What a diss- ability (Part 1 featuring Kanye West)
I am making this particular blog a mult-part entry… I got a littler verbose after a while and it was a lot of words to read (not to mention type!) But I wanted to post the part about Kanye before it’s completely irrelevant…
I went on a date once with a guy, who I nicknamed “Motorcycle Mike” (how he acquired that name is a story for a later time). We had met at a party when I was a senior in college and I obliged when he asked me out later that week on an offical date. Well, as many first dates go, we were catching up to what we were doing with our lives, how we got there, etc. He was telling me how he played football in high school, and I had JUST gotten back from my first track camp at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center where I had met a whole bunch of different athletes, with different stories and different disabilities. One guy I met that week in particular lost his leg at the knee from a freak football accident. Motorcycle Mike had TOTALLY reminded me of that so I brought it up to him… and he immediately looked at me completely horrified.
“Oh my God, I don’t know what I would do if I lost my leg…” he started. Poor guy had no idea how awful he was about to feel so he kept going… “I mean, how could you meet people?! How could you date anyone?! If I lost my leg I would lose a part of my SOUL…” That’s where I had to stop him. I even told him he was about to feel like an ass in three seconds. Perplexed, he was waiting for me to guide him and I told him to look at my legs underneath the high table top we were sitting at. I was wearing pants, but am still short so I told him to take note how my right ankle doesn’t flex. At all.
This guy looked like he had seen a ghost. Immediately he reached for my right leg and sure enough, it was as fake as the day is long. (I thought this was already established the night we met but… I guess that detail somehow seemed to get overlooked.)
Once he got over the shock of it, he was totally fine. He was actually a super nice guy not to mention good looking (at 21 that was one of the more important factors to me). We went on a few more dates, but ultimately Motorcycle Mike and I weren’t a match.
I love that story, because it explains SO MUCH about the American culture and mentality when it comes to people with physical disabilities. Poor, sweet sweet Motorcycle Mike was unedited and just let his emotions pour out of him when he was faced with the idea that really anyone was vulnerable to losing a limb. His reaction wasn’t unique or offensive, it was just really honest.
This whole “controversy” with Kanye West waiting to continue a show he was performing in Sydney has no difference. Granted, West will probably never be at a MENSA meeting in his life…his ignorance is not unique. Especially in the United States.
One of the more funny, or more interesting reactions I’ve noticed is that all of my friends in the “disabled community” especially the younger athletes, is that not one of us was offended. It was comical, but that kind of ostracization is something that we face EVERYDAY. ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME. On the other hand, I know that if any one of my (non disabled) friends were there, and that were me being called out, they would absolutely lose their minds on Kanye.
It’s an interesting place and time to live in this country and see where the perception actually is for people, more specifically YOUNG people with disabilities. I felt it before I was a member of the disability communit; fear, confusion and sorrow for those who were dealt a “sadder” hand than I was…
Then I got cancer and the story for me changed DRAMATICALLY.
I will continue on this rant next week!