Stop The Fear, Hate, Judgment & Violence Towards Individuals With Disabilities

Why does our society have so much fear towards individuals with disabilities?

Sports and Disabilities
Brandi Addison

Brandi Addison

Feature Writer at RYSE
Just another Journalism major in Texas, inspired by the medias in New York and Boston, driven to someday write in D.C., hoping my words reach even further than this country, and aspiring to become something even bigger than that. I #StandUp2Cancer for my uncle.
Brandi Addison

Why is our society so afraid of the disabled? Why does our society treat the disabled almost as if they’re a crime to be around? Why do some people in our society fear getting near the disabled? Why is disability a laughing matter for some?

I have a few notes for you:

1. Society should not be afraid of the disabled.

2. Being disabled is not a crime.

3. Disabled people do not bite, and their disabilities are (usually) not transmittable. Talk to them. Make new friends.

4. No disability is a laughing matter.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, an individual with a disability is someone who has a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.” This could vary from diabetes to cancer to autism to the hearing impaired to epilepsy to an HIV infection, etc.

In 2014, from the ages of 18-64, the prevalence of individuals with disabilities was 8.4%. This is estimated at approximately one in twelve individuals. It is also estimated that almost 32% of those individuals live below the poverty line, which makes sense because only around 12% of individuals with disabilities work.

So, even after numbers such as one in twelve—equivalent to one disabled person per courtroom jury—why are more opportunities not offered for the disabled? Furthermore, why do we still see violence and hatred against them?

For instance, on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in San Antonio, Texas, a 17-year-old male with disabilities was attacked and robbed by a group of teenagers. Antonio Ferrel was born with radial dysplasia, which limits the movements of his hands. Ferrel met a girl online who claimed to have attended his high school. He’d hung out with her once before the attack. On Monday night, the girl asked him to pick up three of her friends, and upon their arrival, they immediately started hitting him. He fell to the ground and they kicked him repeatedly and stole his car. Ferrel was discovered on the ground by a passerby who pulled over to help.

Another attack against an individual with disabilities happened this past December 2nd, in Staten Island. Deandre Bloomfield was attacked by a boy who he thought was a friend; he was doused with cologne and set on fire. Bloomfield is disabled and could not run.

While stories as these are heartbreaking to read, they are not uncommon. Other headlines written within the past month, read as: “Disabled boy ‘savagely attacked’ in west Belfast,” “Gang sentenced for heartless attack on disabled man,” “Disabled girl, 10, is victim of hate crime in Lincoln,” and many other similar headlines. It is such a shame that this is such a common issue.

As a reminder, a few incredibly successful individuals who have changed our world for the better, have/had disabilities. For instance, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had polio. Stevie Wonder was born six weeks early and was born blind. Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21. Helen Keller was born deaf and blind. Thomas Edison is believed to have had dyslexia and ADHD. It has been said that Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant men to have ever lived,  would be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome if born today.

Without these individuals, the world would not be quite as advanced and as educated as it is today, politics would not be the same, and we would be yearning for the style of music Wonder blesses us with.

As the prevalence for disabilities continues to increase, the violence and hate crime seems to be proportional. The fear of the disabled needs to end. Opportunities for the disabled need to flourish. Violence and hate crimes against the disabled need to diminish. The societal stigma of mental illness needs to be stopped.

It is our job to RYSE up against all violence and hate crimes, and to stand behind the disabled, even when they can not—especially when they can not—stand for themselves.



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