Updated: Nov 30, 2022
My name is Latrea Russ. I am 43 years old, a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and a business owner. I also happen to be disabled. What does being disabled really mean in the grand scheme of my day-to-day life? Does it mean I am somehow
limited in my thinking or limited in my understanding of life’s basic ideas? Since the dawn of time, the term disability has carried this ugly, dirty label that no one wanted to openly admit to being associated with for fear that they may be looked upon – as I dare say - differently.
However, the truth of the matter is that over a million Americans deal with having a disability on a daily basis and yes in some areas of life there are some noticeable differences between a disabled and non-disabled person. But we have to stop allowing those differences to define people with disabilities. We are all born with puzzle pieces that make up who we are. A person with a disability just has an extra piece, that’s all. My disability is visual and upon meeting me you can tell I am disabled by the shape of my head and that my eyes don’t exactly work together. Yet when people meet me for the first time and see all that I have going on, for some strange reason (and in all my 36 years on this Earth I still cannot seem to figure out why) they assume because I am disabled that I somehow lack intelligence. Disability doesn’t necessarily translate into a lack of intelligence. For example, I have a BA and a Master and the last time I checked, degrees were not being handed out as door prizes at parties.
Disability is only as complex as we allow society to make it. One thing I will tell you is that I am not my disability. It does not define who I am as a person. It does not determine what kind of person I will be. It does not define my purpose. I refuse to allow what some deem as a flaw to hold me back or prevent me from being successful in this journey called life.
I am not my disability and I refuse to allow society to stick me in a box that gets shoved to the back of the closet behind the coats. I refuse to allow institutions to use my disability as some form of punishment that keeps me stagnating for my dreams and goals. If you are reading this and you are disabled, I charge you to stand up. Stand up for your rights and no longer allow this world to write you off because you don’t fit their cookie-cutter image of what’s beautiful or what’s expected. You are beautifully and wonderfully made and despite your disability or what you may feel about it, God created you with a specific purpose in mind and it’s up to you to learn and understand what it is!