AwareNow: Issuu 17: The United Edition

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Page 89

I am broken. 
 I will, probably, always live with that fear of the days that those jagged edges will hurt someone that is not me, and that is a horrible feeling and something to work on (see below). But there is also a strength in being broken.

I'm a 26-year-old lawyer that by all accounts, shouldn't have made it anywhere near this far. Yet here I am. I do it anyway.

I am broken. 
 Life has knocked me down over and over again. Yet, I get up every time, and there is power in that. That's where the idea for "We do not yield" came from. It's why I wrote the piece on disability and policing that started my time at Awareness Ties; it's why I want to work in public policy. The world can be unfair, and random, and hard, but the idea I hope to prevail is the idea that we can get knocked down over and over again and still get up. I know because I've done it. When you spend your whole life fighting, there's a certain power that gets conveyed in the idea that you have yet to find something that can truly keep you down. I'm a 26-year-old lawyer that by all accounts, shouldn't have made it anywhere near this far. Yet here I am. I do it anyway.

A FINAL THOUGHT (FOR THE MOMENT)

I say it a lot, but the easiest way to address the jagged edges is to talk about them, and on an individual level, that's still true. What distinguishes this from other similar discussions, however, is that, unlike more discrete policy concerns, where we seek to understand broader communities, whether that be the disabled community, the LGBT+ community, or so many others, there's a certain amount of acceptance of visibility that needs to come from the rest of the world first. The world doesn't see the jagged edges that come with living a life with a disability or the deluge of questions I had for that guy in the bar, or the strength that can benefit others when we overcome those things. The world doesn't see the often unfortunate amount of courage it takes to come out, or the trauma of being told who you love is wrong, or the joy in finding that love. In short, the world does not see (or wish to see) many of these faces. Conversations, stories, and understanding is where we start, but at some point this world must move to accept these many faces and voices as well.

Happy Pride! ∎
 (A special thanks to Dani Overby for her help in editing.) JOEL CARTNER

Lawyer, Awareness Ties Official Advisor & Columnist
 www.awarenessties.us/joelcartner Joel Cartner is a lawyer and public policy professional with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia and Retinopathy of Prematurity. Cartner has a background in public health, disability, and education law and policy. He received his J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Cartner currently lives in Washington D.C. where he works as a Document Review Attorney while seeking legislative employment.

89 AWARENOW / THE UNITED EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com