostel, and I cannot help but think it stemmed from a sense of fear that my body could not handle what was being thrown at it. I was scared that I was too dehydrated and too weak to continue, but then I differentiate this from Eli’s experience. I try to but when I think about my experience and her experience I want to say that they are different. Physically speaking, she has an impairment that makes it harder for her body to climb up the mountain. I stopped my climb because of unpreparedness in water management (all water supplies were dried out from lack of rain). But I wonder how similar they may have been. We were both disabled from our dream of climbing through a big mountain that unwelcomed us. We both had to stop because our bodies could not handle continuing.
I think that there is another difference though. She has another social pressure that I believe I do not have. I did it for the fun and with no intention or thought of not being able to doing. I think Eli had the idea that she was a “supercrip” and that society will see her as being extraordinary because she could climb this mountain against her “disability”. Therefore, her external body was looked in a different way than my able body. We went through similar experiences but because society has put certain people in categories of fit or unfit, we say that Eli’s experience is more challenging based on her body’s condition (her cerebral palsy) rather than the environment that she faced. On the other hand, I blame my predicament on my environment and my inability to continue even though I know my body can probably handle it.
In class, we talked a lot about the use of labels, and the pros and cons of its use in society. However, all of the labeling we talked about were in respect to other people and his/her own anecdote. Personally, I have witnessed the effect of labeling in my family and it saddens me to think of how quickly perceptions change once someone is labeled.
Several years ago, my aunt visited my family in the US to get a proper medical diagnosis for her son, my cousin, who hadn’t spoken a single word from birth. 5 years went had gone by since he was born and he never spoke a single word. He was always quiet but jumped around restlessly when around people. He would show some emotion occasionally and would act as if he was about to say something, but then would shrug it off and run away. My aunt and my family back home in Bangladesh placed him in vocal training classes, but he never spoke a word. Doctors in Bangladesh didn’t know what he had, but kept saying that this was very common, and that he would eventually speak. This kept the hope alive in our family that he would one day be “normal.” But, enough years went by until my aunt got so frustrated she decided to come to the US and see the doctors here. A new and more qualified opinion is what she was looking for. After running several tests and spending a few days with my cousin, the doctors diagnosed my cousin with autism and also having prelingual deafness. This destroyed my entire family but most especially my aunt. All these years, there was hope that my cousin would be “normal” but it wasn’t until a societal label that was placed that were we truly able to understand that my cousin would never experience what was “normal.” This is my first hand experience with labels. It can devastate you to such an extent that you no longer no what to do. My aunt didn’t return to work for a year and decided to have another child. She even contemplated giving up my cousin, but giving him was emotionally impossible.
It’s surprising how much society’s validation means to us. In its simplest sense, a label is society’s way of saying you fit into a specific definition, class or status. We are taught not to care about what other people think about us because we can’t ever satisfy everyone. We need to be ourselves and accept who we are. With a label, you just can’t do that. Yes, they helped diagnose my cousin but what was so wrong with letting my cousin be who he was? Without a label, my aunt would’ve treated him more “normally” and would’ve just learned to accept he was special. A label, inevitably, had made him more isolated from the family because now we all know what he has. The effect that labels have had in this situation, I do not support the use of labels. They simply ruin everything.
Throughout my life, I have developed a number of “invisible” disabilities- medical conditions such as type 1 diabetes, severe food allergies, asthma, and several other autoimmune conditions- but I have never felt that I was disabled in the traditional sense. Like Reeve, the wheelchair symbol is the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “disability.” While I have always been grateful that my medical conditions do not outwardly manifest themselves, I strongly identify with Reeve’s discussion of the difficulty of convincing others “about the reality of some impairments….faced particularly by people with chronic illness” (88). Because my peers cannot physically see what is wrong with me, I often feel that my credibility is undermined.
I found our discussion of the social construction of disability particularly personally relevant. Since I have type 1 diabetes, my pancreatic cells are completely destroyed and thus unable to produce insulin. In our world, an “abled” individual has a functional pancreas, which therefore makes me “disabled.” When I volunteer at camps for children with type 1 diabetes, however, I suddenly feel I am no longer disabled- everyone at camp is injecting themselves with artificial insulin. Suddenly, this is normal. By the same means, my food allergies prevent me from eating in most restaurants, and I could argue that I am disabled at social gatherings. When I choose the restaurant or invite people over, it is as if my disability disappears.
A couple of weeks ago, I submitted my testing accommodation forms to take the GRE. We discussed labeling in class, and in this case, labeling was necessary for me to receive such accommodations. In fact, there were exact words phrases that my endocrinologist needed to include for me to qualify for these services. As Reeve discusses, in cases like these, I am “forced to define [my]self in terms of what [I] am unable to do” (87). Clearly, this does not promote psycho-emotional well-being, and it is necessary that progress be made to diminish this impairment.
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I really enjoyed watching this film in class. A few things that stood out to me that relate most to our topics of discussion, were each person’s sense of normal. One of the doctors who Jason saw, mentioned how “normal people walk.” But, his mother made it clear that if Jason wants something then he’ll make it happen. Alice, however, before marriage was satisfied with Jason’s sense of normal. But, once they were married, she felt like she was suffocating and needed her own space. Also, throughout the film Jason has appeared very brave. I think that he does what he has to do, and very rarely breaks down about he can no longer do so much in his life. With 13 minutes left of the film, I am eager to see what happens next. I hope Jason survives this awful disease. He is so young and has so much potential, for it is truly a shame what has happened to him. With that being said, I think he will continue to make the most of his life. It just makes me sad to see someone sad in their state of being.
This past weekend I went to Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. was baptized and where his father served as a pastor. From a religious view, the space does not welcome me because I identify with Judaism. However, it does not exclude me because I am not Christian. The church’s mission is to allow anyone interested in Martin Luther King Jr.’s life the opportunity to learn more about his childhood. As I approached, I saw a family with a child in a wheelchair could not get into the church because of a two-stair stoop guarding the front door. Even if they had been able to get inside, they would have been challenged with more stairs in order to see either the chapel or the basement where Dr. King was baptized. The whole space captures a past time and thus allows visitors to experience some fraction of the actual experience it once provided for its congregation. This effect moved me because it demonstrated how much suffering a group of righteous and incredibly intelligent individuals faced for attempting to preach peace because of their race. The sociality in the space reflects those who visit. When I went, I felt everyone there wanted to learn about this history of Martin Luther King Jr. I did not feel any segregation, which I was somewhat expecting. On the other hand, not many people talked to me because I do not have extensive knowledge of the subject about which they were seeking information.
My friends and I planned to recreate our bake sale from last week at a new church. Our bake sale was used to raise money for back to school supplies for children and teachers. Last week’s profits topped any of our expectations and we were looking forward to having another successful bake sale this week. We tried contacting the church where we would want to sell the baked goods throughout the week but received no response. We drove to the church only to find out that we could not sell there. We were upset but we refused to be defeated. Our backup plan was to sell the baked goods at a park. We were closest to the Atlanta Beltline so we decided to sell there. We were in our Sunday best attempting to sell fattening baked goods to people that had chosen to run/bike/skate/ on a Sunday morning. My friends and I felt extremely awkward and out of place. People passed us, looking at our sign and smiling. Some even let out a laugh or too. It seemed as though we were in a children’s book where you had to point out which of these things did not belong. I felt like an outsider at that moment but being surrounded by my friends made coping with that status easier.
The mottled blue of the carpeted floor marks its presence in the entirety of this room. The carpet looks old – some spots are bald due to excessive wear and tear, others look faded and some look moldy. There is absolutely nothing inside the rood: it is empty and bare- the only defining feature of the room being the blue carpet and the black accent that lines the beige walls. The air smells salty: the damp, moist smell of time and the plastic scent of heated metal mingle with each other. Halfway up the beige walls, there is a black line that runs horizontally along the perimeter of the room: it is continuous in most places, but in the far left corner there is an indentation on one of the walls which has made the black line chip off and expose the powdery beige underneath it. The windows are open: There is something about the soft breeze that flows in along with the natural light that permeates the emptiness of the room that made me want to enter it in the first place. There is definitely a conflict of interest – one part of me likes the room because its sunny and airy expanse beckons me into the room and occupy the vast sunny expanse of this room, while on the other hand the salty damp smell turns me away. The blue of the carpet makes the room look old, cold and unwelcoming but at the same time the breezy wind and the happy sunshine in the room makes it seem warm, cozy and welcoming. I stood by the door of this room, which was previously a weights room in my local gym now gutted for renovation, as I contemplated whether to go in or not. I was attracted to the place in the first place because of the sunlight that seemed to preferentially shined here; but I am pretty turned off by the peculiar smell that emanates from it.
There seems to be no impediment or inaccessible region of the room for my ability profile. I can access very nook and cranny: it is longer than it is wide. Since it is arranged like this, there are doors on either side of the room – one can exit or enter from either, making the space more accessible.
Well, when I was thinking about doing this assignment, I believed the best way to do it was to be efficient with my time. That being said, I decided to round up a couple of my pals and embark on an adventure to go grant me a glorious food baby at a restaurant I’ve never been to. Our answer – the korean mexican fusion restaurant Takorea.
Well just think about the entire experience, I had to walk in my big hiking boots all the way to michael street parking garage, which let me tell ya, is not the shortest hike on campus. After getting into and managing to work the machine that is the contemporary automobile, I picked up two of my friends and embarked downtown for this illustrious place.
When we finally got there the first thing I realized is there is no ramp! How if I didn’t have my two legs was I able to dine at this place? After we finally get in, which there were no sitting chairs to wait our 10 minutes, we finally go to our table. Then I start to get hella metaphysical thinking about our discussion of the chair in class. I think to myself, well a table and chair is such a constricting apparatus but it serves such a vital function. What would be the alternative? The same goes with bowls and cups. Yes they are meant to be constrictive by holding food and water, but isn’t that something that needs to occur?
Anyways, I brush these thoughts to the side and indulge in my bbq tacos. All I can think of is that good thing they made this place for humans!
This past Friday I went to Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta for my first ever Atlanta Hawks game. The arena itself was huge, and the space ostensibly quite inviting. It had high-ceilings and open architecture with various shops lining the main level. In this way the space not only welcomed me to walk through it, but also enticed me. I took an escalator to our section, and then used the stairs to find our row and seats. In terms of my own body, this construct was necessary for me move around the space. Had it not ben there, my own physical capabilities would have been insufficient to get me from point A to point B. This was also the case with the elevators we took, as well as our seats in a certain sense (not as a necessity but rather a support). Sociality significantly influenced how exclusive I found the space for a specific reason: I was a Cavaliers fan amongst Hawks fans. As I made my allegiance known early in my gestures and exclamations, I was welcomed by a few and rejected by most. Some targeted me directly with expletives, and in this way, the people impacted how inviting I found the space. As we left, after an overtime Cavaliers win, my cheers were met with an even greater degree of hostility. These gesticulations however were seen more as part of the game and spectacle, and thus did not mar the experience in any way.