Living in a Not So Perfect WorldJune 26, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Ramblings, Speaking Engagements, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
Tags: Barton Cutter, disability, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, disability self advocacy, Megan Cutter, self advocacy, Speaking Engagements
I wish I could say that all of our stories are filled with laughter of dented doors and wild puppy stories; after all, we could fill your ears all night long with them. But then we’d be looking through rose-colored glasses. Occasionally, we experience the heartache of pretty blatant discrimination (let’s just be frank and just call it what it is), especially from the professional community. How could there possibly be a community leader with a developmental disability?
Last year, Barton and I attended a session at a disability conference where a nationally known speaking organization talked about the ways in which their speaking group can be beneficial to people with disabilities. We visited a local group several times, with members that were both colleagues and local community leaders.
However, when we wanted to join, we hit a brick wall realizing that certain members were intimidated and concerned about Barton’s slurred speech, and they were stalling when we offered other ways in which those concerns could be accommodated. I could join, but Barton could not.
I was amazed not only by the blatant discrimination, but also by my reaction to it. I had looked up to several members of this organization, who are also prominent motivational speakers and people I personally had wanted to work with in other arenas. I was speechless at how angry and betrayed I felt, which I had to look at more closely. I had to separate the actions of a few members, which did not represent those attitudes of others.
Barton has dealt with discrimination in one way or another is whole life, and has learned to “just do it anyway,” no matter what. I am still in the process of learning how to move with ease through some of these experiences. While I was labeled one of the outcast kids in school growing up, I didn’t really experience blatant discrimination until I spent a semester in Australia.
In this particular situation, we did write a letter to the national office, not really expecting any response back but needing to call it out and voice what we had experienced. Since we have not received a response, we have blocked out any identifying information. Self Advocacy Letter
Fortunately, Barton and I continue to speak together and individually at many types of events- meetings, conferences, community events, open mic nights, and readings, which are held both on a local and national level. We’re continually amazed to see how sharing our story offers the space for others to open their eyes, overcome challenges and for many, lead to a place of healing.
Barton and I are continually working on how we present together when we speak as a couple, which I guarantee isn’t taught in a speaking workshop.
And, you know, we’re okay with that.
If you’re interested in attending one of our speaking engagements or are interested in having us speak to your organization, please visit http://www.cuttersword.com/events.html.