Wednesday, October 21, 2015


For the nine months I was pregnant I went to every doctors appointment and ultrasound anxiously awaiting to hear those three precious words, "everything looks fine."

I ate right, avoided anything that might not be good for the growing baby, and felt guilty when I wasn't exercising.

We sat in the ultrasound room at 20 weeks waiting to find out the gender of our baby, but more importantly that each organ, her precious beating heart, her growing brain were all working good and they were. We no longer had to fear heart troubles, or other fatal conditions. We were all set.

So when we learned about Scotlyn's diagnosis of Albinism at around three months old we were dumbfounded. How did this happen? What did this mean? Neither of us, or any of our family members had ever known someone with Albinism. 

We grow up hearing about autism, ADHD, we might know someone who knows someone who is deaf, or whose parent has a mental illness, but Albinism? Not in our family and not in the schools we went to, or the towns we grew up in. So, I get it. I didn't know either, but now I do and I want you to know too.

I recently received this message from a lady that stirred up a lot of thought conflict in my head:

"So many people have never seen an Albino up close and personal. It is human nature to stare or even be a bit rude. Not that it was necessarily intentional. I've known casually a few "mostly" albino people. Beautiful people. And I asked my questions as a teen. Asking helped me understand and I totally get it now. Beautiful photo, too! I'd love to see how beautiful she is now. Oh! there's an old movie titled "Powder" that involves an albino boy. It's a sci-fi leaning movie but many of the reactions to the boy are true to life."

Although the message was intended to be kind it showed how much is unknown about this condition. You wouldn't call someone with  cystic fibrosis, "The Cystic" or someone with downs syndrome "The Downs", so why would you call a person with Albinism "an Albino". Sure, you might refer to someone with diabetes as a diabetic, but that condition doesn't ostracize people. It doesn't cause endless comments on appearance and it doesn't carry with it an entourage of subhuman or supernatural beliefs. Furthermore, Albinism is a genetic condition, you either have it, or you don't. There is no such thing as "mostly" albino people. 

One of the problems with movies like Powder, or the Da Vinci Code is that they portray people with albinism as villains, or with super powers which only ostracizes them further. The belief that people with Albinism have superpowers fuels problems, in places like Africa, where people are being murdered for body parts because of a belief that people with Albinism hold some sort of magic.These are people. People that could be your neighbor, your friend, or your child who are being slaughtered with machetes over a belief that a genetic condition can cure ailments or disease. People with Albinism are just like you and I, except with less coloring and maybe worse vision. Awareness has to be the goal in order to debunk these portrayals in Hollywood movies and around the world so these people can grow up to feel beautiful and normal and not fear social stigmas and stereotypes or worse, fear for their lives.

So, I ask you. Be aware of your language, of your intentions, and of the global bigger picture because the only magic she has is the ability to light up a room.

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