Monday, May 25, 2009

The Physically challenged Struggle When The Cameras And Spotlights Are Off

Somewhere in my early blogging days, I went to Wells Fargo Bank on Spring St. Turning the corner from 4th Street onto Spring St. I came upon a huge protest by home care workers in front of the Reagan State Building. The demonstration was a vocal outcry against the feared budget cuts by Governor Schwarzenegger which would most likely cost them their jobs.

That was quite some time ago.

On Friday, May 22, I went to the same bank and came across another demonstration by the same workers for the same reason, to prevent the loss of jobs. The voting results on Tuesday motivated the unions to present a strong voice to the governor. Placards were everywhere: "Don't Risk Lives" was a prominent one held by protesters. The message was clear: If jobs are cut, people who need supportive services will be at risk.

Union Officials scuttled around to find those who were the most physically challenged to interview with the mainstream media, using the visual images of the physically challenged as a powerful weapon to grab the emotions of the viewers.

I watched all of this with a different eye from the previous demonstration. At that time, I had only lived on Skid Row for six months and was sequestered from most of the community until I started blogging. Skid Row had not had a chance to work its magic on me--to truly understand the plight of people who struggle every day.

This time I possessed the eye of a man who has experienced Skid Row in various capacities for over two years. I have seen many people who are wheelchair bound. I have lived with them and talked with them, and have grown to appreciate the various challenges they face every day and the courage it takes to face each and every one of those days. I no longer live on Skid Row but I still work there. However the lessons I learned from the people who need supportive services help me every day as I assist in taking care of my mother, a dementia victim.

One can not live on Skid Row and not be affected by the environment. It changes you. if you possess your total faculties and are physically able you begin to appreciate how fortunate you really are. You see people struggle so hard to make it from one block to the next, going to the store or to an office to handle their business. Day after day the fight to survive.

These people need allies more than once or twice a year when the TV channels hustle to get wheelchair bound people to compete against other channels who are doing the same. The union workers should launch a never ending campaign to assist those who are needy instead of only when they need them to bolster an argument to save their own jobs.

Every where I travel in this city, I see physically and mentally challenged people. They are forgotten by the masses and isolated to fight their own battles until the spotlights need them again.

Cindy, a spinal chord injury victim, is the woman in the picture. She speaks on the video about her concerns. Cindy should not have these concerns about which she speaks. Can TV take a time out from customary practices and provide coverage to a category of our population that needs their assistance and commitment. Can the media and unions fight for them longer than just the time it takes to create a sufficient sound bite? Can the population get behind the struggles of people who need 24 hour care and compel the government to care for them regardless of the budget situation. Can America find its moral compass and use it to maintain the course for a better humanity? Are we able to embrace these people and demonstrate by our actions they are not are not forgotten? Until we do, people who need help will continue to be isolated. As long as they are isolated from the mainstream population, the mainstream population will be isolated from themselves.

1 comment:

Deb Mills-(ann @tbd) said...

Aloha Walter...One cannot imagine the hardships that these people really do endure, day after day.
Unless they are a part of that world like you once were.

I commend you for writing articles like these because it should be,
"food for thought"
for others who have no idea what it is like to live in a different situation, other then what they have known their whole life.