I received an interesting email tonight and I wanted to share it with all of you. It’s from a guy named Mark, who responded to one (or both) of the articles I wrote on Jerry Lewis.
This is what Mark had to say:
“Get over it. Although you say that you are not defined by the wheelchair that you’re in, your essay betrays you.
Jerry Lewis may get paid by The Muscular Distrophy Assoc. and he may not. Whatever he does get I’d bet that he’s made more for MSA than he’s gotten – so who wins?
I agree with you; Jerry loves to be bathed in the positive glow of “humanitarian” light. I disagree with you when it comes to tuning out the Oscars because they honored him.”
I responded to Mark, but I feel that all my readers should feel welcome to share their thoughts on my blog, positive or negative, so we can discuss how they feel about the articles I write. I am thankful to everyone who reads what I write here at dominickevans.com.
Here is what I had to say to Mark. I’d love to hear his (and your thoughts) to my response. Feel free to leave a comment if you’d like:
Thanks for your message!
I am not defined by my wheelchair, though people like Jerry Lewis believe I am. My entire point is that people who do not know anyone with a disability look to Jerry Lewis to see how to treat those of us with disabilities. I am not a half person just because I am in a wheelchair, but Jerry says I am and people hear that. I don’t wish to be pitied for being in a wheelchair or forced to stay in my house because people pity me, but Jerry says we should be pitied and people listen to him.
I don’t want or need pity. I want people to understand that those of us with Muscular Dystrophy have so many things going for us beyond our wheelchairs (or other devices we may use) and our disabilities. When people first see me, they see my wheelchair and make assumptions. Many assume I’m also incapable of communicating, talking, or sharing my feelings and thoughts.
Many assume I did something bad to get in a wheelchair. Many ask why I’m in a wheelchair and then apologize to me for it. Why apologize? I’m grateful for my wheelchair. It has given me so much freedom and I am who I am, so don’t give me your pity. That’s just the main assumptions they make and they do often pity me, because all they see is how the Jerry Lewis’ of the world treat people in wheelchairs.
It is up to us (those of us in wheelchairs and/or with neuromuscular disabilities) to change people’s perceptions of us and to stop those like Jerry Lewis by stating that it is wrong for them to degrade us, pity us, and define us by our disabilities.
MDA has cut many services that help those with Muscular Dystrophy and they continue to make more and more money every year. Jerry Lewis doesn’t make a dime of that money himself. He’s merely a figurehead who attached his name to the telethon to keep his career going. The true humanitarians are the volunteers who spend hours tirelessly working on setting up events, on promoting events, on raising the actual money that Jerry claims he raises. They deserve this award…not Jerry.