A Request to President-Elect Donald Trump, From a Mom Whose Kids Are Hard of Hearing
Dear President-elect Trump,
We have never met. I am not one of your supporters nor did I vote for you. However, the election is over, and the people of our great nation have spoken, and I have no other choice but to move forward. But, in doing so, I would like to ask something of you, personally.
First, let me tell you a little about me and my family. I am a mother, wife, professional, writer and advocate (by default), for children and individuals who are Deaf and hard of hearing and who live with chronic illness. My two children, a daughter who is almost 16 and a son who is almost 13, are two former very premature babies who are medically fragile/complex and are also severely hard of hearing and rely on bilateral hearing aids. Despite the challenges they have faced, they are bright, funny, talented and they also take an avid interest in politics and issues related to social justice. They were especially interested in this election.
During your campaign, I think it is safe to say you were at times less than respectful to certain groups and individuals, including people with disabilities. Yes, I know there are two sides to every story and your team has said repeatedly that the media has taken videos of you and your words out of context to portray you in a negative light. But, as a citizen and a bystander, it’s difficult for me to separate fact from fiction. All I can do is address what I have seen in the media and share with you how it has affected my family. I hope you hear my concerns and take them to heart.
The first incident was when you appeared to mock New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski. Please realize when you mock one individual with a disability, you are also making fun and potentially alienating the 56.7 million other individuals in this county who live with a disability. Of that number, approximately 2.8 million are children just like mine — children who are struggling to fit into a society that is not built with them in mind, a society that often looks at those who are different as less valuable, less intelligent and even burdensome.
Of major concern to my family are the reports of you insulting Academy Award-winning actor Marlee Matlin. Three unnamed sources have said you called her “retarded,” mimicked how she speaks and that you were heard saying hurtful comments in her presence knowing she could not hear you. When my son saw this report, he looked at me with anger and tears of sadness in his eyes and asked me, “Mom, how is it possible that this man might actually be our next president?” As I struggled to find an answer, I became angry that you, a celebrity and candidate for the highest office in our country, could possibly act in a manner that left my child feeling like he had just been attacked by a bully in the school yard. I can only imagine what it felt like for him, but for me, it was like being sucker punched in the gut, swept to the side of the street, and left on the ground in a crumpled heap like a piece of discarded trash.
Being Deaf and hard of hearing does not make an individual unintelligent, just as being able to hear does not make a person smart.
You now have an incredible opportunity before you. Beginning January 2017, you will have the chance to demonstrate how you feel about individuals with disabilities and who are Deaf or hard of hearing. You can do this by trying to learn and understand the daily struggles faced by disabled individuals in accessing their workplace’s, schools, and community. You can learn about the unique challenges that Deaf and hard of hearing individuals face in accessing the one thing we all talk for granted: communication.
You will have the power and ability to help ensure that all children with disabilities have access to the resources they need to reach their full potential and that disabled adults have access to meaningful jobs, transportation and accessibility into their local communities.
If the media was truly wrong in portraying you as someone who would mock individuals with disabilities, then please demonstrate it with your actions as President of the United States by including individuals with disabilities on your staff. Support issues and legislation that help them personally, and be the type of president and role model my children can look up to.
Mr. Trump, personally, I question your willingness, interest and compassion in helping to improve the lives of individuals who live with chronic illness, disabilities and/or who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
This is what I ask of you, over the next four years: please do all that you can to prove me wrong.
From the Great State of Michigan
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Photo by Gage Skidmore