Overcoming the Battle Between Us vs. Them: Uniting a Nation

Sometimes it’s hard not to think of the differences between disabled and non-disabled individuals. The physical challenges of accessibility, including access, or lack thereof, to sidewalks and wheelchair ramps are a couple of examples that people without disabilities may take for granted.

It’s difficult to understand how it is to live with an injury if someone doesn’t know anyone living with such a condition. Often, that unknown leads to a separation between the two paradigms. Those two groups may not know how to overcome the social barriers of communication. “There has to be some level of communication, and not just rhetoric – you have to truly listen. You’ve got to truly put yourself in that position and be fully cognizant of what that life may be,” said Gwen Gillenwater, executive director of the disAbility Resource Center.

disAbility Resource Center staff with Daniel Becton of Project Ubuntu

disAbility Resource Center staff with Daniel Becton of Project Ubuntu

Gillenwater and others from the disability community met last fall with Daniel Becton of Project Ubuntu. The mission of Project Ubuntu is “to visit, celebrate and support people in one community in every state and Washington, D.C. who embody ‘ubuntu’ through their commitment to service, and to inspire a wide-ranging audience to engage in service themselves.”

Becton mentioned in a recent blog post, “Often ‘we’ may reduce people with disabilities to a homogenous identity that assumes total mental and physical incompetence. We exaggerate the challenges of people with disabilities and we only “deal with them” as much as we have to.”

Becton’s travels have allowed him to share with the rest of the world that people with disabilities are as capable as anyone else. Our society can “transcend the ‘us vs. them’ structure of people with and without disabilities by seeing the person first,” Becton said. “Instead of pitying or avoiding someone with a disability, one ought to seek to learn about another person’s background, interests, skills, ambitions and challenges,” he added.

Societal attitudes have changed over the years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. However, I believe we can strive to become even more united. Let’s pledge to become one nation that’s indivisible while creating justice for all.

To read Becton’s blog, visit http://projectubuntu.info/2013/02/11/week-14-south-carolina/.

About Tuesday Talk With Alex

Born in Charleston, SC, I was injured in a motor vehicle accident when I was nine months old. I acquired a C5-C6 spinal cord injury. I'm now 30 years old and I do not let my disability deter me from acheiving my goals and enjoying life. I will be sharing my experience of living with a spinal cord injury.
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2 Responses to Overcoming the Battle Between Us vs. Them: Uniting a Nation

  1. Us vs Them is a good way of addressing the mobility issue. Sam and I went to the SEWE downtown Charleston Saturday, only to realize the number of stores that I can not access. River Street Sweets, we made an exception, so Sam could go in and get the Turtles and Pralines. It was rough but I waited.. LOL… Sunday, Sam, Daisy and I attended the SEWE at Brittlebank to watch the dock dogs jumping. I barely got in, with portable ramp too steep and then a drop off of about 5 inches… Needless to say we could not exit that way, since I wouldn’t be able to get up onto the ramp. We found a back way, where the vendors entered and exited that was on the ground floor, through the parking lot, to the sidewalk, where my van was parked, perpendicular to the sidewalk alongside all the other parked cars. I pulled up onto the sidewalk to open my van ramp and get out, Sam then pulled the van back into line. When we left, Sam had to pull the van up onto the sidewalk so I could open my van ramp and enter and then transfer to the drivers seat and we were off, out of the COLD and home again…
    It was SO COLD… Daisy was shivering… She truly enjoyed all the dog social activity, with the smells etc. The petting zoo was a surprise to Daisy.. her First.. the little goat immediately put it’s head into the butting mode.. the sheep nuzzled with Daisy, the llamas blinked their long beautiful lashes at Daisy, but when the TALL Camel was in view, Daisy decided we should leave immediately the way we came in. We managed to leave via the Exit… Daisy’s head fit into the large iced tea mug, after I had my share, then drink and enjoy the ice cubes all over her face was her first time enjoying this.. I was done with the iced tea at this point.. LOL… Without Sam, a walking person, I could not have entered or exited, since help was needed to move the van where it needed to be. A Lady, her Man and her Dog, what a Great Day!.


  2. Pingback: Project Ubuntu: Turning Dr. King’s Dream Into Reality | Tuesday Talk With Alex

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