Friday, June 08, 2007


(This is an extremely long post. But I encourage you to read all of it. God bless...)

I have an announcement… I was offered an opportunity to become employed by the good old state of Texas last week. Because I need the money, I accepted the offer and started the job on the 1st of the month.

I am a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Well, let me rephrase that. I was hired to serve as a vocational rehabilitation counselor.

(Remember, I assign my identity. Me and me alone… I refuse to give anyone else the authority to tell me what I am. Because the truth is that I am an advocate and promoter of hope, justice, love, and peace. And I carry out my mission in life in different capacities. In this case, I will be living out my passion and doing it through the office of a vocational rehabilitation counselor.))

You’re probably wondering, what exactly is a vocational rehabilitation counselor. Well, even if you are not wondering, I’ll explain... I help people with disabilities develop strategies and the confidence to become independent. Likewise, we assist with helping people with disabilities find and maintain employment.

I decided not to announce this professional development on my blog for a couple of reasons.

1. I’m still getting use to the idea of posting personal disclosure on my blog. For some strange reason, I don’t mind when strangers read about my personal feelings and affairs. But it’s folks that I know that I would like to keep out of my business. But anyway… I think I’m a little too late for all of that.
2. I didn’t know if I was going to keep the job or not. My heart ached that I even had to take the job. I kind of felt pushed into the job. My disability really handicaps my options. So, often times, I find myself having to do things that I know dang well that I wouldn’t do if I could see. So here I am, accepting a job that’s about 40 miles from my house, simply because I feel that it’s probably one of the few employment opportunities that are available to me.
3. I’m not a fan of conventional employment. I am an entrepreneur. The idea of building up someone else’s castle, while I ignore mine is a little outrageous. I hate the idea of making others rich, while I cash a substandard check for doing the work. But I have a bigger goal in mind, so I decided to work the plantation to get the ends to help me achieve my personal goals.
4. I hate that my blindness impacts my life so much. I didn’t really know how this job was going to work out. Yes, technology has really made life better for blind people. But the fact is that my blindness really does impair my ability to do certain things. Heck, it effects my ability to do a lot of things.
5. I really didn’t know if I was going to keep the job or not. If I quit the job, I wasn’t going to be proud about doing that. So, I thought I should keep the fact that I was offered a job to myself.
6. Because I’m back on the plantation, I’m not sure how master will feel about seeing my blog on the internet. So, I wanted to keep my comments about my job basically inexistent. The truth is I will follow my mind and keep my comments at a very minimum. The only reason why I even decided to post a blog about this is because something went down at work that I need to discuss.

This week, I was verbally accosted by a fellow co-worker. Although this co-worker is a stranger to me, her approach and attitude towards me was quite familiar. This woman decided to come in my office and point out what she thought about me, what I was doing, and what I needed to do more of. This was highly unusual and inappropriate because this person had not even held a conversation with me before. Plus, she is not my supervisor.

(One thing that bothered me about this woman coming at me like that is because it was black on black. But that’s another blog entry…)

While she was attacking me, I slipped away to a place that I hate visiting. It is in that place that I am aware of all my vulnerabilities, all of my discomforts, all of my shortcomings, and all of my uncertainties. For some reason, I started feeling like a little blind girl, rather than the unafraid, bold, intelligent sister that I know that I am. In stead of standing up to this woman, like I certainly know how to do, I shrank on the inside and decided to allow her to unofficially reprimand me.

I got so mad and disturbed by her behavior and my response to her behavior, that I was shaking after she left my office. I was so angry that I allowed this woman the opportunity to disrespect me. I felt so unimpressed and disappointed in myself for not writing her a check that I know her butt sho’ can’t cash.

As soon as the woman left my office, I called my best friend and told her about what happened. Alicia reminded me how people often feel like they can talk to me crazy because I’m blind.

Let me explain… People often want to treat people with disabilities like they are children. I often get people that try to baby me, protect me, and do everything for me. But I also come across people that think they can put me in check like I am a two-year-old. They actually think they have the right to put a grown woman like myself in check.

The fact is that I experience more discrimination and prejudice because of my blindness than my other defining characteristics. I am very familiar with racism, sexism, lookism, and brokism. But the ism that I am mostly familiar with is the disabilityism.

Black folks, white folks, rich folks, poor folks, folks in mansions, folks in the ghetto, ugly folks, pretty folks, smart folks, and dumb folks have the nerve to judge me and decide if I am worth being treated like an adult because I am blind. WTH!!!

I’ve been unemployed for the last 5 years, not because I am black, not because I am uneducated, not because I am a woman… It is because I am blind. And that truly ticks me off. I am sick of that ism.

I spend a lot of time in the blogosphere discussing black issues with other black bloggers. I see them getting all excited and worked up over issues that have to do with African American issues. But there are only a few voices in the world that speak loudly about issues that effect people with disabilities.

Now, here’s the rub… It’s time for black folks to think about disability issues. Black folks don’t need to pretend like disability does not effect them. Because disability effects black folks more than it does any other ethnic group in this country.

Because of health disparities, black folks are twice as likely to become disabled due to illness and injury than any other racial group in the country. And the sad reality is that these disabled black folks are less likely to be reintegrated into the workforce than any other group of people.

Diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, are causing blindness, amputations, stroke, and end stage renal failure. All of these conditions impair a person’s ability to earn an income from employment. So, it is high time for black folks to make disability and health disparities a top charter on the conversation list.

Well, getting back to the main idea of this blog entry… My job… This will probably be my last post about job related issues. If I do write about something I experience, I won’t describe the backdrop of the story as my place of employment. Okay…

Well, God bless. I pray… You pray… We all pray… Something is sure to happen.

Angie Braden

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