Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cultural EMPOWERMENT for Women

Penn State has been receiving funding to empower women  in their lives.  I have attended several of these workshops which includes a healthy lunch and  time to share experiences with other women of a variety of backgrounds.  Today's session on  "Networking" was the BEST for me in terms of gaining usable information for my current life experiences.  Of  the  three women on the panel, Theresa Vescio, Ph.D. whose research interests is in the relationship between power and stereotyping.  She mentioned every "ism" accept ableism, however her research holds true for the experience of those with disabilities. I didn't know there was  so much current investigation in this important area in academia.  Racism. white men, and white women who assume the behavior of white men and discriminate against other women,especially those of color, and  those with disabilities.

This has been my experience since my memoirs, It's Easier to Dance, was released in July, 2010.  Merging the reality of being black and developmentally disabled with a superior intellect has elicited, in some incidences such outrage that there have been incidents of violent behavior.  Local, state and federal government as well as law enforcement simply refuse to address the issue.  Instead, it is treated as a civil or social issue, when, in fact state and federal laws are being violated with increasing frequency.  Oddly enough, I feel less afraid than when such bias was more covert.  I have traded so-called favors for consequences for unethical behavior and continue to behave accordingly.  Phony friends have fallen away and real friendships have formed, some familiar, some new.

As I read of the increasing number of unexplained deaths of those with developmentally disabilities in nursing homes, home based care agencies, and group homes, I ponder why my life has been spared thus far.  Teachers from many religious and spiritual traditions insist that it is my "Karma" or "God's Will. I only know that as I proceed, I am connecting with more and more women on the same path and there is a combined inner strength that I have never known..


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