Sunday, December 14, 2008

A good essay by Bill Bradford

In my experience within the community of people of short stature, I've observed that some individuals internalize societal prejudice against communities that are physically different compared to the mainstream community. For example, a few years ago, on the dwarfism yahoo bulletin board, a woman posted about her struggle to find a job. In the posts, the woman described what happened at a number of interviews. Based upon the description, to me, it seemed there was a good chance that the woman was discriminated against because of her height. Others on the list serve disagreed, for one reason or another(from grammar mistakes in the woman's original email to poor interviewing skills) placing responsibility with the woman for failing to land a job.

Because many people of short stature spend a good part of our lives isolated from other people of short stature, we are raised to adapt to the challenges and obstacles of the world around us, rather than organize with others who share a common struggle to make the world around us more accommodating. While these skills are useful, they indirectly encourage us to shoulder the responsibility when things don't go our way, even if in some cases the responsibility lies with an intolerant or inaccessible community in which we live, not with us. On an individual basis, these skills may allow us to get by, but they don't empower us to thrive, or to make positive systemic changes to the community.

With these thoughts in mind, I was happy to read a recent essay by Bill Bradford, Little People of America's Vice President. The essay, Column: Reaction to dwarfism shows that low glass ceiling still affecting us, made the case that societal barriers to acceptance and barriers to success for the community of people of short stature are very real, pointing to unemployment rates, salaries based upon height, and the lack of positive role models in the public and political spotlight.

I think it's important for leaders within LPA to make such public statements, statements that challenge people of short stature to make positive reforms to a society that sometimes is biased toward difference, rather than encourage people of short stature to try to change who they are.

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