Yesterday, May 1, was Blog Against Disablism Day.
I wanted to write something good, something intelligent, perhaps something engaging as my contribution to the effort.
Nothing came to mind.
Then I picked up the New York Times this morning and read about Dayniah Manderson.
Ms. Manderson and I have a lot in common. We are both teachers. We both teach in the east side of the Bronx. We both teach 6th graders.
When the elevator in my school doesn’t work I haul my cart and carcass up the stairs.
When the elevator in Ms. Manderson’s school doesn’t work she can’t do that.
My cart, at its most full, weighs about twenty pounds.
Ms. Manderson’s weighs just under 300 pounds.
Ms. Manderson has spinal muscular atrophy and her “cart” is her electric wheelchair.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy is something one is born with.
Children born with Type I usually die before they turn two. Ms. Manderson has Type II. People with that form of the disease rarely live past 30.
I don’t know how old Ms. Manderson is. It doesn’t matter so much because she is doing a lot with whatever time she has.
But this essay is not about Ms. Manderson.
It is also not about the principal who told Ms. Manderson that if she were hired as a teacher the students might “throw her down the stairs.”
No, this is about the other principal. The one who looked at Ms. Manderson and saw a teacher with potential, not just a person with paralysis.
I don’t know that principal’s name, but he or she got it and is one less person we have to convince not to engage in disablism.
Small victories need to be celebrated.
Thanks, Deven, for introducing us to a remarkable woman. She may or may not live past 30. But, as a man I know from an online forum says: life wins. She is obviously a woman of great grit. Having a child may not have been the wisest thing, but it is certainly is life affirming. I can greatly appreciate that hardheaded approach.
Small victories are to be celebrated, and I bet she and her daughter celebrate them every day.