My Travel Plans Include Down Syndrome

Today, I am in deep thought.   Monday I blogged about the recent GQ article – 40 Worst Dressed Cities in America.  The article stated “due to so much local in-breeding, Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome, where a little extra ends up ruining everything.”  I have read many of the articles, blogs, etc. associated with the GQ faux pas. I have seen comments to my Facebook page, to me personally, and to others who are reading saying the GQ article shocks them. While people are appreciative that GQ removed the insulting language, many are still outraged that GQ has not issued an apology. In response to GQ’s article, Dr. Brian Skotko, who has a sibling with Down syndrome, blogged Mock My Pants, Not My Sister.  I hope that the Down syndrome community understands what a champion we have in Dr. Brian Skotko!  I read that people thought this didn’t happen anymore.  “Maybe I’m immune,” they say, “because I work with those who are developmentally delayed.”   I guess the sad thing is that I am not the least bit shocked.  I am not shocked because I don’t work in the field. I live it because of my daughter Rachel who has Down syndrome. I’m not shocked because my husband comes home on a daily basis and tells me about a tweet that saw nothing wrong with making fun of the “retarded.” I’m not shocked because there is an article this week Down’s Syndrome Dwindling that reviews how in the not too distant future there will be no one born with Down syndrome in Denmark. I’m not shocked because I heard two college girls calling each other retarded in the grocery store the other day.  I’m not shocked because I have seen part of Sarah Silverman’s act. I’m not shocked becasue I saw Etsy allow a vendor to sell cards that were unbelievably cruel to those with Down syndrome.  It took several days to shut down the vendor who paraded under a “freedom of speech” mantra.   I’m not shocked because pretty much every week, I see or hear some of these stories aimed at ridiculing and alleviating the world of those with Down syndrome or other intellectual disabilities.   I’m not shocked because with all the good that comes with cyberspace, it has made it far easier for us to be aware of all of this “stuff”.

Then, my deep thoughts ponder this:  If I didn’t have Rachel, would I be any different than these people?  Truly, the answer is t I don’t know. I never really used the R-word. My deep held beliefs preclude me from using racial slurs and this would be the same as a racial slur to me.  But more than the use of the words, how would I treat people with intellectual disabilities if I didn’t have Rachel?  Honestly, I knew little about people with intellectual disabilities before Rachel. However, isn’t that part of the point?  God gives us all different travel plans for the journey. Part of those travel plans for any of us surely includes making a difference in the world.  For now, my travel plans include advocating for those with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. My travel plans are to be educated and to educate others on the many dilemmas facing those with intellectual disabilities. My travel plans include working to help Rachel be able to lead a fulfilling life, and that the work toward that goal will help a ton of other people along the way. My travel itinerary says I need to work to help groups who are working to create an inclusive community accomplish those goals. My ultimate travel plans include working with whoever, wherever, whenever to see that those with intellectual disabilities are valued and respected.  When the package of Rachel arrived, those became my travel plans. I hope some of your travel plans cross our route along the journey.

 

 

 

 

rileyfarm responded:
Jawanda,

I believe this is the best blogg every! Thank you so much for doing this. You might just be changing the world one blogg at a time.

Love ya,

Judy
—- sassysoutherngal’s posterous <post> wrote: >

Jawanda Mast responded:
Jawanda Mast
Judy, thank you for reading. I just kind of shot this one off while I was reading some of the posts about Down syndrome. So many hearts to be changed.
Lindsay Trigg responded:
Thank you for sharing! I would like to share my website with you and hope it brightens yor day to know that there are people on your side. All people have varying abilities, when we start seeing people for what they ARE and what they ARE NOT, that will be a fine day. Please visit www.dreamprogram.net
Jawanda Mast responded:
Jawanda Mast
I was not familiar with the Dream Program so thanks for sharing and your good work. Also – thanks for reading!
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