Yes, this is an old speech, but I thought it’d be great to put in an excerpt as this week’s “Quotable.”
“I’d like to share with you a discovery that I made a few months ago while writing an article for Italian Wired. I always keep my thesaurus handy whenever I’m writing anything, but I’d already finished editing the piece, and I realized that I had never once in my life looked up the word “disabled” to see what I’d find.
Let me read you the entry. “Disabled,” adjective: “crippled, helpless, useless, wrecked, stalled, maimed, wounded, mangled, lame, mutilated, rundown, worn-out, weakened, impotent, castrated, paralyzed, handicapped, senile, decrepit, laid-up, done-up, done-for, done-in cracked-up, counted-out; see also hurt, useless and weak. Antonyms, healthy, strong, capable.” I was reading this list out loud to a friend and at first was laughing, it was so ludicrous, but I just I’d just gotten past mangled, and my voice broke, and I had to stop and collect myself from the emotional shock and impact that the assault from these words unleashed.
You know, of course this is my raggedy old thesaurus. I’m thinking this must be an ancient print date, right. But, in fact, the print date was the early 1980′s, when I would have been starting primary school and forming an understanding of myself outside the family unit and as related to the other kids and the world around me. And, needless to say, thank God I wasn’t using a thesaurus back then. I mean, from this entry, it would seem that I was born into a world that perceived someone like me to have nothing positive whatsoever going for them, when, in fact, today I’m celebrated for the opportunities and adventures my life has procured.”
-Aimee Mullins, actress, athlete, model