[nfbwatlk] Re History Kicks

Elizabeth Rene via nfbwatlk nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
Sun May 25 16:39:35 UTC 2014

Dear friends,
Thank you all for your kind responses to my last post.
Please know that no one person's remarks set me off. Nobody needs to apologize to me for anything.
My reflections were a reaction to my own experience of the conflict throughout the 80s and early 90s before I left Washington for seminary.
The point of my essay was that my experience was part of the collateral damage. I was facing discrimination from powerful adversaries for which there was no true legal redress, and I felt that the army that should have fought beside me was fighting itself.
I began to follow the national Nfb's activities over the Internet when I became Internet literate at the turn of the century. I became more and more impressed, but did not join a chapter because I was moving too often and didn't live in any one state very long.
I did ultimately join the Nfb of Texas, Austin chapter, while attending  the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest. I stayed on their mailing list long after leaving Texas, and witnessed some of their own internal struggles, including the removal of a board member. Oh so painfully, both board members removed – the one in Texas and the one in Washington – were people passionately dedicated to advancing the cause of blind people.
I can't help observing the movements of other minority groups – it's been a lifelong pastime and passionate interest. In fact, my studies have taught me that there is a path that most groups follow on their way to ascendancy. So I know that internal struggle is not unique to the Nfb, or to the organized blind movement generally.
I know that there were many divisions among black civil rights groups in the 60s, that different racial minorities have conflict with one another, and that different minority groups struggle within themselves over issues related to gender and sexual orientation. Not to mention disability! So why should we be better than that or different?
I think partly because there are so few of us. We stand out individually among our cited peers in spite of any inclination to blend in. Among ourselves, if we join a group, or if we abstain, everyone else knows about it, eventually. Individual persons and personalities stand out within the movement. Individual reputations can be made or destroyed, individual spirits can be raised and individual hearts can be broken. We often don't have our families behind us, and the churches are not the bedrock of our movement, though they may be the ground of our separate faiths. No matter what we do singly or collectively, no matter how we succeed or how we fail, we are seen, and seen through the lenses of those whose attitudes we want to change. (Isn't it funny that those of us who don't, or who can barely see at all, simply can't be invisible?)
So we need to be gentle and kind to one another, to manage our differences like spouses who want to stay married and keep their love alive. Because we may be more like family than community. Because we have a generation to nurture. And because we have a name to uphold and clothe with honor. And lastly, because there are people who need us.
Let's be strong for ourselves and for one another, and for them.

Thank you all again.


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