Editor’s Column – October 2003

October is a time to get fired up for the next Legislative session.  State Rep.Torrey Westrom is a friend and […]

October is a time to get fired up for the next Legislative session.  State Rep.Torrey Westrom is a friend and a member of the disability community. He has been a positive force in the on-going legislative struggle to fund Metro Mobility and maintain high standards for Metro Mobility to follow. We have a profile of Rep. Westrom this month that will give you a glimpse of his history and how he got into Politics.

Along with Torrey, there are plenty of wonderful, hard working, dedicated, people working in our community these days and finally one is getting deserved recognition. She stands out a head above the rest. Anne Henry of the Minnesota Disability Law Center. Anne is the go to person for most any question. She is the first to arrive and the last to leave during a long night at the capital while the two legislative bodies are busy trying to workout the budget deficit. Anne is the one always encouraging us to keep pushing for our rights and what is fair. Anne Henry truly is a treasure to Minnesota Disability Community! No one deserves this high honor, of the induction in the Hall of Fame more than Anne Henry does. Congratulations, Anne! You are the best!

Access Press’ First Annual Charlie Smith Award is coming up, and we’d like to see all of our readers and supporters there. This is a chance for us to honor the memory of the man who founded the paper by awarding the individual, in his name, who has been thought to have the greatest positive influence in the disability community, as Charlie did.

Normal What does it really mean? We all have our own ideas of how it applies to us as individuals. It is a very subjective word.  We each make it fit our needs and we are very good at using it to suit our own prejudiced agendas.  I’m normal to me, so by default I can label everyone that’s not like me abnormal or different or strange. Also, when someone is different than what I know, it makes them threatening and when someone is threatening it’s hard for me to learn about them and the prejudices begin to grow, and so on, and so on. The cycle continues until we decide to stop the labeling and redefine our definition of normal; learn about our neighbor who has a different way of getting around the lake, a different way of saying hello, or even different skin tone.  In the disability world, where we try to be tolerant of each other, we have failed consistently at removing labels. But you see, labels are like viruses.  There’s no real cure for them.  They won’t just quietly fade away with a pill.  They’ll just embed themselves further into society, multiplying within our culture until every one of us is infected.  The only true vaccine is acceptance, from us all and of us all. 

Members of my staff and I attempted to tackle this concept this month and we came up with some really provocative ideas.  My marketing manager, Terri Ricci, in her attempt to find out what normal is, wound up discovering what it isn’t.  And my editorial assistant, Derek VanderVeen, took a look at himself and at when he first and finally realized that, despite a few abnormalities, he really is normal.  Read these two different takes on the concept, one disabled, one not. Then think about your own ideas and share them with us.

Happy Halloween!