Who We Are

Posted July 23rd, 2008 by Anthony

One of the pleasant surprises using my Tivo is the programs it records on its own using my favorites. Last night I noticed that I could watch Tavis Smiley‘s interview of the governor of New York from Monday, July 21, 2008. The governor, David Paterson, is the first African American governor for that state and only the
second African American governor in the country. He’s also low vision. I hadn’t seen Paterson except in pictures. Seeing him on television it’s clear he’s one of us.

The most interesting question Smiley posed to Paterson was about the use of the ubiquitous politicians’ tool, the TelePrompTerâ„¢. The governor admitted that he wasn’t able to read his scripts off the machine so he had to rely on “preparation, preparation, preparation.”
Which sounds to me like how people with disabilities often get ahead in the world. He then added that he had to be “astonishingly creative” when he lost the thread and had to distract his audience. That’s the
phrase that struck home.

One of the traits we people with disabilities share is our practice at being “astonishingly creative.” If we’re not creative as we go into the world we find the world doesn’t fit us too well. With creativity we can
almost always find a way—whether the jury-rigged belt tied to the front door so we can close it behind us as we exit in our wheelchairs, or the humorous retort to deflect and mitigate someone’s stark terror at
having to actually talk to one of us. It’s all about taking charge and making the world fit us.


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