Dear Ms. Mahoney,
I read your book For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind, and you’ve gone further than sighted people in trying to decode the fear of blindness. I am most notably proud of your work in Tibet and other countries that don’t value blind people. Blind individuals in those countries should be reading, writing, and living and loving with their disability, but violence, government corruption, and gender favoritism prevents and precludes all that. Even here in the United States, blindness being a low incidence disability is still feared. Here’s how my life as a blind woman is here in the United States.
Currently, I have no employment, and DVR Colorado (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) or commission for the blind as some like to call it is a joke. It was a joke for a long time, and though things changed, I highly doubt they will change for the better. DVR forced me to visit Dr. David Benson, a psychologist from Colorado Springs, who was in the Anthem Building. An assistant gave me a battery of memory tests and bullshit like that, but Benson’s comments were highly inappropriate because a. I was studying Islam and hence wearing hijab in the office, causing him to think that I was “pretending to be Arab”; and B. He made brazen statements pointing to child marriage, though this is a hot button topic. It was all inappropriate and racist, and it didn’t help matters that I was blind, and he said I couldn’t do social work. I placed a complaint on his license from the Department of Regulatory Affairs in Colorado or should I say Agencies? Okay. After this complaint, I tried to pursue work, and was bogged by those comments. Why would a bigot even be allowed to test or evaluate people in any way? Why should he? He was not only an Islamophobe, he was a … should we pen the word blindophobe? I don’t think he cares enough about his job, and blindness means instability to these entitled assholes like the doctor I described.
So begins the next chapter of my messed up life. I met and moved in with a blind man, but did you know that this blind man was black? Oh, I’m not sure you did. I am being pestered to going to DVR for job placement, but this job placement could slot me at the bottom forever, and the job would mean no upward mobility. MOst blind folks who work in the U.S. don’t work in meaningful employment because of their state rehab services, and are sheltered in workshops that pay pennies per hour. Goodwill is an example. This is why I want nothing to do with work, and nothing to do with any business outfit that claims to prep blind people for work because it’s all a joke. It’s nothing but a joke, and … just imagine, not talking politely about subjects you enjoy, not allowing you to converse with anyone of the opposite sex, whatever else you can think of. Any job site could also be a risk of workplace sexual harassment, especially for blind women. As a blind woman, I’ve watched the news, and I blog because there’s nothing in my life worth doing except for the music I wish I could write. But nobody supports blind entrepreneurs here in the States.
In any case, my blind fiance and I are also going to have a pretty empty wedding guest list too. We cannot go on a honeymoon, nor can we celebrate properly with family and friends. So called friends say that we’re not worthy of their attendance at our wedding, and honestly, these people have some sight, but I bet the total blindness, the slut comments I’ve had spewed about me, and the words and names I’ve been called have something to do with it. This wedding should be a time of celebration, of love, of family and real friends, but in the blind world in America, there’s no friends. Only followers, people you get to know via social media. Our lives may not be as bad as those of your students in India, Tibet, and other developing nations, but the developed world should not be this far behind. Blind people should not be a microcosm of high school for the sighted, it should be a jewel on the community’s crown, should we decide to even wear the crown of pride in our work.
The average blind person, including myself, makes way under $1000, I was lucky enough to get my full check this month and such, and about 75 to 80% are un or under employed. Underserved would be another way to put it. While your students may contribute to the economy of the countries they eventually take root in, it is highly unlikely that any blind American reading this will get up, find your books, and believe in themselves. We as a society refuse to hire any blind people, and even ask irrelevant questions to throw them off which is illegal. I should go to job interviews determined that I will get a job position, but like my friends Clayton Jacobs, Blake Tucker, Trenton (my fiance btw), and even Jason Milyo and Josh Kennedy, there might even be a Barbie Roberts and Ken Roberts in there somewhere, but like this list of persons I know and love, I could be rejected too many times and age away from work. No job, no way to finance a family, and partially due to parental guardianship abuse too. Did you know that 80% of blind females in the U.S. have been direct witnesses or victims of sex abuse or assault? Such things occur I’m sure a lot more in India, China, Tibet, etc. Think about it.
As a result of this, people have skewed opinions and fears about female action and blindness. Females who are blind are seen as goddesses of sex, but for the greater society, having sex with a virgin does not cure AIDS, a myth that Africans hold. I don’t get this. My parents got their guardianship to protect me from not just one man, but to prevent me from being in the public eye, to isolate me, drug me, abuse their power with me, and possibly murder. There was the tragedy of Kelly Marie Bond, who died as a result of what my friend Lacey suspects is murder by her own family for being disabled, and Lacey had little time to express that. Kelly’s sister Emily didn’t even sound like she mourned her sister’s death, in fact the girl sounded like she just got a bouquet of roses at prom from a sweetheart. It was an unacceptable response to the murder of a disabled family member.
To prevent tragedies like Kelly’s, I’ve thought of creating a group for it, but no, nobody’s interested. I think it’s important that people be interested in the welfare of their own people, including me, without name calling. This is common with sighted women and girls. Girls are called slut in high school, but I was called that as an adult, and was called a bitch. I don’t care who did it, I swore at my counselor and said it wouldn’t happen again.
Blind women here in the U.S. are feared as much as if not more than your students in India or China or Tibet because we’re low incidence. Blind women should be examples for sighted women, but alas, we’re not.
I’d like to honestly say your piece I saw lately on wordpress was a treasure. Fear of blindness leads to lives like mine, suffered at the hands of bigots, and I honestly am exposing every little bigoted lie I’ve been told about myself and other blind women, whether we worship God, Allah, or Buddha. I don’t care. We’re women, members of the human body, and we should be respected. I am just one of over a million females with disabilities who has to deal with sexual assault whether from friends, done to friends, or done to themselves. I am one of about 90% of guardianship abuse cases that ends in isolation, abuse, and denial of rights because of blindness. I am one of only 2% perhaps that escaped guardianship, went to live in Colorado, and now has to tough it out on SSI because the job market has me at a statistic, 75% or more unemployed.
I am also one of 10% of blind adults and children combined who know Braille, which for 90% of Braille literate adults should have led to employment, but most employed blind are male. Most of these employed males who are blind show signs of entitlement over those who aren’t, and if you read my FB page, some of the males I’ve known on there ridicule me for all they want to, thinking it okay to do so. I wouldn’t work for half of them, but those who don’t forget where they come from are usually a lot nicer.
I know some males who work who aren’t entitled, but usually it’s those who do the DVR thing that feel like we females are fair game.
Anyway, take my life story seriously. Fear of the blind is not only in the developed world, but in the states as well.