MLK and “The Lest of Thee”

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The notion of being “love struck” as opposed to “color-blind” is relatively important when it comes to folks with disabilities. Being color blind only suggest that people do not see color and everyone should get along based on the notion that we are all the same color. What about the difference of physical appearance? The social definition of what is “normal or humane” has been etched into society’s psyche so deep that it does not have to be said because it is already understood. If one is asked to explain what beauty look likes, or to explain the characteristics of a beautiful person they will be hard pressed to create an explanation out of whole cloth. It is something that is not explained but can be pointed out. If someone’s body differs or deviates from that unwritten definition then they are not normal but classified as different.

People with disabilities undeniably lament an enigmatic mind state for mainstream society. For people with disabilities being color blind only solves part of their societal issues and does not even address the fundamental concept of what is normal and socially accepted in terms of able bodiness. People with disabilities are sifted in this American Diaspora and are not challenged by society to a level of excellence or mediocrity but failure is expected and accepted. Any person or race that is not challenged to excellence is done a disservice by mainstream society. Dr. King’s notion of being love struck embodies this great country’s motto “E pluribus unum,” and was intended to prevent any race or group from social inertia.

Black and white leadership today has failed people with disabilities since the death of Dr. King leaving them in the shadows as each decade passes with issues such as gay rights, immigration, war on drugs, and healthcare are in the forefront. People with disabilities are still not fully included in society, for example, it was May 17th, 1954 that Brown vs. Board of Education delivered the decision that segregation based on race was unconstitutional, but schools are still segregated today. Special education in schools is a segregation of students with disabilities from all of the “normal” students which is flagrant because this segregation spills over into mainstream society. Why has leadership not pushed for a more inclusive “we” instead of excluding the lest of thee? As we close upon the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech let us remember that people with disabilities were included in that dream, not out of rhetoric but love.

Roosevelt Mitchell III, M.Ed is an intellectual activist, writer, and speaker in the battle against social injustice. Contact him at (314) 708-9180 or rooseveltmitchell@yahoo.com or visit http://www.rooseveltmitchell.com

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