In 2015, in the United States, we live in a society that still finds inter-racial anything a cause for alarm. Phew, there I said it. If it’s not interracial stigma, then it’s class stigma. As a person, I have lived with Cerebral Palsy since 1986. That means I’ve been a walking, moving miracle for thirty-one years. In this time, I have had to endure many moments of shame. Shame is humiliation caused by wrong or foolish behavior. I’ve had to fight to be counted as a smart person. I narrowly escaped being thrown into school courses with people that had mental disabilities. I have nothing against people with special needs. However, I did not have severe mental issues. I had to fight to be a collegiate. Today, it’s only the grace of God that allows me say with gratefulness that I am a disabled man with an education. Currently, I am working to defy odds once more by trying to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree. Some people believe that just because a person is physically limited, future goals should suffer the same limitation. Yes, some people think that having Cerebral Palsy is enough of a reason to be denied a truly independent life.
With all of the positive legislation that has gone forward to help people with disabilities have a fighting chance, there are still people who hold some asinine views. Some people believe that people with disabilities and mental illnesses cannot also be intelligent. In my experience, it seems that the moment someone acknowledges that a person has a disability, in that same moment some in our society are ready to cry foul. These men and women do so because they have been acculturated to believe that disability and intelligence are so damning and shameful that they must be fought against. If someone saw me walking and moving about like I do, some would forget that I am disabled. My own friends often have to remind themselves of it. That’s because when they share time with me, it is often the last thing on their minds. I have endured the shame of children pointing and staring. I have endured people talking about how weird I look behind my back even as they have greeted me to my face. I have observed parents who would not correct their children because they were too afraid to talk about someone who is obviously different.
I’ve had friends in school see me struggling to move and stick their foot on and trip me. When I see men and women blessed with physically normal joints being lazy, I mourn a little bit. The funny thing thing is: Some of those people that are physically unlimited look at me with some degree of shame because I’m happy to be alive. This is rather confusing to me.
In the bible, Jesus had to endure the price of the cross to secure eternal life for the generations of people that would need his help and support. The bible says in Hebrews 12:2,
“Jesus, being the beginning and end of the [Christian] faith endured the Cross and despised the shame … (that means when people were shaming him, he pushed forward anyway. He saw that shame as “worthless”
He was aware of his position and who he was and he endured persecution unto death so that generations of people might have mercy and be saved.
I can endure the shame of being ridiculed because two of my closest friends are white men. I can thank God that I don’t look down on my friends because they are white. I can celebrate having diverse connections. I know I look black, but do not be mislead. I am just as mixed as Mariah Carey. I don’t have very many close friends that are black. That admission does not mean that I am ashamed of being black or ashamed of the black men and women who look like me. I can say I’m not ashamed of black history, or anything that preserves the heritage and culture of the African-American experience.
Race and Ethnicity does not determine the people who we connect and share with. To pass judgment on a man because his close friends don’t look like him, is not only prejudiced it does not reflect the love of Christ.
We are all one family in God.
God uses people from different cultures and backgrounds to teach us about our biases. People who are different from us are also catalysts for opening a dialogue about the issues that make us uncomfortable. If the tenets of Christianity are love, forgiveness, and hope among other things.
In challenging our biases, we must receive the broken.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 says: Warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, and be patient with all men [and women]
When we receive the broken, we follow the law of Jesus Christ.