Arrived in Nashville Tennessee late this morning for the start of the 53rd Annual National Little People of America Conference. Though last year's Brooklyn Conference was thrilling, and game changing to same extent for LPA, I hope we avoid any controversy this year. Controversy came when the Associated Press ran a headline claiming LPA wants to "ban" the word midget. The organization did officially recognize the word as derogatory and issued a statement. The idea was to raise awareness around the word in order to convince the public to stop using the word. Once word of the ban reached outlets outside of the Associated Press, a backlash started. Many groups and organizations criticized LPA as just another "pc" group infringing on the country's First Amendment Rights.
In hindsight, perhaps the rumor of a ban helped. Coverage of the issue spread faster and wider than it otherwise would have. And in the end, when the supposed controversy settled, the public was left with more information about why the word midget is so harmful. My guess is that fewer people are using the word today than used it a year ago. Whatever the outcome, the 2009 conference was very challenging and exhausting because of the controversy. This year, unless the Half-Pint Brawlers make an unexpected appearance, I am not expecting any controversy.
I hope to avoid controversy, but I do hope LPA can position itself at this year's conference to make some important progress in 2010 and 2011. Specifically, I hope we can solidify our advocacy committee. We've built a membership over the past year and a half, but we need to find a common ground to unite the committee and energize it to work together. Also, I hope the organization starts to position itself more in the context of the larger, national disability community. Many talented people are members of the organization and could contribute their expertise to the national disability agenda. It's a matter of getting those people involved in disability coalitions and building LPA's voice in the process.
Speaking of voice, an organization that represents people with primordial dwarfism issued a statement recently against a British Politician who called a colleague a "sanctimonious dwarf." My favorite part of the this story is the final statement, made the man accused of being a "sanctimonious dwarf." Click here for the piece.