By Kabnoog Xiong, PR/Marketing Intern
To know everything there is to know in the world is impossible, but I am always learning and will continue to learn as long as there is time. Of the infinite things I personally know that I have a limited understanding of, there exists an equally infinite amount of things that I am not aware about.
I bring this up because my time at IndependenceFirst as a PR/Marketing Intern made me conscious of many things I did not know exist. It’s not like I was completely unaware of disability rights before my internship, but these topics were largely absent from my classes, family life and pop culture, so my knowledge was limited. I am always searching to learn more about things I don’t know, but I didn’t have a lot of prompts indicating just how much there was to learn related to disability issues to ignite further searching.
Sometimes, all it takes is for someone or something to steer you in the right direction. IndependenceFirst did that for me.
Disability history has been one of the most interesting subjects I came across while researching and reviewing the history of IndependenceFirst. Prior to my internship, I was not aware of Ed Roberts. Roberts was an activist and a leader of the disability rights movement. His efforts, along with many others, encouraged the acceptance of and access for people with disabilities in the community, including the pursuit of higher education. Go back hundreds of years to a time before that. Stephen Hopkins, a man with cerebral palsy, signed of the Declaration of Independence.
I have taken history courses on gender and have participated in discussions about racial and social discrimination in national and global history, but people with disabilities, including Roberts and Hopkins, were absent from my textbooks and the class discussions. I believe that in addition to the information being absent from the textbooks, my teachers may have had limited awareness of disability issues themselves.
Since I did not grow up around a person with a disability and I was not raised to be aware of disability rights and history, my time at IndependenceFirst was the perfect timing for me to shed a little light on them. I was fortunate receive the chance—a chance which needs to be afforded to many more people by our society—to become conscious of many things I did not know exist.