By Victor Ochieng
A disabled man in Silver Spring, Maryland is reported to have parked his car in a handicapped spot at a shopping center. He found a brutally racist note placed on the windshield of his fiancée’s car, which seemed to imply that he had faked his disability status.
D’Anthony White, 30, who said he is legally blind but doesn’t normally use or wear glasses, said the note was left despite the fact that he had displayed his placard. Just by looking at him, many people don’t know of his disability. White said he was a passenger in the vehicle.
He uploaded a picture of the offensive note to Facebook. It read, “The only thing hadicap [handicap] on you is your brain you lazy n *gger.”
“My initial reaction was, ‘You don’t know if I have a disability or not. All disabilities are not visible,’” White said, adding, “Just because you can’t see my disability, don’t make the assumption I don’t have one.”
He took to his Facebook page to explain how Sunday’s unfortunate incident wasn’t the first time he has faced difficulties because of his disability. On other occasions, he has had to deal with negative reactions after parking in a handicapped spot.
“I try not to let any of the ignorance bother me too much — then they’ve won,” he said.
People with “invisible disabilities” are likely to be misunderstood, just as in the case of White. This is why as of late, many have stepped forward in order to raise awareness for the challenges they encounter as people whose pain, discomfort, and need for accommodation isn’t always noticeable.
There are several examples of invisible disabilities. According to NPR reports, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, PTSD, and bipolar disease are some examples of these kind of disabilities.
“You know, it’s the invisible nature of an illness that people don’t understand,” said Wayne Connell, who is the founder of the Invisible Disabilities Association. His wife was diagnosed with Lyme and Multiple Sclerosis, and it was after dealing with people who didn’t recognize her need for accommodations that he was inspired to start the organization.
“We’d park in disabled parking and she didn’t use a wheelchair or a cane, and so people would always give us dirty looks and scream at us,” Connel explained.
Statistics estimate that millions of Americans suffer from invisible diseases, many of whom have to deal with the frequent abuse that the Connels and White know all too well.