Thursday, November 01, 2007

Blogging for Justice: Crying Out Against the Obvious Crime Inflicted on Megan Williams and More

"But I still cannot relate to Megan Williams as a person. I think it's because I'm an intellectual elitist and I don't think that Megan Williams is very smart. When I look into her eyes, I see Gomer Pyle.”
Francis L. Holland

When I first received an e-mail from AAPP to Blog for Justice, especially at such a short notice, I quickly dismissed it and said to myself that I just didn’t have the time to write my thoughts and reactions regarding the two heinous crimes that were committed against these two women by November 1st. Plus, although I often post comments on other blogger’s boards about political and social issues, I try to stick to a general theme on my blog, disability issues, especially disability issues as it pertains to me as a blind woman.

But after seeing the call to write over at the
Afrospear page, as well as a recent article related to the heinous
crime that took place at Dumbar Village, which was more horrifying than any Halloween tale I've ever heard, I decided to make it my business to write an entry,, so that I could be apart of the group that would shake the ground to let the world know that we would not sit back and passively wait to see if justice would be served in these particular cases.

However, to be quite honest, if I may, when I decided to write something regarding these terrible incidents, I actually was going to write a quick post about these issues, just to say that I actually engaged in solidarity with the Afrosphear. I was still being selfish, thinking about what all I had to do tonight and tomorrow, which was going to get in the way of me writing a thoughtful post.

But after seeing the above confession over at Francis L. Holland’s blog, I knew for sure that I must write. And guess what… I can stay within my theme of disability issues. So sad that Francis set the stage for me… So that you can continue to flow with me, let me post his quote here again for you to read.

"But I still cannot relate to Megan Williams as a person. I think it's because I'm an intellectual elitist and I don't think that Megan Williams is very smart. When I look into her eyes, I see Gomer Pyle.” Francis L. Holland

Now, forgive me if my writing gets a little emotional. Let me warn you. I’m feeling pretty emotional about what Francis so ignorantly remarked on his blog.

The reason why his comment shakes me up so much is because people with differences and/or disabilities often get declassified, boxed, institutionalized, neglected, forgotten, thrown away, segmented, hidden, ignored, abused, misunderstood, pushed away, and disrespected, simply because they are not like the masses-like Francis said, they can’t be related to as a person.

Is Megan Williams not a person? Why can’t she be related to as a person? Because when you look in her eyes she seems dumb? Really?

People often tell me, “I’ve never met a blind person before. I don’t know how I should treat you.” Well, I would tell these people, who I think meant well, but were clouded with ignorance, “Treat me like you want to be treated. Treat me like I’m a person with real feelings, real issues, and real concerns.” Yes, I may be blind. But I am first a person. I am not Blind Angie. I am Angie that is blind. See the difference...

You wouldn’t believe the people that I come in contact with that treat me less than I should be treated just because I am different, because when they look in my eyes, I appear to be… Um, I don’t know… Take your pick. So many people treat me like I have mental retardation or I’m a slow learner, just because I’m blind. Many people I come in contact with often try to deny me the right to speak for myself, make decisions for myself, or stand up for myself. Basic ignorance, I tell you…

Here are the facts… Ms. Williams does have a learning disability, she is a person, and she was treated worst than a stray, mangy, rabies infested dog. Something there doesn’t add up. But what doesn’t also add up for me is how an educated person of color, a lawyer, could even hint that they couldn’t relate to this woman as a person because she appeared to be unintelligent/intellectually challenged/slow/dumb.

That’s the kind of bullcrap I put up with on a daily basis. It’s not my race and my gender that causes me to be discriminated against, treated badly, and prejudged the most. It’s my disability. And the time is now for that to stop. It is time for intelligent, educated persons to stop prejudging, discriminating against, and minimizing the humanity of a person with challenges.

I shutter at the thought of what happened to Megan Williams, simply because I know it really could have been me. Maybe not the same setting and series of events… But I too could have been a victim of some person’s physical and mental torture. And God forbid, unless we put a stop to this type of violence, I still can become this kind of victim.

What also shakes me to the core is that people, even educated people could have the capacity of looking in my blind eyes and minimizing what would have happened to me, simply because they could not relate to me as a person.

For the record: Francis L. Holland, who is like one of the most influential bloggers in the Afrospear/Afrosphere, and a blogger I truly respect, has issued an apology for his statement. He also stated that he did not know that Megan was learning disabled when he made his remark. His apology is below.

“I didn't know that Megan Williams was recognized as having learning disabilities. It helps me to comprehend her situation and what happened to her much
better. And I apologize to those who have had all of the facts. Because Megan's learning disabilities are an important part of what makes this crime so heinous, we should be highlighting the fact that Megan Williams
has learning disabilities because, for me at least, it makes the crimes against her even more grave. She was not able to defend herself.” Francis

But even with the apology in place, I still wanted to highlight the type of ignorance that causes people with disabilities/differences/challenges, whether they are physical or mental, to be fragmented, to be pushed away, to be compartmentalized, to be lost in the system, to be hidden from society, to be unemployed, to be homeless, to be abused, to be ignored, to be forgotten, simply because they cannot be related to as a person.

So what if Megan Williams looked intellectually challenged. Maybe she does... I can't comment on that. But I put money on it that what Megan looks like more than anything is a person. And that's what Francis should have seen first, her humanity.

As we are thinking about Megan Williams, and thinking about violence against women and how it needs to come to an end, let’s also think about the social violence that many inflict upon people with physical and mental disabilities/challenges/differences, even when the difference/challenge/disability is not easily identified and understood. Now, that’s justice.!

Disclaimer: This entry was not a personal attack on Francis L. Holland. It was an attack on the attitudes and perceptions that people have regarding people with differences/disabilities, and how those people should be related to, treated, and interacted with.

10 comments:

Eddie G. Griffin said...

Thank you for opening my eyes also.

Shawn Williams said...

What a wonderful post. I thank you for presenting a side to this sad tale that has yet to be fully told.

AAPP said...

Angie, Thank you for your post.

Your concern about how people with learning differences are treated, and continue to be treated. Your post was extremely emotional for me. It connected me in many different issues in my own childhood and adulthood.

Thank you for providing additional context to the many issues around the black women abused and raped. Thank you also for blogging for Justice.

AAPP

Asabagna said...

Hey Angie girl,

Powerful post! I admire the perspective you bring to these issues and topics.

"So what if Megan Williams looked intellectually challenged. Maybe she does... I can't comment on that. But I put money on it that what Megan looks like more than anything is a person. And that's what Francis should have seen first, her humanity."

One of the reasons why incidents like this happen time and time again, is that those of African descent who are suppose to be the best and the brightest of our community, who should consider it their duty to serve and protect "weaker" members of the community, fall into this illusion of grandeur. These mis-educated negroes come to consider themselves social or intellectual elitists and therefore have no compassion for those whom they consider as inferiors.

For Francis to apologize for his comments because he did not know that Megan had a learning disability, is worse than if he had not apologized at all as far as I am concerned. Compassion and empathy is not an intellectual endeavour. Nor are they dependant on social status. Nor are they based on how someone looks. They rise from the heart and soul. They are what makes us human.

Angie said...

Hey Bro. Griffin! Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. I'm always honored when you stop by.

Thanks Shawn for stopping by my little spot and reading my ramblings. You're a first time commenter here. I'm always glad to host new guest. Please come back.

AAPP: Brotha, it was a pleasure. Thanks for sending me that e-mail, making me aware of the call to write about these two crimes. I'm glad that I accepted the challenge.

Angie said...

Hey Asa! I'm smiling as I write this comment because, brotha, you are all on it tonight.

"One of the reasons why incidents like this happen time and time again, is that those of African descent who are suppose to be the best and the brightest
of our community, who should consider it their duty to serve and protect "weaker" members of the community, fall into this illusion of grandeur. These
mis-educated negroes come to consider themselves social or intellectual elitists and therefore have no compassion for those whom they consider as inferiors." Asa

Amen! Asa, you betta preach! I wish that these words, which have so much weight on them, could be read by all of our brothers and sisters that need to understand the syndrom that they live with.

"Compassion and empathy is not an intellectual endeavour. Nor are they dependant on social status. Nor are they based on how someone
looks. They rise from the heart and soul. They are what makes us human." Asa

Yet another deep comment. Brotha, wisdom is all over these comments. I'm proud to have them posted on my blog.

Asa, always come back and holla at me. I'm always pleased and honored when you grace me with a comment.

Peace and love,

Angie

BTW: I hope the baby is doing great. My prayers are with you, your wife, and the new little one.

Lovebabz said...

Sister,

First of all thanks for stopping by my blog. I do so appreciate your kind and supportive comments. I am home now! Secondly, I think you and so many other Sisters who blog about this story will help to ensure that it isn't lost in mainstream media. We have learned and experienced that Black blogging has become a very important tool for the sharing of information. I for one appreciate well written and intelligent commentary. Thanks for holding it down and shouting it out!

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Thanks for writing this.

Angie said...

Hey Lovebabz. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. And thanks for the kind words. BTW: I'm really glad that you're home. God bless you!

Angie said...

Hello Francis: Thanks for stopping by my spot and commenting. And thanks for not raking me against the coals for using your comments asa topic for my blog entry. Again, as I mentioned in my post, I was in no way attacking you. I was attacking the attitude that I see in most people that I come in contact with in my daily walk.

Keep blogging, my brotha. And keep speaking truth... But continue to grow when the opportunity presents itself. I know you will.

BTW: My little sister's name is Frances. So, everytime I see your name, Francis, pop up throughout the Afrosphere, I always smile.

God bless you!

Angie