Notes About America
When my parents arrived with me in 1979 I was two and I had come here to be diagnosed with a lifelong disability. We arrived from Iran which at the time was in conflict with my new home, America. At the same time, there was a movement that disabled people were partaking in that would impact my life greatly. This movement gave me the chance to attend school through college and it still gives me the opportunity to live an easier life. When I go out to a restaurant, I don’t have to worry about handicap accessible anything. When I go to the mall, I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can get around. When I check into a hotel, most of the time I know that I will get a hotel room that will be conducive to my disability. My life is easier now than it would have been without the movement.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s the United States made a conscious decision to include persons with disabilities like myself into society. Is it perfect? No. But, it’s amazing. Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if my true home country had not made those decisions. It does not hurt that my parents often tell me that I could not do anything if we had stayed in Iran.
Right now, we are having to deal with the consequences of our past choices. Some of these choices have to do with the way we treat minorities in this country. Some of the choices have to deal with the law enforcement environment. Some have to do with the opportunity that many people have or don’t have. Some have to do with the way politicians get ahead.
If we want to move forward as a country and make the choice that will benefit society as a whole, we have to make brave and challenging choices. The issue is that there is not one factor that contributes to any issue. The protests of the last couple of weeks were triggered by the events surrounding the senseless treatment of George Floyd. However, there are many tough challenges that we as a society must deal with as a whole.
Pointing to one or two issues is not enough. We have to look at all the issues that can be improved. Although police culture needs to be overhauled, there are many more issues that are not given attention. For example, many officers deal with personal issues such as substance abuse and anger management. These issues can contribute to police brutality.
I wonder what my life would be like if these United States did not make the brave choices surrounding disability issues. I wonder what we could do if we all made smarter, sensitive, and more nuanced choices.