Narrative-Based Research for Social Change
Edited By Ahmet Atay and Mary Z. Ashlock
Chapter Five: Walk in Our Shoes: Bridging the Cultural Abyss
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Walk IN Our Shoes
Bridging the Cultural Abyss
The title of this chapter came from an old Native American proverb: “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” As a disabled student (I am legally blind) I have experienced many of society’s norms over the years (i.e., blind people cannot function in society, they should be taken care of; or “poor blind person”; and even “shhhh don’t talk/ask him anything”). In many cases, I felt I was draped in Harry Potter’s invisible cloak, surrounded by a crowd but not seen. As I walked with my cane one day I heard a little girl exclaim, “Daddy, Daddy, is that man metal detectin?” Before I could explain I use the cane to see, her dad whisked her off, shushing her, telling her it was not polite to say those things. From a person with a disability’s point of view, most of the members of the disabled community would prefer people to ask. It gives us an opportunity to explain how we function in an abled world. I have had wonderful teaching moments in the checkout line at a store when the parents are trapped and cannot run away and their inquisitive children ask about my cane. I love the chance to explain my disability and when I have time I try to talk about others as well. This project, “Walk...
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