Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clearly Amazing

I'm under so much stress. So much stress that I feel like a boulder is sitting on top of my chest... But what is amazing to me is that I'm still breathing despite the fact that the stress feels like it's strangling the very life out of me. I'm amazed that God has allowed me to continue to feel his cool breath of life in my lungs during this trying time.

When I come across people that know me and know about all the things that I have gone through in my life, they always tell me how strong they think I am. Well, I don't feel strong at all. And the truth is that I am not strong.

I'm an empty, weak, hollow shell, that has no problem admitting that I need the Lord in my life. Without Him, I am insignificant, unaccomplished, scared, weak, and broken.

But with Him, I am more than a conquerer. With Him, I can do all things. With Him, I am able to resist the evil in the world. With Him, I am able to rise above all the pain.

So, I don't take any credit for this so called strength that I demonstrate in my daily walk through this thing we call life. I give all the credit to the Living God, who strengthens me to do every single thing I do.

I can't recall the exact wording and location of the scripture that's coming to mind, but I am encouraged by the scripture: "He'll give you beauty for your ashes." (Asa or Heber, help me out. Y'all are the theologeons. **smile**)

I pray that is indeed the truth as I sit and look at all the ashes around me. I hope and pray, as I am without a place to actually call home, that God will renew me, will restore me, will refresh me, will reinvent me.

**I know that this post was a little all over the place. But that's how I'm feeling. I'm just trying to sort through it all, while keeping things in the right perspective.

Continue to keep me and mine in prayer. We need it.

Oh yea... I graduate December 15th if everything goes as planned. I'm so excited! Angela Braden with a masters degree. Yet one more thing that I will have accomplished with the help of God. I'll post on that whole graduation as it gets closer and more definite that I will indeed be eligible for my degree.

Until we meet up in this place again or yours, I wish you the best.

Love and hugs,


Monday, November 12, 2007

Burned Out

Last week, after a hard day of mind aching, heart breaking work, I was ever so happy to pull up in my driveway, unfortunately, only to find my house, the place where I live, sleep, eat, bathe, use the computer, relax, and store my clothes, screaming with a high pitch yelp and belching black smoke. Oh yes... That's right... On Wednesday evening of last week, a fire started in the laundry room which is located on the second level of my house, and caused severe damage to the structure and contents of my home.

In short, the fire caused the main water line in the house to burst, releasing water to shower down to the bottom level of the house. So, the house not only has fire and smoke damage, but water damage as well. What fun!

I'm without a place to live at least for the next two to three months. I only have three changes of clothes. The only time I have computer access is when I'm at work.

I have to admit that there are moments that I look at what has happened as being extremely depressing. But there are other times, especially when I force myself to, I see the good in all of this. Good? Yep, there is some good.

I would tell you now, but someone is waiting for me. I'll update my blog later, when I get a chance.

In the meantime, pray for me. Pray for my family. Pray that we make it through this awfully challenging time. Pray that we find somewhere to live while we wait for the house to get rebuilt to liveable standards. Just pray...



Sunday, November 04, 2007

Reflections of my Trip to Austin (Part II.)

I sat in the lobby of the rehab center for about 30 or 40 minutes before the lady I was supposed to be meeting with came and got me. I'm usually bored when I have to wait places that long. It's not like I can pick up a magazine and flip through the pages, check out other people's outfits, or text message on my cell phone as I wait. So, waiting is something that I don't get a thrill out of at all.

But waiting for my meeting that morning was not so bad. I was completely enthralled by the number of blind people who were walking, carrying on with life, laughing, working, and learning with such confidence. I was proud to be apart of a group of people that decided to not let the darkness stop them from seeing the light of life.

I sat there and thought about how these people were walking around, some with a quick pace, tapping their canes, doing what they needed to do to be alright. You talking about some survivors!

I hated that even I was not used to seeing this many blind people on point, taking care of business, and handling up on life. I was pleasantly shocked of all the major confidence and solid adjustment that I witnessed in a couple of the people I observed. It was great. It was inspiring.

I sat there and wished that I could be in that environment more often. I wished that the people I love could see these blind people on the move, fighting to have independence, fighting to be alive and happy. I wished that the readers of my blog could see these people as they were carrying out their day. I wished that everyone that's anyone could have seen what I was getting a chance to witness. It was great.

***I'll have a couple more entries regarding my trip to Austin before I leave this series along. Stay tuned and stay inspired.****

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.