Thursday, May 25, 2006


I got great news tonight. I won one of the scholarships from ACB. I’m so honored. Plus, I’m looking forward to going to Florida in July. I need to get away so bad. I need a different experience, different scenery, and different people. Plus, some extra green always makes a sister feel pretty good.

The coolest thing about this is that I will be in Florida the week of my birthday. I’m going to live it up and really enjoy myself. The day of my birthday, I might come up missing from the conference and go to the coast all day and just lie out on the beach. That sounds great! I’m making a commitment right now that I’m going to have so much fun.

Thank you Lord for this scholarship, the paid trip to Jacksonville, and the opportunity to meet some extraordinary folks at the conference. I don’t care what they say about you, you are an awesome God!

Monday, May 22, 2006


This week, I was interviewed by the scholarship committee for the American Council for the Blind. According to one of the committee members, I am one of the top candidates for their annual scholarship program. I was so excited; and not because of the obvious perk of possibly getting the scholarship. The money… I was excited that anyone thought enough of me to think that I deserved to be honored. And most of all, I was excited to be considered to be a prospective scholarship recipient by a group of courageous, overcoming, leaders in the blind community.

To tell you the truth, that’s a major paradigm shift for me. In the past, I really didn’t care to embrace or to be embraced by the blind community. But now that I am mature and able to understand that being blind is not the end of the world, I can readily grasp the importance of aligning myself with other people that are on the same path that I’m on. The path to independence, freedom, liberation, respect, self sufficiency, love, respect, and autonomy...

Hating blindness caused me to somewhat hate my life and hate anything that had to do with being blind. Because the organizations that serve the blind (AFB, ACB, and NFB) do not look at blindness as being a curse or the worst thing that could happen to a person, I sincerely thought the people that were apart of them were out of their minds. So, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the organizations. Celebrating being black and being a woman was cool to me. But celebrating blindness was outright idiotic.

Now, I’m finally at a place that I understand that they were not celebrating blindness per say. These organizations are celebrating the accomplishments, the potential, the courage, the faith, the determination, the stamina, the insistence, and the patience that people who are blind have, despite being blind. When you know what I know about blindness, you realize that when a person has enough courage to rise above blindness, it’s a beautiful, magnificent thing.

(I feel like shouting right about now! What a mighty God I serve! A God that can make darkness turn into light. A God that can give you solace in the darkest hours of your life.)

I made a commitment to join the American Council for the Blind. I know it’s time for me to be apart of this great organization. Plus, my greater understanding of disability and the effects of disability really motivates me to get behind any person, group, or program that’s demanding better access to housing, employment, and technology for the blind. I have a lot of work to do. And I’m ready to get to working.

One way or the other, I’ll let you know if I was offered the scholarship. If I get it, I have to go to Jacksonville, Florida to accept the award. I’m looking forward to the money, the trip, and the fellowship with other people that are blind. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Fountain of Youth

Like most women, I’m concerned about aging. Well, I’m not concerned about getting older per say. I’m concerned about looking older. I’ve already started coloring my hair to disguise the gray strands of hair that my younger sisters are so quick to point out on my head. My left knee sometimes hurts when I’m working out. And hanging out at the mall for a few hours produces an extremely tired woman. I don’t feel like a grandma or nothing like that. I just know for sure that I am not 21 anymore.

The biggest thing that concerns me about looking older is my inability to know if I really am “looking older.” I’m not stupid enough to believe that I look like an 18-year-old. I just don’t know how much older I really look. The last time I actually saw myself, I was 16-years-old. And even then, my vision was pretty blurry. So, the last time I really saw my self, with the help of pretty good eye sight, I was 11 or 12 years old. Of course I don’t picture myself to look like an 11 or 12 year old. I imagine that I look like what that 11 or 12 year old would have grown into. And that’s pretty good looking, I might add.

Truthfully, I really wonder what makes a 31-year-old Angela look different from a 21-year-old Angela. Since I’ve managed to dip my 10 or 15 strands of gray hair in the ocean of forever brown, I know it’s not the gray hair. So, what is it? What is it about me that says WOMAN? Do I look older than what I imagine? Even though it’s not likely, do I look younger than what I imagine?

Well, I discussed this very subject with one of my best friends. She advised me to not worry about it. She said that being blind prevents me from getting the news that so many women are forced to receive when they look into the mirror. She also said that because I haven’t seen myself in so many odd years, I have the advantage of not really aging. My very clever friend suggested that in my mind, I will forever look young. Interestingly enough, that’s probably true. I can’t even come up with an image of how I may look at 40. So, I have decided that I’m going to just freeze this current image of myself in my mental photobook. While other women are stressing over the gifts that the “age fairy” is bringing them, I will forever be a young, beautiful gal.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) and African Americans

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure normally rises and falls. When the blood pressure is elevated over time, it is called high blood pressure. Any person can develop hypertension, which is the technical term for high blood pressure. Blood pressure measures the force of the blood flowing through your blood vessels when the heart contracts to pump blood and when the heart rests between beats. In people with hypertension, the tension within the blood vessels is greater, which makes the heart work harder.

Hypertension has been called the "silent killer" because it can cause damage to many body organs without any symptoms. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, vision problems and even death.


African Americans, and people of African descent in the United Kingdom, have among the highest rates of hypertension of any race or ethnic type in the world.
• 35% of African Americans have hypertension, which accounts for 20% of the African American deaths in the United States - twice the percentage of deaths among whites from hypertension.
• Compared with whites, hypertension develops earlier in life and average blood pressures are much higher in African Americans.
• African Americans with high blood pressure have an 80% higher chance of dying from a stroke than in the general population.
• African Americans with high blood pressure have a 20% higher chance of developing heart disease than in the general population.
• African Americans with high blood pressure have a 4 times greater risk of developing hypertension related end stage kidney disease than the general population.
Victim of Procrastination

Okay… After deciding to start the blogger’s marathon, I’ve already strayed off my path. I would like to blame it on school. But getting my masters is not as hard and does not take up all of my time, like I would like for folks to believe. So, even though I have to turn in a couple of papers to end this semester of grad school, I would be lying if I said that end of the year school work was preventing me from posting to my blog. Schoolwork only takes a small fraction of my time.

To tell you the truth, I am a procrastinator. Don’t tell anyone though. That will be our little secret. I’m a dang good procrastinator. Meaning, I am able to do most of what I do at the last minute, and it looks like I’ve spent a great deal of time and thought on it. But I’ve made a decision to abandon the procrastination. It’s mentally exhausting to do everything in emergency mode. So, I declare that from this day forward that I, Angela L. Braden, will strip off my procrastinator clothes and robe myself with responsibility, good stewardship, and effective time management. That’s quite a mouth full. But I’m going to try. But wait a minute. I can’t say that I’m going to try. I often tell my sisters when they tell me that they are going to “try”, “Trying is not good enough. Just do it.” Well, I guess I should take some of my good advice.

So, for now on, I will adhere to my editorial/blog schedule. Monday: Disability/Blind Issues, Thursday: Social Issues, Friday: African American Health Issues

I’m back in the blogger’s marathon.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Up and Down

One thing that has been consistent in my life is my inconsistent emotions. One minute, I’m convinced I can do anything I put my mind to. And the next minute, I absolutely hate my life. It’s the barriers. I don’t really mind barriers, especially when I have enough strength to leap over, knock down, or dismantle it brick by brick. I just mind it when I cannot figure out how to get pass the barrier. I have to say that lately I have felt like the barriers are closing in on me.

I’m pretty sick of the fact that I cannot find employment. And I’m not being choosy like my other college educated friends. I will work almost anywhere. (The local strip club is out of the question.) For instance, I would go and work retail in the mall, be a waitress, clean up the hotels. But all of those things require sight. The truth is that my sight really does lock me out of a lot of opportunities. No matter how much I parade around and say that my blindness is not a big deal, and that I can do whatever sighted people do, the truth stands up and screams, “Blindness has limited you!”

I’ve considered and tried to start my own business. At this point, I pretty convinced that entrepreneurship is going to be my saving grace. If prospective employers don’t believe in me and my abilities, I believe in me.

I believe I’m smart.
I believe that I am beautiful.
I believe that I am gifted.
I believe that I am able to make an impact on anyone or anything I come in contact with.
I believe that I have what it takes to change the world.
I believe that my abilities out weigh my disabilities.
I believe that anyone or anything that passes on me is missing out on one of the best things that could have happened in their lifetime.

I really do believe all of that. I just get frustrated when I can’t get others, mainly employers, decision makers, or even a fine man, to see that. (One day, when I have enough energy, I’ll blog about the social aspects of disability.) I know I shouldn’t spend so much time wanting and hoping for outside validation. But when my bank account is affected by not being validated by others, it’s a problem. More than not being validated, I hate being broke. Really to tell you the truth; blindness is not what really gets under my skin. Brokeness makes me sicker than sick.

Before I start dwelling on money, let me end this on a positive note.

No matter what my circumstances say, I know that my life is a priceless jewel. I know that I have something to offer to the world. I know that one day I will be able to share that with the world.

Pray for me as I start my journey to be a professional speaker and writer. Pray that the things that I am going through do not distract me from following God’s plan. Pray that these things that I am growing through enhance my speeches, essays, poetry, and articles.

(I was supposed to have posted this on Disability Monday. Forgive me.)