It already seems difficult for professional, ambitious black women to find love, but you haven't truly known difficult until you add being disabled to the equation.
When it comes to some of the everyday freedoms and liberties some of us able-bodied people take for granted, disabled people can have a much more difficult time. On one hand, disabled people are often silenced or left out of the conversation completely. On the other, they can be made to feel like they are invisible.
I can only imagine that those feelings intensify in the dating and relationships department, making it hard for a disabled person to date or even want to date.
And when you're a black woman with a disability, who is trying to find love in this big sometimes cruel world, things can feel rather bleak.
At least, those are some of the things that I learned from activist/blogger/motivational speaker, Mama Cax's story on Yahoo! Lifestyle.
In celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, the website published a fantastic story that profiled six people with disabilities telling their truths about power, love, and visibility. Mama Cax was one of those profiles, and her story was the one that stuck with me the most.
Mama said that it took a lot to build enough confidence to date.
After losing her leg to cancer at 14, it seemed to take Mama years to build up enough inner strength to let the world see her glow. Especially since she had to learn how to live with a prosthetic leg.
She told Yahoo!:
It wasn't until after college that, with Instagram and blogging, I connected with other girls who were amputees. I thought, wouldn't life just be easier if I accepted this and didn't have to hide it? At the beginning it was really hard, because it was a lot of stares, and at that point I didn't have the stylish cover [from Alleles, in Canada]. I would get a lot of stares and rude comments, and so it was a long and painful road to get where I am now. But I think it got to the point where my confidence was just showing, and people were afraid to ask questions that would be perceived as stupid.
Mama finally found the confidence to get out there and mingle, after realizing that life was easier accepting herself as she was. She also discovered one fact of life that most women on the dating scene tend to understand:
...Whether you have a disability or not, you're going to meet s***ty guys and great guys. And you do get weird questions.
During her chat, she got the chance to discuss the lack of black, disabled women being represented in the media, and how that had a bit of an impact on her love life. Mama said that for a while, she was apprehensive about finding love, because she couldn't really picture it as an amputee.
I wasn't willing to put myself out there, because I didn't think anyone would find me attractive. That's also because of the image of people with disabilities we would see out there: I had never seen any romantic relationships in my circle or in the media — none of the characters have a disability, and if they do, they're kind of like the sidekick, the geeky person behind a computer.
She reminded readers that for black women, representation comes in many forms, and black women with disabilities are often left out of the equation. She said:
I think it's very important whenever you're able to see yourself represented, in media in general, and for me the interesting thing is I'm at the intersection of so many marginalized groups: I'm a woman, I'm also a black woman, I'm also a woman with a disability, and a lot of times people will talk about inclusion or diversity and I see women, I see black women, but a lot of times I don't see disability. So in spaces where there are a lot of women, it always feels like there's something missing.
I learned a lot from Mama Cax's story. Thankfully, there will come a day when more black women with disabilities are represented in Hollywood, and beyond. With that representation comes understanding, and with understanding comes less awkward encounters with disabled people, and in the process grant them with the thing all humans want. Love.