Even If I’m Not Cherokee, I’m Oppressed (Supposedly)

Enjoying fall leaves in Boston Common

According to family lore, my mom’s father was one quarter Cherokee. I’m reticent to embrace this claim after Senator Elizabeth Warren so famously had her Cherokee heritage debunked. During the height of that controversy, I learned the a vast majority of Caucasian Americans believe that they have Cherokee blood somewhere in their lineage. Therefore (as much as I’d like to think a little Cherokee blood runs through my veins), I dare not make that boast without further confirmation.

Even without Cherokee heritage, however, my gender and my disability provide sufficient grounds for me to accuse society at large and the church in particular of oppressing me. The disability part would especially nail it.

  • Completely segregated in special education from ages 4 to 13
  • Partially segregated in special education from ages 14 to 19
  • Continually taunted by neighborhood children and classmates
    • Called “Retard”
    • Called “Spaz”
    • Excluded from playing with neighborhood children
  • Discouraged from pursuing teaching career
  • Dismissed from job interview
  • Worked at home due to architectural barriers
  • Lived in segregated housing (nursing home) between 1995 and 1997
  • Throughout life considered intellectually disabled

So I think I could play the minority card and guilt able-bodied Christians into thinking they owe me perpetual penance for the wrongs I’ve supposedly suffered. In some respects, I could make the case that I’m treated unjustly because of my Cerebral Palsy.

I choose not to entertain such  a self-serving attitude, however. As a member of Christ’s body, I need to concentrate on using my abilities to edify my fellow believers. To do that, as I said yesterday, I must set aside my grievances and focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let the world complain about racism, sexism and the unfair treatment of people with disabilities. Let them march and shake their fists and demand reparations all they want, only to find that nothing will satisfy their rage.

But let us, as Christians, forgive those who cause us pain. Our identity is in Christ, requiring us to forgive those who wrong us and invest ourselves in joyfully serving the Lord. My gender, disability and possible Cherokee heritage take a backseat to the privilege of knowing Christ.

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9 thoughts on “Even If I’m Not Cherokee, I’m Oppressed (Supposedly)

  1. I thought “Special Education” classes were strictly for mentally retarded children. Or, is that just a misunderstanding on my part? Didn’t they ever talk with you? If they had ever taken the trouble to sit down and talk with you for five minutes, they would have knows soon enough that you were not and are not retarded.


    • From ages 4 to 19, I attended Marindale School for the Orthopedically Handicapped, though when I was 14 they began mainstreaming me half days into regular school. Many children at Marindale also had intellectual disabilities, caused me to be lazy, and therefore I drooped two grade levels. I entered 7th grade at age 14. I’d return to Marindale in the afternoons to be fed and toileted, as well as to receive physical, occupational and speech therapy.

      Liked by 2 people

    • We do not refer to individuals with disabilities as “retarded “ anymore.
      People first language teaches us to see these individuals as people first not their disabilities.


  2. Deb, This was such a wonderful post. My dear brother-in-law was born with CP and was blind. Growing up in the 50-60’s he went through similar trials. He was not a Christian, but he never acted like the world owed him an apology.

    It’s expected that the world would seek reparations for injustices about issues such as race, sexism, and disability, but it’s shameful when Christians buy into that foolishness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The point is not that you suffered from your experiences, but that others are in the same boat. The point is to advocate on behalf of others who are in the same boat. The issues that you described are related to larger issues in society — a society that discriminates against people who deal with the proverbial cards life dealt them. People should not be bullied, fired, or discriminated against for having unique conditions. I do not see how speaking up for others and demanding changes to make their lives better manifests a form of entitlement. Retreating into a passive religion that, in effect, abets oppression under guise of forgiveness seems to me an indication of brainwashing by others (which is certainly not your fault).

    Liked by 1 person

    • For instance, I garner that you once felt anger at society for your struggles, until someone came along and used religion to get you to accept unfair circumstances, because that’s “life and our competitive free economic way of life,” anything else being a form of whining entitlement indicative of weakness. Ironically, succumbing to that snake oil does not indicate strength, but rather a cowardly form of weakness (which is not your fault but others’). So the point is to just dismiss any form of structural change to the way society operates as sin, going against divine mandate and human corruption, and that the only solution is to “grin and bear it” in patient faith and discipleship. That seems more like a military regimen than an ideology suited to a democratic republic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Apparently you overlooked the clause in my Comments Policy that stipulates disagreements with my posts must be substantiated with Scripture quoted in context. I approved your comments only as a reminder that any correction readers offer should have their basis in God’s Word rather than human opinion, If anything I write violates Scripture, I certainly welcome rebuke. God’s Word is my authority, and I greatly appreciate being shown where I deviate from its principles. If you can demonstrate an instance of such deviation, I’d be most grateful!


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