Mark

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Man with outstretched arms. The left arm is straight with the palm of the hand turned out, and the right hand is slightly bent with the hand stiff and curled due to cerebral palsy. He is wearing a black t-shirt with a white print of Donald Trump and the words “Not My President.”

As someone born with a relatively mild degree of cerebral palsy, I learned quite early on about otherness, about being not quite one thing and not quite the other either. Whether it’s been from being mainstreamed in a regular school classroom but still requiring “different” kinds of attention, being smart enough to disprove the bullying (and certainly aware enough to be hurt by it), but not strong enough to fight back, or not being “disabled” in the legal sense but not “able-bodied” in the physical one, I’ve struggled for years trying to figure out where my place is. And for the longest time, when it came to attempting to make people understand how it felt to be who I was (to say nothing of how and why), not only wasn’t I sure that they heard the right words, I didn’t know if they spoke the same language.

It was language that finally helped me to bridge the divide though. There was another one I was also learning at the time, and once I finally became fluent enough in for myself, I became a translator and interpreter for people who didn’t speak one or the other well enough to communicate with each other, often in the kinds of situations that would put even native speakers to the test. (There’s also the fact that we’re talking about people from the other side of the wall, and not the one Trump built his campaign on, either.) And since there’s no being understood without understanding in turn, I drew from my own experience and began to imagine (belatedly, of course, and with quite a journey still left to go) other kinds of otherness, how it must feel to be an immigrant or non-citizen, to be born of a color, religion, gender or nationality that the voices either inside or outside your brain keep saying is the wrong one.

I’m marching because the only wrong thing here is the direction we’re headed if we don’t, and because it looks like it’ll have to be the voices outside Trump’s brain to say it to him. But because I can, and just to make sure that nothing gets lost in translation, I’m marching out there as well.

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