We had a guest speaker for our last class today. His name was Patrick and he got his Associates Degree in Mental Health Assistance, his Bachelors in Social Work and his Masters in Social Work. He has such a great sense of humor and is really great to talk with. I really enjoyed his talk and exercises he did with us.
Patrick was born with Cerebral Palsy. It affects his speech and muscle control, from what I could tell-we didn’t talk about him so I can’t know for sure. He talked about how people assume people with disabilities can only do so much. We are too quick to assume that someone with a disability is limited. He talked about how people would always tell him he wouldn’t graduate high school. He proved them wrong, he can (and probably would) show you his degrees to prove it. He told a story about how he wanted to buy a new car for himself and the sales person asked if he had a job. Patrick’s response was, “since when do you need a job to buy a car?” He went to another dealer and drove by the first one in his brand new green Jeep. That first dealer missed out on $24,000.
There’s a girl in this class, Jamie, who is legally blind. She said when she goes to restaurants the server doesn’t even ask her what she wants, he or she asks the other people she’s with. Jamie also mentioned that with certain technologies today she can do everything a person with full sight can do. She has a Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, etc. She said the first question she gets from everyone is, “how can you do all that if you can’t see?” Everyone has the idea in their head that disability = limited. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t do “normal” things like “the rest of us.”
Patrick is amazing and I feel so lucky to have met him, even if it was just for this once. Like I said, he’s hilarious and fun to talk to. He said two things that I have been saying for a few years now. The first was, “Don’t assume, don’t make and ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” The second was, “You have a right to make judgements, it’s ok, you have no control over how you make judgements. As long as you don’t act on them.”
I think it’s so important to point that out. It is almost impossible not to judge people when first meeting or seeing them. It doesn’t make you a bad person, what does is when you let your first assumption turn into an action. Think about other possibilities, don’t assume you know something about someone unless that person tells you him/herself.
Have an open mind.
Thank you Patrick, for coming into my last Social Inequality class and making it fun and informative.