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The Intricacies Of Being Black, Female and Disabled

When people describe me, I am the disabled girl with two crutches and a leg brace. I am not the black girl, I'm not even the black disabled girl. My physical disability is noticed first, while my race is only mentioned afterwards, if at all. As I have had polio since before I could walk, I have always been "the disabled girl". Due to the fact that my race was rarely mentioned, I grew up not thinking about it. I never thought of the different ways in which a black person and a white person would be perceived. It didn't occur to me to give it a second thought, as it never affected me negatively or positively.

Up until a few years ago, I was one of those people that didn't see race, I was "colour blind". I never saw race because race never saw me, I was not explicitly reminded of my blackness. People do not go out of their way to avoid running into me at night. There is no look of fear on anybody's face when they see me. I am 5'2 with an obvious physical disability, I'm not scaring anybody.

I believe that it is due to my disability that I have been shielded from my blackness for so long. It's as though the visibility of my disability nullified any threat that my black body may appear to pose. Mine is not the face you picture when you think of violence and crime. The fragility of my appearance assures you (read: white people) of your safety around me. And my familiar accent just helps cement my image as non-threatening.