Thursday, June 10
Disclaimer: I use the word "cripple" in this post, so if it offends you, stop reading. I feel like I can use this only in reference to myself, since I am a person living with a disability and it does not make me uncomfortable. I would never use it on someone else without knowing fully that they were ok with it as well. If anything, I like the fact that I use the word without cringing. I've owned it.
I tend to do a lot of soul-searching, mostly to keep myself in check, making sure my attitudes, motives, and actions are all coming from a "good" place.
During one peek inside my head recently, I asked myself if I was so optimistic and outgoing just to make sure no one placed me into the stereotype of "angry cripple." My immediate reaction to my thoughts was, "Of course not! I'm a happy person!"
Now don't worry, I didn't actually have an audible conversation with myself, although if I did, it probably would not have been the first one...or the last.
I pondered it, and and as I originally thought, I was quite sure that, for the most part, I truly feel optimistic about life, and I really just like being nice to people. No worries about people lumping me in with the "angry cripples." But guess what? I do, more often than you'd think, get lumped into the category of "super-crip" - a stereotype usually perpetuated by other people with disabilities who think of "one of their own" as "Pollyanna-ish" if you're too upbeat and positive. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.
We don't have to look far to see stereotyping. Asians are supposed to be smarter than everyone...African-Americans are supposed to like watermelon (I ♥ watermelon) Latin-Americans, Gay men, Lesbian women, Band Geeks, Jocks, Cheerleaders, Democrats, Republicans, Southerners (watch it!), Northerners, Irish people, Jewish people, Blonds, etc...you get the picture. Society has managed to attach a stereotype to pretty much every walk of life.
Stereotypes can put pressure on people to act, or not act, a certain way for fear of being misunderstood. In my humble opinion, none of them are good, not even the so-called "positive" stereotypes because we shouldn't have to try to be anything we're not.
If you want to put someone on a pedestal, or abhor them, fine...but know who they are before you make that decision. Don't do it based on perceived notions. Call me a "super-crip" because I can bench press 125 pounds for 3 sets of 15, or do bicep curls with 20 pound dumb bells. Heck, I even impress myself sometimes! But don't call me one because I smile a lot.
If people don't like someone for who they truly are, that's OK. There are plenty of people who will.
Posted by Team Chastain at 9:01 PM