So I’m basically the three B’s: Black, Blind and Confident Female. And while you’d think being a minority with a disability would be cause for insecurity, it’s definitely been the opposite for me in recent years. Truth is, these attributes have not only made me stronger, more focused and tenacious, they’ve allowed me to be super proud of my achievements
When Nexus asked me to speak on how I refused to let my disability hinder my dance floor dreams, my first thought was: I didn’t so much keep my disability from letting me soar, so much as allow it to propel me forward.
Growing up, I was super shy and nervous as a result of my legal blindness (I’m blind in one eye and partially blind in the other). It’s difficult to tell what’s going on in an unfamiliar place, or to see signs and faces if not uncomfortably close. Because I don’t use a cane or guide, all things tend to get awkward when a woman who appears “normal” does things like hold a menu to her nose or openly ignore a friend’s wave.
While I still can’t see, I did overcome much of the shyness and nervousness. It really was the old Oprah adage of accepting who and what I am. The whole “hey, this chick’s pretty cool…other people might like her too!”
Instead of denying my black-yet-quirky-ness, I’m like let’s go ahead and sing with some soul but throw in cheeky lyrics. Instead of denying my womanhood, let’s go ahead and belt out about what women want. And instead of denying my disability, why not use the skills I’ve learned in dealing with it to my advantage?
Here’s a fun and everyday occurrence-y example. As I mentioned, I have a hard time with faces unless super close. And when I go to networking events, galas, shows, they’re often in dark places and attended by people I should automatically recognize. So I’ll grab a friend, and we’ll walk right up to someone, anyone, and I’ll go, “Hey, what’s up! This is my friend so and so!” Either the person will say “Hey Lachi!” or there’ll be a second of awkward shuffling whereby I go, “Oh, wow, hold on. I thought you were someone else. But anyway, I’m Lachi! Let’s all get to know each other.”
I’ve made countless friends, partnerships and even collabs this way, as it works pretty much every time, allows me to lightheartedly let them in on my disability. So I say, these differences, these special traits, use them. Take a second look at the skills developed overcoming the adversities they’ve posed and turn those skills into your unique advantage.