Part 6 – Hopes & Dreams
Hello, it’s me Kenneth Brown. Do we dare to dream? Do we have the right to have “HOPE.” Fear not, yes we do. Without hope and dreams we have no future. We believe in nothing. We cannot find a way, because we are stuck in our own way. Before I grasp the limitations of my disability, I dreamed of being a policeman or a fireman. Once I became fully aware of my physical limitations, I also became aware of the mental and emotional limitations being perpetrated that a disability brought with it. These limitations did not deter me from dreaming and having hope. I knew when I was 12 that I would one day own my own business and hire persons with disabilities to work with and for me. I believed I would be wealthy and retired by the age of 40, and spend the rest of my life working with children
with disabilities, especially African American. At the time I had a limited view of persons with disabilities [physical impairment that could be seen]. People have many different types and forms of disabilities including unseen. There are mental, emotional, psychological, social, some are self‐induced, addictions, some are perpetrated and perpetuated by others and society at large. This listing is not the full depth of disability, because we don’t know everything about everything yet. No one can decide if a person has a “disability”. Our humanity should tell us to honor and respect all persons by who they
are, not by what we perceive them to be.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: AMERICAN AND BLACK HISTORY SHOWS AND TELLS US LITTLE TO NOTHING ABOUT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. If I were to believe the history lessons taught, No one with a disability ever created/invented anything of value. As I reflect on this thought, I believe it was intentional and on purpose by those writing the slanted half‐truths of the real history of this nation that “CRIPPLED” people were the condition bestowed upon them, not a “HUMAN BEING.”
The history lessons I learned told of one African American with a disability that did or created anything of note. This person was Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad, who lived with Narcolepsy.
In spite of my disability I grew up believing in the “American dream.” Get your education, find a good company to work for, do your best/try your hardest and you will be noticed, rewarded, and successful. I did not realize that having a disability would allow others to create false walls, concrete ceilings, and other insane/unfair obstacles be placed on my path in many instances. It took me a while to grasp the reality of discrimination. I learned to adapt to these negative situations. I knew I had to work twice as hard as others to “make the grade”. It was clear if I made a mistake, others with disabilities would not get an opportunity, especially any minority with a disability. Working twice as hard did not bother me. The injustices I experienced bothered me. I made up my mind early in my professional life: I can work with you, I can work for you, If you put obstacles in my path I will go over or around them, tunnel underneath it, or just knock it down, but I will not kiss your or others back sides to get ahead.
When we listen, we hear the buzz words/phrases: I forget he has a disability, he speaks so
eloquently, he is always angry, who gave him all the power, you should only do what you are told, you don’t belong out here you’re crippled, . These are keys to failure if you abide by or believe in them.
In my twenties many people thought I was in my late thirties or early forties. I think it was due to the positions I held in corporate America and the way I presented myself. Now in my mid‐fifties most people think I am in my early forties. This is I think due to how I present myself. I intentionally take excellent care of my health and physical well‐being. I take care of my social, emotional, psychological, and physiological health to make sure I can be productive and true to my blessings and gifts.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Kenneth Brown is a disability advocate/consultant and welcomes reader comments.