Sunday, June 22, 2008

Check this article out about David Paterson.

I've been meaning to blog about David Paterson every since he was granted the opportunity to become governor of New York. But time always got away from me, and I never got around to doing it. I guess I really wanted to write a thoughtful post. And up until this particular post, I really had very little that I wanted to publically say about this historical appointment.
Well, I found an article about the brotha that I felt was worth sharing. My next post will be my thoughts on the article, David Paterson, and reflections about my experiences with what this particular article is about, feeling ashamed about being blind.

So, check out the article. It's nice. And let me know what you think.
Perhaps tomorrow or another day this week, I will post my response to this article, as well as my thoughts on David Paterson and his historical appointment to the highest governmental office held by a blind person in the United States of America. (Shucks, probably the world...)

David Paterson: I was ashamed to be blind.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Six Foot Tall Kite and My Six Foot Tall Daddy: They both gave me some joy today.

I’m so excited!!! Today, on Father’s Day, about an hour and twenty minutes ago, I got a chance to do something that I always wanted to do. Something that I dreamed about doing when I was a child, a child that could see… I got a chance to fly a kite!!!

When I was a kid, I remember seeing some of the older kids in our neighborhood having a great time, flying beautiful, multicolored kites in the open, clear, blue sky. I would watch the kite as it soared above the earth, looking so free, so magical, so effortless. Then, I would trace the string of the kite back to the hand of the smiling kid that held on to the kite with delight. Boy, I wished that I was that kid for that brief, shining moment.

I would always ask my mother and father to please buy me a kite. But they never got a chance. At the age of ten, tragedy struck me, and I started losing my eye sight. The desire to fly a kite really had been pushed to the back of my mind by my desire to just survive another day. And my parent’s goal was to do everything in their power to help me grow into a healthy, productive, centered young woman despite my blindness. So needless to say, the opportunity to fly a kite really never presented itself to me. My folks and I were too busy trying to make it. We certainly weren’t thinking about kites.

Today all of that changed.

My baby sister, Kim, bought a kite that is six feet tall. The truth is that I have no idea what color it is. For some strange reason, I pictured it to be lime green. **shrug** I wonder why? Maybe it has something to do with my addiction to Mountain Dew... But anyway…

This morning, I told my mother that I always wanted to fly a kite. And I never got the chance to do it before I lost my sight. Well, my mother told me that if I wanted to fly a kite, go outside and fly one. She told me that the lack of eye sight had nothing to do with my ability to hold the kite as it flew in the sky.

Well, I went outside with my father and my two sisters, Frances and Kim. We waited outside for a couple of hours until the wind decided to visit us. Actually, Frances got tired of waiting, and she went back into the house.

Well, when the wind started blowing, I ran in the house and told Frances to come outside with me to fly the kite. Frances, who is always ready to clown around and have fun, ran outside to fly that big old kite.

We went out into the middle of the street, ready to do our thing. Well, Frances couldn’t really get the kite up in the air long enough for it to stay. So, my father came out to the street with us and helped Frances lift the kite into the sky.

Well, that kite took off and started flying above us. Frances brought the end of the string to me so that I could hold it. The kite lifted more and more in the sky, and the string unraveled more and more in my hand as the kite lifted into the open sky.

A feeling of complete joy and exhilaration filled my heart. I was overwhelmed. I felt so free, so accomplished, so thankful that I was getting a chance to do something that I always wanted to do.

And you know what… I didn’t give a dang that I couldn’t see. I was content as ever. I’m glad that I listened to mama, and didn’t allow my blindness to stop me from fulfilling a life long dream. And it also didn't matter that I was a good and grown woman. For that moment, as I was holding that kite, I was lost in time, standing in the crack between time and eternity. I was happy, and nothing else mattered for that moment.

What was even greater about holding that kite as it soared in the sky above me was the fact that I was out there flying that kite with my father. What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon on Father’s Day. I was flying a kite with my daddy. **huge smile** Just thinking about it right now makes my heart fill up with gladness.

Sometimes living gets on my nerves. But this afternoon, I was so glad that I was here, feeling the air blow against my face, hearing the laugh of Frances and Kim, anchoring the kite as it pulled from my hand, and sharing an unforgettable afternoon with the man that I love the most, my father. I live to have moments like that, moments that I can hold close to my heart and cherish for life. Even after me or Daddy have passed from this life, no matter who goes first, that memory will be left with one of us. What a wonderful gift.

Daddy, Happy Father’s Day! Thanks for always giving me your best. I wish you many more happy years. And I wish myself more happy years with you in my life.

Much love and more opportunities to fly a kite with my daddy,
Angela Braden
Thurman’s Oldest Child
(Yes, I’m pulling rank like that. **wink**)

Happy Father’s Day to all you daddies who have accepted the challenge to protect, to provide for, to love, to teach, to direct, to expose, to embrace, to affirm, to connect with, to enjoy your children. I applaud you for being a man and doing what is right.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Borrowed from Temple University's Disability Studies Blog

**I thought that this essay was great. It really made me think about myself and how I choose to live my life. And it really made me think about what I would tell a young person with a disability. So many layers... So much to consider... So much to really think about...
so, I thought I would share it with you. Let me know what you think.**

What Should We Tell Them?
Outside of my office window I have seen lines of young graduates since at Temple there is a event hall used for many programs such as Graduation. Looking
around my office, I also see a lineup of Disability Studies books from theory to autobiography to poetry. I then glance up on my wall and see my degree,
which I earned many years ago. All of this caused me to reflect on the youth with disabilities who are today's graduates.

In many ways, their experience of life and their micro and macro worlds are quite different than my generation of peers with disabilities. Certainly this
is a great accomplishment for society, but then reality sinks in and I realize that in many ways the youth of today are facing the same challenges of discrimination
and stereotypes as we.

So what advice can we give a young person with a disability who has dreams and aspirations and may still be innocent of the thorns that may wound the spirit
and bruise the ego? Do we tell him or her about the different theories of social repression experienced by those in any minority? Do we speak of making
activism a relentless activity that consumes all your energy and concentration? Do we deconstruct for him or her the inequality of privilege and how this
nebulous concept is ironically very concrete and palpable in one's daily existence? Should we explain how to be skeptical and wary of employers who may
seem receptive but who are just skilled at understanding the Americans With Disabilities Act, and who don't want to be accused of discrimination? And last
of all do we espouse the ideals of independence, and how one must do everything at the sacrifice of their own comfort and simple life pleasures to prove
their independence?

Naturally these rhetorical questions imply a set of values that should be questioned by scholars and other proponents of disability rights and culture.
Although the social and political climate in which I grew up in many ways was thought of as progressive and liberating, I am now understanding that many
of the ideologies which I osmonically inhaled were variations of the dominant social culture's values and beliefs. I hope that my advice to youth with
disabilities might be just a little bit less demanding and a little more empathetic of the totality of their person. I hope that among the words of wisdom
I would give is that everyone has their own wisdom inside. That they should spend equal if not more time and energy enjoying themselves and their peers,
having fun, being reckless, not being bound to a regiment of goals. Spend the days and evenings exploring life through laughter and yes, through love.
Love and be loved. Be empowered by being yourself, by being weak when you feel overwhelmed, and by reaching out when you need others. People who are able-bodied
do this all the time. They just don't have it formalized the way people with disabilities are expected to go through a certain procedure of accessing help.

My last piece of advice, which probably will make a lot of people within and outside of the disability community wince, is be damned with independence.
It is not the measurement of one's value. There is nothing more courageous and genuine than saying, "I am confident and comfortable enough in myself that
I know I need you to help me get through or even just be where I am."
Posted by Carol Marfisi at
Temple University's Disability Studies Blog

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I know you don't realize it, but...

Yesterday, we had a staff meeting at my place of employment. Well, during the meeting, I heard at least two people say, "Everybody has a disability." Here's some insight about the two that said it... Neither one of them actually have a disability, mental or physical. They may indeed have some issues that are deemed as less than perfect. But disabled… I don’t think so.

So why did they say that everyone has a disability?
Well, I think that they were sincerely trying to make us disabled folks not feel alone in this "awful life" that we are being forced by God to live.

"Don't worry, Angela. I'm disabled too. You're blind. And I... Um... Well, I'm allergic to peanuts."
“Don’t worry, young man. I know you can’t walk due to being paralyzed from the chest down, but I’m disabled too. I have to drink coffee every morning, or I’ll be falling asleep at my desk.”
“Hey young lady. Don’t feel so bad about being def. I’m disabled too. Don’t you see all this acne all over my face that I can’t get rid of?
“I know you might not have a right arm, young veteran… Don’t feel bad… I can’t manage to remember to pay my bills on time.”
“I know that you have multiple personalities, but I have multiple colors of hair. I just can’t seem to get this gray out of my aging hair.”

Forgive me... But that's how ridiculous it sounds for someone that does not have a physical or mental disability, trying to tell me, a blind woman, or any other person with a significant disability that they are disabled too.

For the record, a shortcoming, a challenge, a personality flaw is not a disability.
A disability is a physical and/or mental condition/impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.
So, let me further break this down for you.
A person needing to wear reading glasses to read the print in a telephone book is not disabled. But a person that needs to put a two inch magnifying glass over the pages of the telephone book just to slowly read one word at a time while their strained eyes are watering may indeed qualify as disabled.
A person that can't walk in heels because their knees hurt is not disabled. But if you can't stand up and walk from your bed to the bathroom without falling over, you are definitely disabled.
If you have a headache from time to time, you are not disabled. But if you have chronic migraines that make it hard for you to be around any sounds, to lift your head from the pillow, and to make it throughout the day without taking prescription drugs to manage the pain, you may indeed be disabled.
“If you have to wear an incontinence pad because of you not being able to hold your urine until you get to the bathroom does not make you disabled. But if you need assistance to transfer from your wheelchair to the toilet, that may indeed qualify you as disabled.
If you’re having a bad day and folks are getting on your nerves, you don’t have a mental disability. But if you are hearing voices, can’t manage your vacillating emotions, cannot sleep for days unless you have a prescribed sleeping aid, you are certainly disabled.

Basically, a disability significantly impacts a person’s ability to live independently, to do daily tasks that come easy to others, such as bathing, toileting, cooking, driving, walking, reading a book, and so on… A disability significantly impacts a person’s ability to prepare for, find, and maintain employment.
A real disability creates barriers that require you to need tools, equipment, and comprehensive strategies to bring those barriers down.

So, the next time you want to make a disabled person feel included, be nice, be respectful, be friendly, be compassionate, be understanding.
But whatever you do, do not minimize their physical and/or mental challenges by somehow trying to make your shortcomings equal to a disability. It just ain’t cool.


Angela B.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Charge

Sometimes, I really get down about this whole blind thing, family issues, and just life in general. Living sometimes feels like a chore, a never ending task, an endless road that leads me to the land of nowhere.

But then, as I'm sitting, with a hand full of confetti and ready to blow up the balloons for my pity party, God reminds me that I do not have to allow my tragedy, the loss of my sight, my family problems, and everything else to define me. I define me and this life I’m living.

I'm in charge of my life. My blindness may have an influence on how I do daily tasks. But my blindness, my disability is not in charge. It doesn't boss me.

I'm a slave to nothing but God.

My family situation may indeed impact the choices that I have to make, the arrangements I have to make, and the way I plan my life. But it is not in charge of me. My family situation does not define my life. In fact, Angela defines, shapes, and directs the family situations. I boss it. It doesn’t boss me. My presence in the family impacts the situations. I create the change. The family situation will not change me. I’m in charge of this.

I’m a slave to nothing but God.

In the recent days, I’ve been worried about my career, how I’m going to make some money to take care of myself. But I’m not going to allow worry fear, and anxiety to define me. I’m in charge of my finances and my career path. If God said go, I will go. And I don’t have to worry about the provision. God supplies and undergirds what He has ordained. He will not send me anywhere and won’t meet my needs. If He is indeed the one that is sending me, He has an abundance waiting for me. But I have to trust Him enough to accept the call, get up, and go. And that is when He will reveal the provision, no sooner, no later. And I believe that!

I’m a slave to nothing but God. And I don’t mind being a slave to Him.
You know why?
Being a slave to God makes me a free woman. More free than I've ever been before in this life...

So the truth is that I’m actually not in charge. God is in charge. He’s the boss. And He has given me the liberty, the right, the power to take charge of my life, my destiny, my position in this world. And I am handling up on that charge from God to be in charge.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


When I sit down and think about my teen years, I really feel like I’m remembering scenes from a movie. Yeah, it was my life, but it really seems a little surreal. I guess it’s because I don’t even know how I made it through those awful times. But I did. I’m here. And although I’m a little bruised up, I’m still in one piece, a whole piece. And for that, I thank God.

The other day I was talking to Devia, one of my best friends, about life’s tragedies, and how those tragedies really do impact how we see ourselves and the world we live in. During the conversation, she asked me how old I was when I left my home in Houston and moved to the Texas School for the Blind in Austin. I told her that I was thirteen-years-old. She was shocked that I was so young when I was forced to leave my parents.

And the truth is that I was so young... I was only thirteen-years-old. A baby… A young child… And there I was, being overshadowed by the giant that had come to destroy me. And instead of me being able to have my parents there to help me fight this giant, I was removed from them, and left in a world that felt so foreign, so alien, so lonely.

My parents, along with other educational professionals, felt that it was best that I go to Austin to attend TSB’s summer program. Honestly, I don’t remember how I felt about the idea. I just remember being horrified when my parents were driving away from the school and leaving me with all those strangers. And even though I was there for six weeks, one of the few things I remember about that summer was me crying day and night. I remember calling my parents every single day and begging them to come and get me. I remember bawling every time my mother said no. I didn’t understand how this woman, who I sincerely believed loved me, could possibly leave her child, who was going blind, at a school that was 150 miles away from her. Pain and sorrow sandwiched me as I tried to understand, to accept, to submit to the fact that my parents knew what was best for me.

Another thing I remember is that so many of the other students that were attending the program were happy to be in Austin for the summer. They were getting a chance to hang out with friends that they only got a chance to see when they would come to the summer program. They were getting a chance to socialize with other visually impaired children, which meant that they didn’t have to deal with the hassle and strain of trying to be friends with insensitive, sometimes rude sighted kids. Many of them were getting a chance to have summer flings with other blind children, who didn’t have an issue with dating a person that happened to be blind or partially sighted. And some were happy that they were getting away from their overly protective parents and getting a chance to spread their wings and be independent, even if it was for only a few weeks.

I was the only nut that was sitting in a corner, crying, throwing a pity party, and getting on many of the other kids nerves. There was this guy, a white boy from Ft. Worth, that bought me a milk shake to cheer me up.

Every few years, I’ll run into Bobby at different events. He often reminds me how he bought me that milk shake to make me stop crying. I tell him that I blame him for introducing me to using food as a way to find comfort. We share that laugh together, and we also share the memory of me being a broke down young girl, feeling like the world had caved in on me.

More later…

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Random Reflections

1. I'm so thankful for good psychological health.
Yesterday, I went with my aunt to her psychiatric appointment. We had to wait two hours to see the doc. As we were sitting there, I observed the other people that were waiting in the waiting area to see the psychiatrist.
After only a few minutes, I could tell that half of the people that were waiting to see the psychiatrist had some kind of psychological issue. But the other half... Well, it wasn't so clear.
But what was obvious to me is how mental and emotional impairments are truly an invisible condition. And yes, while it may be invisible, the effects of the impairment are usually crystal clear to the family members of the one with the psychological impairment.
It's so sad how mental illness destroys some people lives. It's so sad how mental illness has majorly impacted so many members of my very own family's lives.
While listening in on some of the conversations that were going on around me in that waiting room, I began to be thankful for my mind. I listened to a 15-year-old young man tell someone how excited he is that he knows his time tables. He went on to tell the man that although he is good with his time tables, he's not good in "genomotry". And that's exactly how he said it.
I sat there and thanked God for my good mind. Yeah, I can't see. But I can think clearly. I can learn. I can solve my problems. I can create. I can manage my own affairs.

2. I now understand why certain people pack up all of their stuff and move to the other side of the country to get away from their family.
That's all I'm going to say about that right now. More later...
Certain family members are getting on my nerves so bad that I can't even write about it right now... **smile**

3. Sometimes, even I forget that I can't see.
Yesterday, my friend, Chad, was painting the inside of his house. I called him to see how it was going. Well, he bragged about what a good job he and his buddies were doing.
After I hung up the phone, I started to tell my daddy to go over to Chad's house so that "we" could "see" how the paint looked. Then, as suddenly as the desire popped into my head, I remembered that I could not see anything at all. Yeah, I could go over to Chad's house, but I wouldn't see any paint. So, I decided to not even mention to my dad that I wanted to go by Chad's house. What was the point?

4. I'm going to Chicago at the end of the month to hook up with Miko and some of her friends. I'm looking forward to the trip. I need the time away. I can't really afford it, but my emotions cannot afford not getting some kind of break.

5. I'm so glad that the primary election has FINALLY ENDED. Praise God!!!
And I'm even more glad that my candidate, Senator Obama won the nomination of the DNC.
I'm so excited!!! And I'm so thankful that I am getting the chance to witness this myself. I don't have to read about it, or imagine it happening one day. It's happening now. And I'm apart of it. **huge grin**

5. I can't say it enough... I love Gabby, Jasmine, and Joseph. They are light and love. I praise God that He has been so kind to me by sharing them with me.
So often, I get a little frustrated and sad. But when I think of the kids, I get a little boost, a little bit more enthusiasm about staying the course and fighting this battle out. They, each one of them, in their own little special way, are my inspirations.

6. Gas in Houston is $3.83. They claim that gas will be $4.05 by the 4th of July.
No comment... Just a big frown...

7. I am so tired of Noggin being on my television day and night. Jasmine is a huge Noggin fan. and because Jasmine basically lives here, Noggin does to.
She better be glad that I happen to like her. **wink**

8. I fell down the stairs today.
Earlier this morning, I was coming down the stairs at the speed that I usually walk down them, and my foot slipped off the step. Well, I went down fast and hard. My big toe got bent up pretty bad.
Honestly, I think that it might be broke. It's swelling up pretty bad. I'm going to go to the hospital later this evening. I'll update y'all as I know something.

9. Cell phone, cable, and internet bills get on my nerves.
Honestly, I understand and realize that we have to pay for electricity, water, and gas service. And I even understand that we need to pay for cable, cell phone, and internet access. But why so much? I'm so tired of communication and entertainment outlets taking so much of my money. It's sickening!

10. I'm looking for another job.
I want to teach in the college setting. So, pray that I get that opportunity this academic year. Teaching during the presidential election would be fantastic!

More Questions and Answers

A couple more questions have hit my in box in the last week. Here are the questions and answers.
Remember, if you have a question hit me up.
I'll be taking questions until July 12th, my birthday.

Nancy in Austin asked me, "How long did it take you to learn braille?"
It probably took me four months to learn both grade one and grade two braille. It took me a couple more months to learn the braille code that is used for math.
Grade 1 braille is words written out in long form. For instance, when you write the word "can", you would use all letters to write the word "can". But in Grade 2 braille you would have the option of contracting certain words. For example, the word "can" in Grade 2 braille would be spelled with just a "c". Basically, it's like shorthand or abbreviated versions of words.
Grade 2 braille is the bomb!
Here's a question that I will throw in as a bonus...
Can you read braille pretty well? My accuracy is on point. But my speed is terrible. It takes me so long to read one sentence. In fact, I avoid braille when I can because of that reason.
Supposedly, if I read braille more often, my reading speed would increase. Probably so... But it seems like my fingers go numb after reading for 15 minutes. Perhaps it's all psychological... I don't know...
Even though I can't read braille fast, I can write it like a pro. When it comes to typing braille, these fingers can move. In fact, I can type print like a olympic typist. That's one of my talents. **smile** Even with long nails, these fingers can move like fire.

Devia in Dallas asked, "Do you have some kind of machine to read print to you?"
I do not have a stand alone machine that reads print. But I do have a standard scanner that works with special software that will allow a scanned copy of print to be translated into speech. I happen to own both of the leading software packages that allows blind individuals to read print with a scanner. I also use this software at my job.
If I had this software when I was in undergrad, I probably would've graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Oh well... At least it's out now.

Okay... That's it. Remember, if you have any questions that you want to ask me, shoot them to the comment section or e-mail me at
Don't be scared to ask your questions. I'm here to answer what you want to know.