Recently, the New York Times posted an article by blogger Melissa Blake, who has a genetic bone and muscular disorder. In the article, “Disabled, Shunned and Silenced in Trump’s America,” she expresses her concern that President Trump is setting a tone about disability that will further marginalize people, many of whom feel pushed to the edges of society already.
Like so many people who have disabilities, Blake writes that people often sell her short. Although she graduated from college with honors and has worked as a blogger and freelance writer for nearly a decade, she says that she has spent her life "feeling overlooked, excluded and underestimated. I’ve had people make assumptions about my abilities just by looking at me. I’ve had people talk over me — or, worse, assuming I can’t communicate and directing questions about me to the people around me as if I wasn’t even there.”
She is concerned that this marginalization will grow worse under the new president’s leadership. Within hours after his inauguration, the section on disability at whitehouse.gov posted by the Obama administration was removed. Trump has been “dismissive and rude toward us. We are all familiar with his mocking of the physical appearance of the Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, as we are with his denial of the real meaning of the incident, and his refusal to apologize. On matters related to us, we’ve heard nothing since.”
She fears that Trump’s rhetoric may set a tone for the rest of society to follow, which could have devastating consequences for this 20 percent of the U.S. population. “I think about young people with disabilities. Has Trump given any thought to them? What about the teenager with a disability who’s getting bullied every day at school? What about the kid who has spent more time in the hospital than on the playground? What about the young woman struggling with self-esteem issues, desperately trying to come to terms with her disability?”
She ends her essay with a challenge to our president to “sit down with members of the disability community and listen — really listen — to their stories and their concerns and their recommendations for the future.” She concludes, “I will never not be a person. I’m taking back my power and I want President Trump to know it.”
I’ve highlighted this article by Blake because I’m concerned too that the tone of our president’s communication focuses on strength, beauty, wealth, and power. It seems that he is eager to leave behind anyone who does not have these four characteristics, yet Scripture takes exactly the opposite approach toward people. In her vision of the world made right by the coming of the Messiah, Mary sings,
He has pulled down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty. (Luke 1:52,53 MEV)
What do you think? Are these concerns overblown? Do we need to wait and see? Or do you fear that the new administration is setting a dangerous direction?