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I Rise

by | Apr 24, 2015

By Chelsea Zimmerman

poetryquote3The other day I took Grammerly’s Who is your poet BFF? Quiz and got Maya Angelou.

I didn’t immediately think much of the results. It was just a fun little distraction. But then I read the poem that was listed on the author’s page there, and wow. I was surprised by how much I was able to relate to it — as a disabled person. Particularly this excerpt:

“Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise…”

We’ve come a long way from the days when people with disabilities were referred to as “human weeds” and forcibly sterilized, institutionalized, euthanized.

However, the heavy push for assisted suicide these days and the now near-standard prenatal seek-and-destroy mission for children with various diseases and disabilities, show that we still have a long way yet to go.

But, of course, there is always hope.

Last year I told you about ten-year-old Ella Frech, who suffered a mystery illness that worsened to the point she finally needed a wheelchair. This girl is certainly on the “rise”!

Where the world is only capable of seeing tragedy and loss, Ella saw what was still possible and embraced it with incredible enthusiasm, grace and good humor. And guts!

Check out her Facebook page where she (or possibly one of her parents) frequently posts pictures and video showcasing her extreme wheelchair sporting talent.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Reflections of a Paralytic.