As you may have noticed, there was no new post on the blog last week – I took an impromptu trip to Maryland to attend a Black History Month White House event!
Last week was incredible, in more ways than I can accurately express in words. I still have to pinch myself because I cannot believe that it happened, and that I was at the White House surrounded by so many Black and proud advocates and allies.
Like all amazing stories, let’s start at the beginning…
On Thursday, September 17th, I will be celebrating my 30th birthday. When I wondered about this birthday milestone in my earlier 20s, I thought that I would be depressed and saddened to see it arrive and to have my 20s behind me. The feeling that I have leading up to Thursday is elation – I cannot wait to be a 30-something disabled woman. I wanted to share my joy on the RYV! blog because turning “Dirty 30” means more than most would understand.
Last month, I decided to create a hashtag for disabled women of color that would allow us to connect with each other, and build our sisterhood and empower one another. I wanted to share the hashtag officially on the RYV! blog so that my readers whom fall under the hashtag’s purpose would know about it, and hopefully start using it on social media.
Part 2 of the special series about the voices of ADA Generation will cover my story, and what it was like growing up under the new mandate as a disabled Black child who started Kindergarten in 1991. (If you missed Part 1, read here.)
It was 25 years ago today that one of the most influential, life-changing disability policies was signed into law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For those who were born during the 80s and 90s, disabled Millennials also known as ADA Generation, it is hard to phantom living in a world without this mandate that guarantees our rights to equal access to education, healthcare, transportation; as well as necessary accommodations and accessibility in utilizing services and resources in our communities.
Last week, I had the incredible opportunity of presenting a workshop on the sexuality and womanhood of disabled females at the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s 2015 Summer Institute. This was a first on many levels: my first time attending the Summer Institute, and my first time presenting on the topic about disabled teen girls and young women. I was undeniably nervous and eager to fulfill these new experiences, and I had hoped that both would be worthwhile.
Presentation summary for Summer Institute. (Click image to enlarge for better view.)
Antionette is a dear friend of mine from college; we met when I took Model UN my last semester in undergrad, and she was one of the “higher ups” within Winthrop’s Model UN. She and I were mutual friends with one of my Sorority sisters, and we forged a quick friendship of our own. Antionette affectionately refers to me as “Mama V” since I’m a couple of years older than her, and our friendship has grown beyond our Model UN years.
Antionette graduated from Winthrop with her B.A. in Political Science in 2010, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in International Business. She is 27 years old, lives in Charleston, SC, and works for the Department of State. Antionette is the typical Millennial, in that she has many hobbies and interests that keeps her busy – she is a Mary Kay consultant, a martial artist (she has a Black belt in Karate and plans to her further her martial arts training), and likes to listen to as well as create music with her brother. As you can see, she is definitely a go-getter, and is one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet on this side of the Mississippi River.
Earlier this year, I learned that Antionette has been quietly fighting a battle of her own, one she decided to share on the one year anniversary of her diagnosis. Antionette has MS, or Multiple Sclerosis; when I read the testimony about her journey, I was truly amazed. I had been in light contact with Antionette over the past year, and I did not have a clue that anything was amiss with her or her health. Antionette shared that she had remained quiet about her journey as she was trying to understand this new normal in her life. I asked Antionette if I could interview her for the blog, and she graciously gave me the honor to share her story with my readers and supporters.
As a proud disabled South Carolinian, I could not contain my excitement when I heard about Zarreia Williams’ 1-on-1 game with Dawn Staley, Head Coach of University of South Carolina’s Women’s Basketball program. To see a disabled Black girl play a game of basketball against one of her idols had to be featured on the blog.
This week marks exactly 4 months until we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The impact of the ADA on the lives of disabled Americans is undeniable, especially for those who are members of my generation, the Millennials. Disabled Millennials, dubbed the ADA Generation, came into age under the enactment of the legislation. The legal requirements under the ADA influenced access to public education, healthcare, transportation, public venues, and technology inclusion of young disabled children born during that time period. The ADA was one of the first mandates to impact our lives beyond educational opportunities, and it would be remiss to not share how we benefited from its existence.
Late February, I was approached by the wonderful people within the Easter Seals Thrive Program to write an article for their advocacy campaign for disabled women during the month of March. Being that I have developed a great connection with the “Letters to Thrive” platform via Tumblr, I jumped at the opportunity to be a guest writer for their campaign.
Important Disability-Related Videos You Should Watch
Here's the Out of Step's TOOST Radio interview I participated in as a panelist on Nov. 6th, 2013. During the interview, I discussed my personal & professional viewpoints about the choice of discussing disability status while seeking employment opportunities. The part that I'm featured begins 15:29 minutes into the interview.
In this video, Beyoncé helps Kid President with World Humanitarian Day 2013. The Kid President has OI like I do. I think that his messages are ones that all walks of life & ages can learn from. I'm so jealous that he met one of my idols & favorite music performers, Beyoncé! I wanted to share with you all the interview the Kid President did with Beyoncé for World Humanitarian Day, which was August 19th, 2013.