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Tag Archives: cnn

The term handicap has become a thorn in the side of the English language.  It is one of the words most associated with the argument of political correctness. So what is a handicap?

I read on CNN’s Young People Who Rock about a young fellow, Sean Forbes, who performs music videos with American Sign Language for the Deaf Community. He is an inspiration to the Deaf Community and he brings to them a piece of the world most people never expected they could have. Below the passage there are a number of comments flaming the mention of deafness as a disability [handicap]. In my mind a handicap is something that significantly alters the way a person experiences society. The Deaf Community is indeed a culture. ASL is the third most used language in the United States. But it is impossible to say that when outside of the Deaf Community communicating can be a struggle. I have taken a course in ASL, but having not actually sought out situations to use it, I have only used it once in the four years since I first started. People who have speaking difficulties are often considered to have disabilities or handicaps, but it merely a communication barrier. Perhaps that is why deafness is not considered a handicap because it is a communication barrier similar to the growing English-Spanish barrier. But then speaking difficulties should not be disabilities.

It is impossible to toss around the word handicap or disability without making someone angry. It is almost as if the terms themselves make people lesser than others. They are social categorizations similar to race. Ultimately, I must agree that deafness is not a handicap, but such a term can only be defined in the eye of the beholder. If I went to Russia could not someone say I am handicapped?

In the past few years, people have been becoming much more concerned with the enivronment. Even some who are outside of environmentalist groups have begun throwing punches at global warming. Way back in 1971, Dr. Seuss published his children’s book, The Lorax. Apparently, few readers listened to the lesson found in this Dr. Seuss title. Throughout the next three decades, environmental decay had not slowed.

New information from the CDC says ‘blacks’ and ‘gays’ are more likely to be newly infected with HIV. At least this is how it is worded by a CNN article. However, HIV is mostly a lifestyle infection, and so they are only more likely to partake in a risky lifestyle than to actually be infected. A young ‘black,’ ‘gay’ male who does not partake in risky behavior would have the same chances of being infected as any ‘straight,’ ‘white’ male. They are trying to attribute HIV to a group of people rather than to a lifestyle of which those people do not have to be involved. This is futher evidenced by claims such as “AIDS in America continues to be a black disease.” Doing so is a hindrance to society, and to the ‘black’ and ‘gay’ community. If HIV is attributed to lifestyle, maybe they would come to see the unnecessary risks rather than accept the risks. If HIV were to be attributed to lifestyle maybe society as a whole would come to better accept the ‘gay’ community and the ‘black’ community (Citation: CNN).

July 23 and 24 CNN will be showing its special about “black america.” I am tempted to watch, and may very well do so, but I get the feeling I would be disappointed by the way went about displaying a group of people. The main question I have is if they are going to focus on the negative or the positive. For example, it is true that young¬†black men are often undevoted to their families, but when I volunteered in a hospital pediatric emergency room, I remember seeing numerous black fathers who were completely dedicated to their children. Another concern I have about the show is that it appears to lump all black people together. Amongst the black community there is immense diversity and individualism as amongst any culture. The timing of the show is very good with the recent uprising of racism, but will the show be powerful enough to make people think? Will the show be from a viewpoint that does not destroy established community, but brings multiple communities of people together? Maybe my expectations are too large or maybe I have a misconception of what the show is actually about, but with the publicity they are giving the special…I hope that it is truly deserving of the spotlight.