Saturday, June 19, 2010

Apparently it's some sort of Helen Keller day, which Renee won't celebrate because it's also Juneteenth. Now being the sort of black person who only really knows about Juneteenth because every year the news reports "And in other news, African Americans enjoy Juneteenth", I am not too worried about them sharing the date, although it would have been nice if they said 'oh and it's Juneteenth too"

The real reason I bring this up is because I read a book, and want to talk about it. You can tell my blog is about my narrow interests,eh? I read The Imprisoned Guest, and thought it was a very well described history of disability through the prism of the education of Laura Bridgeman- apparently the first deaf-blind girl to be educated in America.

I really liked how the author described how Bridgeman had been as famous of Helen Keller in her day, but as she grew older, and was no longer the cute little girl prodigy, but a mature woman who it was harder to project one's own visions of purity and gentleness while suffering on, she became forgotten both by the public and her former benefactors.

The prevalent culture had an image of the pure suffering angel girl, but there wasn't a place for a disabled woman.

Also discussed is how the super crip model affected both of them. Laura had an insistent temper, and her own way of doing things. The author notes that passing as 'normal' had never occurred to her. Helen on the other hand did have the abilities to attempt to 'pass' as she had the energy to doggedly work at passing and the means to get very skilled tutors. I liked how the author notes that Helen Keller is a tough act to follow.

Many of us disabled can't be 'super crips'. Some time ago, I found an article on partial disabilities, but I don't have it now. Anyway, my point in mentioning this is that those of us with strong fatigue, or neurological issues may not be able to 'pass' at all, and this of course doesn't even start to talk about people with blindness or deafness or both. One of the reasons Howe[Laura's main benefactor] wanted to educated Laura was that educating a merely blind girl wasn't considered impressive enough.

I'm glad to know that Helen Keller was a socialist anarchist hero, but on the other hand, many folks right now need scooters just to go into the Borders, or we may be OK today to work but have to take precious days off because of our illnesses, and people don't understand.

No comments: