Letter to the Editor: “Prejudice against disabilities”

To whom this may concern.

My name is Maria Maisonet (Class of 2019) and I am disabled. [When] I received the [April] issue of your newspaper, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the stigma against disabled people was being addressed. I began the article with high hopes that this article would be insightful and informative for the Staples community. To be fair, the article did inform the reader about the plight of Fabian. However, Fabian’s story does not represent all of those afflicted with physical and/or cognitive handicaps. This isn’t to say that it was wrong on Inklings part to share his story, but I strongly feel that the disabled community as a whole was not given fair representation. Your newspaper chose to include all of the ‘juicy’ details of how Fabian came to be in a wheelchair. To be frank, the section read like a sob story, a ploy to hook readers by making them feel pity or guilt. Yet, at no point in this article did the author discuss who Fabian is as a person. When I finished this article, I had no idea who Fabian is as a person. All the article told me was that he is a boy in a wheelchair This is certainly unfair to only focus in on the medical aspects of his life, as if his wheelchair defines him. He was your mascot for your cause. This article fails to represent the diversity of disability. I have been involved in school newspapers and I remember Mr. Rexford, your former supervisor, constantly telling us to get all the different perspectives. This is a lesson you clearly did not pay attention to.

I feel that if one is going to write about the ignorance disabled people face, one should not be apart of that group of ignorant people. I’m sure Inklings had fond intentions while writing this article, however fond intentions don’t add up to much when Inklings is publishing an article that furthers the stigma against disabled people, especially if this article will be at the hands of the entire building.

The author also attempted to discuss Best Buddies, a wonderful club that provides those with disabilities an outlet and safe space to socialize. I would like to stress that this club is not for all disabled students. By making such general statements implies that all disabled students have trouble making friends. This is most certainly not true. I, personally, have a great group of friends and have no more trouble than any of my able-bodied peers when it comes to making friends. I have had many people ask me if I’m in Best Buddies because they are making the assumption that I must have difficulty  making friends since I use a walker. I am offended that people would make such broad generalizations and your articles is certainly not helping to alleviate this stigma.

Why doesn’t Inklings talk about what type of people we are? I, personally (please note this is only one perspective and that I do not represent all disabled people), am an honors student. I’m learning to speak Italian. I love to paint and draw. I play percussion in the freshman band and also play drums outside of school. Last year I and my partner were fifth best at Anatomy and Fossils in the state of Connecticut. I am very outgoing and funny.

These are the sort of qualities that should be included instead of talking about only a person’s disability. Yes, I do have a disease that inhibits me from walking independently, but it does not define who I am and should not define your article.

The message I took away from this article was that all the ‘normal’ kids need to help us disabled kids because we are left so utterly helpless. This is what gnawed away at the back of mind all day before I composed this email. I couldn’t and still can’t shake that bothered feeling your newspaper left me with. I don’t want anyone’s pity. I don’t want to be treated differently because of my disease. I’m no different than anyone else in this school and deserve to be treated that way. I’m not just this sad girl who can’t walk. I’ve worked very hard to come as far as I am today and I certainly don’t need anyone taking that away from me. All I ask is that I and all the disabled kids to be treated and seen as equal and I want to be fairly portrayed. Instead of spreading this stigma, Inklings should be informing their readers. There are many things in day to day life that are much harder for those with disabilities. Why doesn’t Inklings work on informing their readers on what being disabled truly means? It is only through knowledge that we can truly gain acceptance for one another. We are not your sad after school special. We are people, just like you, and deserve to be treated like such.

Inklings is supposed to be an award winning newspaper. Articles like this most certainly do not deserve any form of award.

-Maria Maisonet ’19