To the Editor,
Having lived in the valley most of my life, I can attest to the fact that our marked lack of diversity is detrimental not just to minorities of color, but to those with any marked differences, including those with disabilities.
Assuming Mr. Marcus Hernandez would be a specialist on a burrito’s authenticity or would naturally have a lower academic score because he’s “brown,” is equivalent to assuming that, because I am blind, I must be a phenomenal musician who can immediately pick up and play any instrument, but can’t possibly travel alone or cook my own meals. I have become used to such assumptions, but that does not mean I don’t find them annoying and offensive.
We moved into a small home in a nearby rural town when I was 15, and people immediately started calling the police. After multiple worrisome calls from nearby residents, the police showed up at my parents’ door to question the wisdom of allowing me to travel the streets alone and unassisted. The addition of a “BLIND PERSON IN THE AREA” sign did little to relieve the public of their assumptions and ignorance regarding my ability to travel without getting myself killed. Since that time, I have gone to college, traveled to Third World countries, lived in the state’s largest city, and, like most grown kids, left my parents’ nest to live on my own. When I moved to Lewisburg, I naively expected that living in a supposedly cosmopolitan and progressive town with a liberal arts institution like Bucknell would somewhat lessen the frequency of such incidents. I was wrong.
To this day, I still encounter the same offense taken when I refuse help I do not need and for which I did not ask. I daily get strangers grabbing at me, yelling at me and trying to literally drag me to places they assume I need or intend to go. People regularly get offended when I rebuff their unrequested, unwanted, and unneeded laying on of hands and their impromptu faith healing sessions. Aside from the fact that grabbing strangers is illegal assault, it is unnecessary and dangerous.
And why is it my job to educate you on all the things you are unwilling to learn of your own accord? Why not take some initiative yourselves and start asking questions and learning that we are people too; people who have our own feelings and desires and issues. We are no different from you, no more superior or inferior, no better or worse. So if there’s something you don’t know, please don’t make assumptions that do nothing more than perpetuate stereotypes. Rather, please just ask your question and listen to our answer. It really is that simple.
– Christian Cochran