*********UPDATE*************** It’s been approaching two years since this happened. Needless to say, when I wrote this, I was quite upset. I felt alone. I felt abused. I also admit I tend to have a slight flair for the dramatic (I used to be an actor – so that’s not surprising). Re-reading this post made me laugh a little because I could feel how upset I was, but I was quite theatrical in how I portrayed it. Today, I am older, I am wiser, and I made it into SENIOR YEAR of this amazingly hard program. I stuck it out and thanks to the support of the WSU faculty, I believe this will not be happening to other students. I wrote a post updating my stance on Wright State’s film program and urge you all to read it before making judgment on the program or faculty. The faculty (non-fill in teachers) has always had my back and will continue to do so for other students. Please read my update: HERE. ~~Dominick
I have endured too much. People do not even recognize the pervasive oppressiveness they give to people with disabilities. I know talking about it means that people who don’t understand oppression for those with disabilities will think it is my imagination. Ash stopped coming to class with me because she could not bear to watch the way I was being treated. I could keep my mouth shut and suck it up. Heck, I even made excuses. Maybe I was being sensitive. Maybe I just didn’t give my peers a chance. Maybe I just was too old for them to want to bother – then came this quarter.
My first year, I would talk to a few different peers. “Our peers don’t get you,” they would say. “They don’t want to work with you because they think you are incapable of helping them back.” I was advised to explain to my classmates exactly how I could help them. However, I felt this wasn’t my duty. Why must I educate them? Audre Lorde writes about how the oppressed must be educators to their oppressors, but I am sick of educating everyone. These are grown ass adults. I shouldn’t have to hold their hands through seeing that I am a human being just like everyone else.
They sure knew how to contact me when they wanted something from me. They would bother with me if I had equipment they wanted to use. They could use my camera, tripod or dolly, but that was the extent of our relationship. I asked for help on a few projects, but gave up when people were always too busy, wouldn’t return my emails or flat out ignored me. I formed my own crew and stopped asking for help, at all.
Then we got a new teacher. Students started testing boundaries, some making it horrid to be in class with their distracting personalities. I talked to the teacher and thought we were on the same page. Then this person sabotaged more than one of my projects. I emailed the teacher more than once about this person and received no reply. I spoke to another teacher about them, who was upset, but it isn’t their responsibility. Finally, the student started kicking me. YES, kicking me. Every day they sat near me they kicked my wheelchair. They put their feet on me like I was a foot stool. They picked pieces off my wheelchair handlebar, as my girlfriend watched them, horrified. I am unwilling to make a scene in the class, but the teacher won’t respond to my last emails about their behavioral issues – issues I would be ashamed of in my own son if he acted that way (which he wouldn’t because he was raised better). So, I figured it wouldn’t matter if I bothered saying anything. I endured the kicking, by moving throughout class to stop it from happening. Still, the person would extend themselves further, apparently because their momma never taught them not to kick a cripple!
Then, I showed up for class and my way into the room was blocked by people. They saw me drive by the door and they remained in a spot so I could not get into the class. I sat in the hallway, alone, waiting for class to begin, hoping they would let me in. Eventually, they left so I could sneak in, but I was already upset. The teacher walked right by me and didn’t say a word, as I sat in the hallway, alone. I was in pain that day, anyway, so I focused only on my throbbing leg. I tilted back, because it relieves the pain but the lights blinded me so I had to keep my eyes closed. I wished for sleep or death or both. I’d rather be dead than in class.
I stopped saying anything to the teacher. When I did they’d snap at me. I asked a question, snap. Another student asked a question I knew an answer to that the teacher does not, snap. I feel like I cannot say anything without feeling bad about myself. I am not trying to act above anyone. I am just trying to help. This teacher makes me feel bad about myself, and bad to be alive. This teacher makes me feel like the lowest of the scum – not even human. Nobody should be forced to feel that way. I know they will say I misinterpret things but I do NOT misinterpret how I FEEL. I FEEL LIKE SCUM. THESE PEOPLE MAKE ME FEEL LIKE SCUM. I don’t need this negativity in my life.
The teacher also tells me I need things I don’t have, but I do have them. I need to be given instructions for how to do things without command keys. I type blindly because I cannot look down at the keys, so hot keys in Final Cut do not work for me, but when I try to ask or offer suggestions of other ways I am snapped at. I’m told this is the way we do things. Let’s ignore my need for disability accommodations. I have considered filing a bias-incident report. I am on the BirT committee on campus. However, I worry all it will do is piss people off and affect my grade.
Thank the Gods for Luke and the other good people in my life, who make me feel like a person. Without them who knows how low I’d sink. They find what’s going on deplorable. They understand. I am a person. I deserve to be treated as one.
I wonder if anyone other than Ash knows how much I’ve gone through – how much of this pain – how much of this hurt? I wish it would end. It just gets worse, the older I get. Who knows how I’ve managed to live with all this hate? I just wonder WHY they hate me? What did I ever do to them other than exist? I tried to be nice to them – to help them. I tried to be their friend, but they didn’t want someone like me to be their friend. I am a great friend – loyal to a fault, caring, dedicated, devoted, hard-working, fun. I have always been treated like dirt, so no one understands how much good I have to give.
It doesn’t matter because they’ve won. They’ve wanted me out for who knows how long. All the cripple-bashing through indifference has worked. It happens and I feel it, whether anyone else feels it or not should not matter. Ash tells me they are bullies. They talk about how progressive they are as filmmakers. They can be feminists, open to GLBT people, but have a cripple in their presence and they become as bad as the people who cause all those kids in school to kill themselves. The WSU MoPix majors of 2014 are the bullies. They probably do not know or even care, but they will all be glad that I am leaving – that they have run me off. Maybe one day they will realize that they make people feel awful about themselves – excluded, not a part of the group, and like less than human. Of course, I’m sure they’d find a way to blame me. I’m sure I didn’t try hard enough – blaming the victim is always the way these things go and for a cripple it’s commonplace to be blamed for it all.
Maybe one day they will realize they made a human being feel like scum – maybe one day they will care.
Until then, I will make my own films, on my own time because while they may be dicks so that I want to be kicked from the program – they cannot kick me out of filmmaking. This is what I was meant to do.
They say “It gets better”. Maybe for the gays and lesbians but not for the people with disabilities. It gets worse…we just become more equipped to handle being treated like the lowest of the low.
[tags]bully, wright state, film department, motion pictures, discrimination harassment, cripple, disability, hatred, scum, worthless, mopix, suicide[/tags]