Speak Your Truth

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I had found out about the children’s book Rescue and Jessica online and immediately checked to see if I could find it in my local library. The book was written by a couple, Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes  who had to have amputations as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. (The illustrations were done by Scott Magoon who also ran the marathon.) I was pleasantly surprised that the book was part of the library’s collection and I put it on hold. A few days later I went to check it out.

When I got there I noticed that a car with people sitting in it and the motor idling was in a disability parking space, but something didn’t feel right. My body tensed as I thought about asking the passengers if they had a handicapped placard. I took a few steps towards the library and then decided to approach the vehicle.

The driver rolled down her window part way and asked me what I wanted. I said that I worked for an organization that works with people with disability and was wondering if she had a placard. She said, “Sir, please leave us alone.” I asked again and getting no response, I turned away. I saw a guard heading towards the library front door and asked him to please question the car driver. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about this.

I went inside and spoke with a librarian. She indicated that there was someone inside the library with a walker but that they were looking for a ride so she didn’t think that the car was connected with this person.

I pulled the book off the hold shelf and checked it out. I noticed that the guard had come inside and that he was now talking to some other librarians. I started to tell these librarians the story and the library manager who was part of the conversation introduced herself. She told me that the car was gone.

The next morning I heard a report on NPR about Milck and her song “Quiet” which was first performed at the Women’s March on the Mall in DC in 2017. The refrain states, “I can’t keep quiet.” A powerful testament to standing up against abuse.

When we see injustice, no matter how small, if we don’t speak out we end up giving our “tacit consent.” This doesn’t mean being belligerent when approaching someone, but it means not being scared of confrontation or other discomfort that may come from speaking up.

Although at this moment I don’t have a physical disability, through the work that I’ve been involved with for the last ten years, I’ve become much more sensitized to the issue.

What do we lose if we don’t speak up about the things that matter to us, the things that we care about most? A lot, as we miss an opportunity to speak our truth in the world.

 

Position: Director-EveryBODYPlaysNC

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