​Being Black, Paralyzed, and an American

Posted by Reeve Staff in Life After Paralysis on June 12, 2020 # News, Safety, Lifestyle

My name is Garrison Redd. I am a T-12 paraplegic born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, in a predominantly black neighborhood. I have experienced A LOT of discrimination and have witnessed police brutality first hand.

Being a black male is one thing, but then add being disabled is kind of a catch 22. Many don’t understand the predicaments I’ve been put in and have to experience almost every day. If it’s not met with accessibility issues, I’m being confronted with stereotypes. I’ve been in various vulnerable positions. I remember when I was pulled over by the police in NYC while driving my hand-controlled vehicle with my wheelchair in my trunk. The officers that approached my vehicle asked me to get out of the car and walk to the back so they can search my vehicle. For what you ask? No reason. I was put in a very uncomfortable situation. I had to tell the officers I am disabled, and I couldn’t do what he’s asking. As I reflect on the videos of police brutality and racism in this country, I look back on this day and think about how it could easily be me. What if the police officer assumed I wanted to be difficult and was resisting to come out of my vehicle. I was lucky that day – but you never know.

The systematic issues and restrictions this country imposes on blacks and individuals with disabilities need to change. There are so many obstacles to overcome from both perspectives. Not only has the criminal justice system failed certain populations, specifically people of color but also people living with a disability. The unemployment rate is exceptionally high in the disability community. When we do get a job, our Social Security is cut, which makes life extremely difficult as we have higher expenses than our abled-body counterparts. Stable housing and other elements of security only scratch the surface of issues that individuals with disabilities are faced with. However, through all the obstacles individuals such as myself are faced with, we are still able to strive and persevere towards our goals.

I am very proud to see individuals from all walks of life coming together to protest. From where I sit, Black Lives Matter and Individuals with Disabilities Lives Matter. I’m fighting for equality. I think the change that is needed will come, we just have to remember life is a marathon and not a sprint. It is time to end racism and discrimination for all people.

My name is Garrison Redd. I am a T-12 paraplegic born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I am searchable under Garrison Redd on Youtube or @GarrisonRedd on Instagram and Facebook. As well as you can visit my website thegarrisonreddproject.org and you can send me a message on Reeve Connect Garrison Redd or email. I hope everybody stays safe and strong.