Nickie Coby (puppybraille) wrote,
Nickie Coby

So… What's my Tapestry?

I just read an amazing article in my "The Reflective Woman" book. I'll admit, this class made me nervous at first because I was afraid it'd just be a bunch of women writing and talking about how men all suck because they're oppressing us and how we need to push ahead and do better at beating them or at least being equals. But this article-Weaving an Identity Tapestry-is not even close to that. It's written by Sonja D. Curry-Johnson who is a feminist, African American and Christian. She wrote a wonderful piece that talks about how sometimes our different parts of our identities seem to conflict. She talked about how she sometimes struggles with a faith that enslaved her ancestors, her desire to care for her children but not wanting to be pushed into it, her frustration with a faith that wants to put women in the backseat. I've shared similar frustrations.
I'm not African American, but I am blind. I've had to fight several internal battles and external battles relating to this. Everyday, I have to fight the battle to decide how to be most independent. I always used to think that independence was doing everything for my elf. But by the same token, some things are hard. Do I ask for help? If I do, I fear being ridiculed by some blind people. I fear being told that I'm a disgrace to other blind community members. But if I avoid asking for help, I can mess up even worse and be an even bigger disgrace. I have to daily fight that battle with myself.
I have to fight the battle of societal expectations. For the longest time, I hated even thinking about going into work in the blindness field because I knew people would think I could only do that since I can't see. It's probably similar to the experiences many blind musicians have. You know, the questions "What are you planning for your career?"
"I'd like to be a rehabilitation teacher."
"Oh, that's so nice. Yes, that's something you'll be good at." There are so many miss-conceptions, I always felt I had to fight the battle and do something different so that I could help tear those miss-conceptions down. But I really want to be a rehabilitation teacher or counselor. I want to at least help out in the blind community. Yes, my blindness has influenced my opinion, but not in the way people assume. I just know that I probably wouldn't have known about or cared about these issues if I was blind.
One of the areas I feel stretched is my faith. In a community of Christians, I can either be respected as a blind person or have people assume I'm wrong/an evil person/need to be healed. Many people automatically assume that if I had faith enough, God would heal me. I don't understand that very well. I believe God is choosing to let me be blind for a reason. As hard as it is to accept, He has a reason for my foot pain, too. I don't understand it. But I also have to be careful that I'm not so militant about this point that I won't accept prayers or allow for an opening should God choose to miraculously heal me. It's a fine line to walk and I'm not sure I walk it as well as I could.
An area where the author felt stretched by her faith was the area of feminism. It was actually mentioned in a previous article, too. How can we stay in a faith where women are oppressed. In some denominations, we're not allowed to be pastors. How can we reconcile that? What she concludes and I'd have to agree is that things will change. Someday, we'll go back to what God intended, and we won't be oppressed. But we can't just disown the faith until then. That's hard to put into words so it sounds right. But basically, it's like we're changing things from the inside. Again, a fine line to walk.
And finally, not being limited by feminism or the corrupted way it's become too militant. Feminism isn't always about burning bras or being unwilling to accept help from a man. But believing in ourselves is important, equality is important.
I guess what I'm taking away is that when we have things in us that can be considered weaknesses by others, we can't let them be weaknesses, we need to embrace them. If there are problems in how we're viewed, we can change things from the inside. That's what we're getting at. I'm going to try hard to embrace all of the pieces of my tapestry.
Tags: disability related, my writing, reading

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