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Sunday, April 19, 2009

More on Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle has become an overnight sensation. Over 20 million people have watched her performance on Britain's Got Talent. She has been besieged by interview requests and I cannot imagine what she is going through. I truly. As one would suspect, the media has asked Boyle a host of particularly stupid and rude questions. In reply she has been as generous as humanly possible. I find the media saturation about Boyle frustrating because no one has asked the questions I consider important. For example, why is Boyle unemployed? How could someone with such an amazing voice remain completely unknown? If she tried to make it in the music business and failed how did this happen?

I sincerely hope Boyle's fame will enable others that do conform to accepted notions of beauty and normalcy to be given a chance to excel. This point was made on the blog Sexability and below is a great quote:

"All one has to do is look at Susan, her facial structures and features to know she's a bit "different," and is disabled. But not THAT disabled, obviously, as she has been able to stay at home and take care of an ailing mother for years instead of being the one cared for. Read the story of her life and it is the story of so many of our lives, it is not her difference that has disabled her, but rather societies judgement, shame and fear of her difference. Society's blatant unwillingness to give Susan a chance".

Society is indeed unwilling to give people outside the norm a chance. I doubt Boyle was ever given a real chance at success in the music business. In much the same way, people with a disability are not given a chance to enter the work force. When confronted with two qualified applicants, one disabled and the other nondisabled who do you think will get hired? The person without a disability gets the job in the vast majority of cases. In part this form of non verbalized discrimination accounts for the high rate of unemployment among people with a disability. Yes, children with disabilities are entering and receiving a education with their nondisabled peers but what happens when they turn 21 years old and age out of the system? This is a significant problem, one that has not been addressed. What I am striving to get across is that Boyle and all those that fit under the academic rubric as "the other" deserve a chance. Like Boyle, people with a disability just want a chance. If we fail at least we had an opportunity. Failure is part of life as is success but to be denied an opportunity is the real issue Boyle and disabled people encounter daily.


felix said...

Other people comment on her beautiful voice and how finally getting a chance to show her stuff before a large audience was a wonderful event. You have used her talent to promote your own cause. I didn't think about whether she was handicapped or not until I read your blog entry. Her performance made me weep for joy. Your snide comments did not.

william Peace said...

Felix, I think my cause is a good one--equality for all people that are not accepted or stigmatized. This cause would include Boyle, myself, and anyone else that is not treated equally based on one's appearance or bodily deficit. Boyle's performance was a wonderful event and the audience/judges reaction worthy of discussion.

One Sick Mother said...

It seems to me that there is way too much speculation on whether or not Susan Boyle has a disability.

She has not come out and said she has one. Until she does, any speculation that she may have one, and any claim any disability group makes to her will be utterly false.

Why can't you just celebrate the woman for who she is, and stop trying to pin additional layers ( of ...what? ...meaning? ...excuses?) on her?

She doesn't do it to herself.

william Peace said...

Mother, If Boyle has a disability it is not relevant. At issue are the snap judgments people make based on appearance alone. It was assumed she had no talent. In much the same way people with a disability are assumed to be incompetent or unable to excel. Boyle's ability to sign is a great skill. I am sure there are many others with a host of different skills that are under utilized or wasted because they are not given the chance.

Anonymous said...

First Off, to those people who say, "she hasn't come out and said she has a disability, Uh, YES she has, "learning Difficulties," which is a term used to define what in North America is called "Developmental Disabilities." What do you THINK happens to an infant denied oxygen during birth?

2nd - Many of the comments suggest that disability is something to be "overlooked," and one has to ask...why? Why should her disability be overlooked, it affects her whole life, she can't overlook it, she has lived much pain and suffered much predjudice (and yes, she has spoken of how she used singing as a way to escape the pain of being bullied throughout her life, AND that the kind of bullying she faced, leaves "the type of scars that can never heal" to paraphrase her.

I wonder why the commenters feel the NEED to deny and overlook her disability? Why can't they see her as a wonderful, talented woman with high functioning developmental disabilities? Because people with developmental disabilities or North American Defined Learning Disabilities can't possibly have mind boggling beautiful voices and talent?

I agree with William, Disability Pride, which means believing that there is nothing wrong or shameful about having a disability or different abilities, that there are millions of people with disabilities who have given much to the world, and like Susan Boyle have their disability minimized or "erased," from history, like gays and lesbians historically had their sexual orientation erased from historical documents, because society believed that as well was something shameful, dirty to be "overlooked," and not paid attention to. Disability Pride says, 'Nice that you have the choice to choose not to pay attention to our disabilities, unfortunately, we don't have that choice, because our disabilities are part of who we are, affecting our lives, our relationships, our employment, our culture, our history, our language, our inability to have equal opportunity in the world. Why should we be ashamed to be disabled, have disabilities or different abilities?

Susan Boyle is a Woman with Disabilities, and acknowledging that fact can give millions of people like her, with her life experiences and with her exact same kind of disabilities self love, sense of self value, hope in themselves and their future and their dreams. So WHY...

Do some people want to take a real live Hero with Disabilities away from those people with disabilities who truly NEED heroes like Susan Boyle. She IS a PWD and every time I watch that video of her, which I watch everyday at least once, I, as a PWD stand a little taller, face the world with a little more self love, confidence and strength, face the world with just that much more of a smidgen of PRIDE.

Pride in Susan Boyle, Pride in all PWDs who through acheiving their dreams, however big or small those dreams are, give a big old "Middle Finger," to a world who simply refuses to allow them to participate within it, a world who, for forty seven years wouldn't allow Susan Boyle the chance to succeed. Susan Boyle has Developmental Disabilities that affected her ability to learn, which by the way, includes ones ability to learn social skills, etc. much of the time, making employment difficult for those of us with these kind of problems. She has Developmental Disabilities, has been predjudiced against her whole life, faced a whole audience and judges predjudiced against her, the minute she walked on stage, and she KICKED THEIR BLOODY ASSES. That's right, a 'crip with developmental disabilities," what folks used to call a "retard," kicked the ass of a whole audience and judges including the Mr. Mean Simon himself.

THAT is something all of us PWDs, regardless of the disability can and should take PRIDE in.

william Peace said...

Ms. Pet, Wow, what a reply. I could not have written or stated it any better. Your words on disability pride are perfect. You also get to why I too watch Boyle's performance every day. Boyle did indeed kick the crap out of the audience and judge's preconceived ideas. She took their laughter and shoved it right back. It is not often one gets to do this in real life much less on television. Boyle is indeed a beacon of light, a hero if you will, to other people with similar disabilities. We can overcome bigotry and ignorance when given a chance.

william Peace said...

John, And your point is? All this is comes from a human being with great ability that was never given a chance.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

You know what gripes my cookies?

They were sneering at her when she appeared on stage. Then when that beautiful voice came pouring out - Oh! What a surpise! Why, she's a worthwhile person after all! Who would have thought?

The thing is, of course she's a worthwhile person. She would have been exactly as worthwhile if she sang like Edith Bunker. Just exactly as much. I don't get the "what have you done for me lately" view of human worth, especially as applied to women who are supposed by some to be valued more than anything else on whether they are sexually appealing.

william Peace said...

Laura, Boyle was sneered at largely because of her appearance. Gender was a major and as you point out women are supposed to be not only pretty, i.e. sexually attractive, but talented as well. It was not until Boyle sang that she became fully human. This reaction reinforces why I have always hated the idea that people with a disability need to "overcome" a physical or cognitive deficit. When this effort is made, think Christopher Reeve, society fawns over us but when a person with a disability asserts their civil rights they are perceived to be difficult or bitter.