Friday, February 24, 2017

"...although it would be delightful, it is not possible for the culture to make up for the society." - Fran Lebowitz

I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher, tonight and almost turned it off because Seth McFarlane was going to be on.  Though, I agree with him often politically, the seemingly bottomless well of ignorance and hate he spews towards the intellectually disabled is hard to ignore.  As my worldview has been colored by Down syndrome for 18 years, it’s hard to get past.

Long story short, I stayed for Fran Lebowitz.

The quote that is the title of this little diatribe is one that she spoke in response to a question about the Oscars being “too white”.  She didn’t say much during the show, but that quote, "...although it would be delightful, it is not possible for the culture to make up for the society.", was a gem.

And I agree.  

It would be nice if having more black Oscar winners meant racial tolerance, but it doesn’t, in the same way that having a kid with Down syndrome crowned prom king does nothing in the grand scheme of things for kids with i/d that are more often than not, excluded.

I can see people who think Betsy DeVos is going to be a dandy Secretary of Education screaming “Well, what more do you want?!?!???  I mean, HE. WAS. PROM. KING.  Forget that there are hundreds of hours in the school year where he is separated from the “typical” population.  Forget that he is in danger of losing even the shitty supports that are in place at the moment.  Forget that people fear the unknown, and in too many schools, kids with Down syndrome are not known as friends and peers, still, today.

I have some very lovely snapshots of my son and a couple of “typical” kids.  If I posted those pictures without comment, you would think that these are his close friends.  They are not.

He spends hours texting and calling and leaving barely intelligible messages on their voicemails, and rarely, very rarely does he ever get a call or text back.  About once a month, one of these boys comes over for a half and hour or an hour at most.  He NEVER gets invited to their house.  It is heartbreaking to have your kid tell you about a party that he wasn’t invited to, or who is sleeping over whose house.  He wants it so badly to be him.  He wants SO BADLY to be one of the guys.  

I’m not bashing the kids.  They are good kids.  They are nice to my kid and have fun with him when they are here.  I honestly think they don’t mean to exclude him.  They just don’t think to INCLUDE him.  They don’t see him as an equal, and that is the most heartbreaking part.

I don’t expect the world to be color or gender or orientation or disability blind.  Not seeing differences is impossible and dishonest.  Not seeing those who are different than you as peers, is a tragedy.  Before we can have equality, we must see each other for the equals we are.

I am pulling for La La Land, but have not seen Hidden Figures, yet.  I guess I need to get on that this weekend.

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