Archive for the ‘Accessibility’ Category

Reid My MindRadio – Fears of a Blind Nomad

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Jim Paradiso at the Inca Ruins
When I heard about Jim Paradiso, I had to find out more. He’s a Blind Nomad… I had to hear his story. Turns out it’s so much more than that… he’s forcing you to challenge what you think is possible. That is, if you believe!

Take a listen and let me know; do you believe?

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s good fine people.

I have a lot to say about this episode so I’m just going to get right into it.

Well of course after the intro…

The best way to kick this one off…
[Audio: Been Around the World, Notorious BIG]
[Audio: RMMRadio Theme]

JP:
By the way what I’m about to tell you is true and I don’t give a damn if you believe it or not!

TR:
Any story that begins like that, well, you know it has to be good. whether it’s true or not, that’s for you to decide.

That voice you just heard is Jim Paradiso.
you can call Jim, a nomad!

A modern day nomad refers to people; often those with an online virtual business, where one’s income isn’t tied to a brick and mortar location.
Earning 60K for example and living outside of the US on various continents can really stretch that dollar.

That’s not exactly Jim’s situation. He’s been living a version of this lifestyle for over a year now and is currently in Loja, Ecuador.

According to Jim;

JP:
The adventure is the journey

TR:
With that said, let’s begin with the journey that lead Jim to Loha Ecuador.

JP:

I was talking to a friend, he was moving to Vilcabamba and I’d never heard of Vilcabamba and I said it sounds like a good name so I left to go to Vilcabamba. Which is a fifteen hour ride on a bus from. Manta to Vilcabamba. So it took me four weeks to get there.

I get into Cuenca and of course with me now I’m traveling alone for the first time. And I’m up in this Hostel, I said well OK, so I posted on FB { I’m in Cuenca, what’s there to do for a blind man traveling on his own?

TR:
Ok, , the fact that Jim is blind for most people probably makes the idea of him living a life as a nomad and traveling in unknown places, is maybe;
Very frightening?
Unbelievable?

Well, then let’s pause on the journey through Ecuador for a moment and hear what some may think is an unbelievable adventure of Jim’s vision loss
and the series of preceding events .

JP:
I had an aneurism Thirteen years ago on my left eye. And they tried to fix it and they screwed up the eye entirely. Then three years ago I woke up one morning and I had an aneurism in the other I. And I went through ocular injections and everything else that went with it and I had a bad reaction to the ocular injections which caused me to have a stroke.

so I was living with a girlfriend who decided she didn’t want to be with a blind man.

I ended up homeless. I was a month from being blind enough to qualify for Social Security. I was unemployed and Basically I was living on the couch of a motor home
that belong to a friend of mine who was in a retirement community.

So I get a phone call from my brother who was living in Ecuador and he said Well Linda is looking for a manager for a B&B would you like the job? I said, well what’s the pay. Room and board and fifty dollars a week.

Ok, I could be homeless in a motorhome in Florida or I could be homeless on a beach in Ecuador?
kind of a no brainer to me.

TR in conversation with JP:
and I’m sure fifty dollars is different in Ecuador than in Florida.

JP:
It doesn’t make any difference as long as you got food and shelter who cares about the rest of it. I live very inexpensively because that money doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.

I went for a pedicure because I couldn’t see my toe nails and I was catching them on my socks and when she cut the calluses off the bottom my feet so when I went for a walk on the beach I ended up getting third degree burns on the bottom of my feet.

I picked up a flesh eating bacteria and I had to be medivac the act from Ecuador to the United States after two operations down here and five days in the hospital.
The flesh eating bacteria that I picked up is usually fatal within seventy two hours and the only cure for it is amputation; actually they call it debridement which really is amputation. They have to remove all of the bacterial growth because it doubles in size every nine minutes.
Once I got back into the United States they put me in the teaching hospital in Shands of which this was the second case they had in fifty years of this particular virus. They amputated two toes and debride most of my foot and then they had to regrow it in an oxygen rich environment.

This took ten weeks and then they put me in a nursing home for a month. Rehab they call it but it actually was a nursing home.

While I was there I had an abscess on the back of my head so I went to the doctors when I had my foot looked at and they slants the abscess and said this isn’t right so they sent me to a Dermatologist.
Well when they slants it they gave me MRSA – which is another flesh eating bacteria. While I was at the doctor’s they said oh I don’t like these moles on your back let me have them biopsied. Well as it turned out I had skin cancer. They had to operate on my back and removed the skin cancer. Which I thought we were just going to remove a mole but they ended up doing 19 stitches on each side and trenched both sides of my back. Then they had to put me on different antibiotics in order to kill the MRSA they gave me and then when they removed that they discovered it was a tumor. Then they had to remove that. And that was in six months.

At that point I was afraid of dying.

When I finally got settled with Social Security Disability, I Flew back to Ecuador.

TR in conversation with JP:
Why?

JP:
Because my kids wanted to put me in a retirement villa.

TR in conversation with JP:
How many kids do you have?

JP:

Again that’s an odd story…

I have four kids but they’re not mine.
TR in conversation with JP:
Oh Ok!

JP:
My ex-wife’s two kids from her previous marriage.
And I have her ex-husband’s two kids from his previous marriage.

TR in conversation with JP:
OK that’s a new situation!

You have her ex-husband’s kids? (laughing!)

JP:
They all consider me dad and I was always there for them.

By the way, have you ever heard a story this ridiculous?

TR in conversation with JP:
so many people stories that I have heard of do have like one thing on top of the other you know but this flesh eating viruses and tumors, yeah… you’re winning!
– laughs!

TR:
Now, returning to Ecuador Jim met up with a friend.

JP:
He didn’t have any money and I said OK I need someone to travel with because blind people can’t travel alone!

Well I spent three weeks in the Andes and then two weeks in the Galapagos. Then we came back and we went up to Colombia – we spent three months in Colombia. Then we took a cruise and went from Cartagena through Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. And then circled around back and then went hiking in the mountains and Colombia

TR:
That friend Jim was traveling with was 42 and at the time Jim was 60.
Plus he was still recovering from flesh eating diseases,
multiple cancer surgeries and newly adjusting to blindness.

He learned a valuable lesson.

JP:

There are some things that are worse than traveling alone and that’s traveling with somebody else!

So at Christmas I flew back to Manta.
TR in conversation with JP:
So Jim can I ask you… you just
shared all of that … I mean you talked about a cruise and
flying to the Galapagos and stuff so you’re financing that on the Social Security?

JP:
Yeah!

TR in conversation with JP:
OK! And at this point you’re not paying rent or anything like that just traveling so you’re a Nomad.

JP:
Right, I’m a Nomad, I’m homeless.
I’m doing this on $1,127 a month.

So anyways when I got back to Manta I had infected my foot again and I had to stay off it for six weeks which drove me nuts.

So I was talking to a friend he was moving to Vilcabamba and I’d never heard of….

TR:
That brings us back to Jim’s journey.

When we left off, he was on his way to Vilcabamba
and stopped in a Hostel in Cuenca
where he posted the question

JP:
In Cuenca, what’s there to do for a blind man traveling on his own?

One guy suggested why don’t you head up to Ingaperka which is a Aztec ruin in the Andes which would be Eastern Ecuador.

TR:
So off he went to Ingaperka to find the ancient Inca Ruins.

Now if you’re thinking Jim is probably fluent in Spanish
or of course everyone speaks English,
well you’re wrong.
In fact, most people in the town of Ingaperka speak a dialect of the Incas.

JP:
The bus let me off in the middle of this town. I have no clue where I am I finally find somebody that speaks about four words of English.
And she asked me what I was doing and I say I was looking for the ruins. And she says ruins Cinco. I said Cinco kilometers. She says no Cinco minutos. I said where and she say aqui and pointed me to a road and so I walk up the road. I walk into this beautiful state park.

TR:
After receiving a tour of the ruins
well, it’s time for Jim to begin making his way to Vilcabamba.
He catches one bus to Cuenca and another to Loja.
Which is where he of course posts to Facebook:

JP:
What’s there to do for a blind man travelling alone through Loja?

Well this woman posts back well I have these two. English students who
are blind and would like to meet you. They’re sisters. So I meet them for coffee they come in on the arm of somebody crab walking because they don’t travel alone they’re in their thirty’s and they’ve been blind all their life.

They sit down and we’re talking and one of them looks at me and says who are you traveling with? I said nobody.

She Says Do you speak Spanish? I said no she said you can’t do that! I said yeah, I can!

TR:
By now you probably get the impression that the response, yes I can,
that’s something Jim is quite used to saying!

JP:
I’m here!
She takes me over to the elementary school which I’ll tell you is like a prison. Two meter high concrete walls surrounding it with broken bottles over the top of it and they’re all concrete bunkers and it’s just… it’s got mold it’s just… it’s a horrible place.

TR in conversation with JP:
Is that specifically just for blind children or is that…

JP:
Yes, it’s specifically for blind children. And there are residents there and there are day people that come from the city and this is the only blind school for elementary school children in the area. And she tells me that they don’t teach mobility there because they had to cut they cut their budget and the person they cut from the budget was the mobility trainer.

Now my experience with mobility training is I am blind
and I am mobile. There are my qualifications for the position… so now I’m the mobility trainer.

TR:
See what I mean by saying yes…
Jim not only said yes to teaching others who are blind to use the
white cane and more, but he has a pretty packed schedule.

JP:
I’m working four days a week from eleven to one at the elementary school. I work five days a week teaching conversational English at a college and I work two nights a week teaching mobility and technology at the high school.
I’m starting a nonprofit… We’ve got a doctor. Who is volunteering his time services to do prosthetic eyes on the kids that have missing eyes plus I have the Go Fund Me going…other than that I’m not really that busy!

TR:
That Go Fund me is a campaign to raise money to purchase white canes,
iPhones or iPads to provide children with GPS capabilities
in order to improve their mobility.

You can find more at:
http://GoFundMe.com/3noxfco

If you’re wondering what are the living conditions for a blind nomad
in Ecuador
Jim says his apartment in Ecuador
would probably rent for several thousand in New York City.

JP:
It’s the studio penthouse with a balcony view of the mountains. Glass all the way around its fully furnished. It has a hot tub, a walk in shower. The bathroom is ten by twenty and I pay $350 a month for it including utilities.

TR:
Jim’s a volunteer! He’s not paid for any of his work.
Well not in the traditional sense!

JP:
What I get from a kid who comes up and hugged me. You know – I’ve got children that actually… they don’t speak the language that I speak and they cannot express themselves on how much they really appreciate me.

I get people hugging me all the time. That’s what I get paid in!

While I still have work to do here I’m not leaving. It’s just different it’s a different lifestyle I found a place where they need me so I’m staying. When they don’t need me any more I’ll go somewhere else.
TR in conversation with JP:
How do you feel today about everything that happened? That whole crazy story you told me.

JP:
I will tell you something that you will very seldom hear from a blind person.

Going blind was the greatest opportunity of my life! Without that none of this would have happened. And that’s how I look at it.

TR:
And isn’t that what it boils down too!
How we choose to look at it!

Jim is actually looking for an assistant volunteer
to join him in Ecuador.
He needs help with some of those things he’s doing like
teaching mobility and technology.

He can provide room and board, but
the candidate needs to pay for their own travel.
Oh, yes, and the candidate must be blind.

Jim can be contacted directly through his Facebook page titled:
Blind Jim Can’t do That!
(Yeh, I can!)

I’m Thomas Reid
for Gatewave Radio,
[JP: I don’t give a damn if you Believe it or not ]
Audio for Independent Living.

TR:
I have never described myself as a journalist.
In fact, I make sure to say, I’m not.
I am a self-described Advocate who uses audio to make a point.
I don’t hide my opinion,
I choose the stories I want to tell and have a real solid perspective.
The idea of a journalist is that they supposedly don’t have that bias.
I don’t believe that at all!
However, A journalist would have done some real fact checking of Jim’s story.

They would have contacted various sources to try and confirm
his account of the events.

I am a New Yorker,
I instinctively don’t believe you!
It’s something I am really trying to rid myself of but it’s so ingrained in my being it’s really hard to separate.

I know there are some who will listen to this and not believe him.

Some will assume he has some residual vision – and say
that’s the reason he can do it.

Jim does have a bit of light perception which allows him
to see shadows out of a part of one eye.

Some will think it’s his nature.
Well, it’s probably fair to say Jim is something of an adventurer.
Before losing his sight he was a professional scuba diver diving throughout
the US and Caribbean.

That included salvage work for insurance companies, body recovery,
owning his own diving school and treasure diving in the Caribbean.

So here’s the thing…

I do believe Jim.

Jim is 100 percent telling the truth about the fears of a blind traveler.

Those fears are not just contained within the person who is blind.

You know that because as you were listening you felt uncomfortable.

You know you did.

I don’t care if you are sighted or
any degree of blind, you felt it!

I felt it! And feeling that way upset me.

I travel alone to different states but I had a fully planned itinerary.

Jim’s story made me challenge how I look at the world
and what I really believe is possible.

During our conversation a woman interrupted Jim and I asked him to explain what happened.

JP:
some woman just walked up to me and said You’re an inspiration to the people down here. I overheard your conversation.

I have people walking up to me on the street constantly doing that.

TR in conversation with JP:
How does that feel?

JP:
I don’t think I’m anything special.

I think everybody has it within themselves just that I choose to do that my question to people is Why don’t you choose to do it.

There are so many people out there that don’t want to leave their house and it bothers me.

TR in conversation with JP:
Why?

JP:
I’ve met so many blind people in my. Limited time being blind. And most of them tell me that they have limitations on everything they do.

You know they tell me it’s OK that you can do this but I can’t and then they give me a list of reasons why they can’t.

TR in conversation with JP:
What are some of those reasons?

JP:
Oh I could get hurt I could fall down. I could get lost.

So what’s the big deal you don’t think I get lost you don’t think I fall down you don’t think I get hurt?

TR:
I think it’s fair to acknowledge that the emotions behind these thoughts are real. But Fear you may have heard
is an acronym for False evidence appearing real.

You know what else is real!

Our perspective!
And we can actually control that!

JP:
I survived cancer. I’m blind. I survived the flesh eating bacteria What are you going to do to me that God hasn’t done already? It’s true! What fear do I have now. They told me I was going to die on three different occasions.

TR in conversation with JP:
you know you’re going to go at some point.

JP:
Right, we’re all gonna go some time!
I’d rather go out swinging then go out crying.

There is nothing holding you back but yourself.
I was at a Blind I Can meeting I can do is what they call it…

And they were talking about having an outing and they were talking about going out to lunch.

I mean, what is going to lunch proof for a blind person. Everybody eats!

They asked me what my idea of a good outing was…

There’s a place in Florida in Orlando called Machine Gun America. It’s automatic weapons… what the hell could possibly go wrong!

TR in conversation with JP:
Laughing!… I love it!

JP:

Make yourself feel alive.

You’re dead, nobody’s told you!

TR:
Jim, like many who lose their vision later in life, especially over the age of 55, never even had real mobility training.

JP:
My mobility training consisted of twenty minutes.

I learned everything on the internet and by myself reading books so when
they finally picked up my paperwork they put me through … they put me in front of a mobility trainer who told me that in familiar surroundings I was Ok, but I needed work in unfamiliar surroundings.

So I was hiking staying at an Echo lodge called Ukuku in Columbia it’s outside of Ibagué.

It’s a two kilometer hike up a mountain across three rivers. To get to this and the last river you crossed There’s a log and you got to balance on a log to cross the river.

Now do you know the proper caning technique for crossing a log bridge?

TR in conversation with JP:
Laughing… No I do not!

I think mine would be to straddle the log and then slowly go across. That would be my technique.
But that’s just me!

JP:

So I had to call back to the person who was in charge of the mobility training and I said, hey Tom what’s the proper caning techniques for crossing a log bridge?

TR in conversation with JP: To the avenue.
Oh my gosh! Did they have any advice for you?

JP:
Oh hell no.

TR:
But don’t get it twisted,
Jim isn’t some sort of blind Evel Knievel.
(If you’re younger than 40 Google him!

Jim is practical about his travel.

JP:
I have a theory. It’s really simple when I get to a town if I check into a Hostel I get the business card of the Hostel, put it in my wallet.

If I get really lost I take the business card and I give it to a cab driver and I ask the cab driver donde esta aqui… where is this? And he takes me there.

TR:
That practical advice goes beyond travel…

JP:
I’m trying to convince people that just because you have a problem doesn’t mean you can’t get your ass out and do something.

I listen to people tell me they can’t get a job. Well, go volunteer and get some experience!

TR:
I’m hoping to speak with Jim again.

And who knows maybe that will be in person, in Ecuador.

There are links on Reid My Mind.com to both the Go Fund Me and his Facebook page if you want to communicate directly with Jim.

I usually close with my reminder for you to subscribe to the podcast…

well today, I’m closing out with part of a favorite quote taken from Jim’s Facebook page.

Maybe someone will find it helpful… I think Jim may have.

Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

Peace

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Reid My Mind Radio – The Blind Temptations

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

EVERY NOW AND THEN I SHARE some of THE THINGS THAT CROSS MY MIND.

In this episode , I’m pointing out the fact that things that should help  us can be the same things that do more than distract us from our goals!

TRANSCRIPT

Show the transcript


TR:
The title of this episode, “The Blind Temptations”, may have you thinking I am announcing my new idea of
touring with four other gentlemen who are blind and singing the classics, like My Girl, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Just My Imagination.

Notice I didn’t include Ain’t too Proud to Beg in that song list.

Maybe you now have images of the famous Motown group doing their dance routines either while holding white canes or guide dogs.

If so, well you’re stupid!.
[Laughs]

No I’m just kidding! you’re probably just silly!

I’m not really talking about those Temptations.

Before I get into that…
[Audio: temptations…. hold up!]
[Audio: rmmradio Theme]

TR:
The Temptations I am referring to are scary to me.

That’s not something I would ever expect to hear myself say out loud and especially here on my podcast, but  it’s true!

Temptations lure a person away from staying on track.

They offer temporary  distraction, a fantasy for something that most likely cannot be attained.

For those going through vision loss or any significant life change; these distractions can be much more tempting.

Think of those who experience sudden job elimination that requires a whole new approach to employment while in mid-career.

Confidence levels are down. Self-identities are challenged.

In such examples, many distractions are accepted in our society or at least they’re understood

Think of the classic I just got fired story.

It’s usually the guy working at the factory for years.  He shows up at the bar after getting the news. He gets a drink on the house first and then his buddies begin buying rounds.

go ahead, get your drink on, you deserve it. the poor guy!

When it comes to adjusting to blindness, there’s a lowering of the bar that takes place. People expect less from the person experiencing the loss. . More than often, it’s those outside of the immediate family. Some times that could include those inside the personal circle or family and friends.

And then let’s not forget that much of the misunderstanding about blindness and what that means for a person could be inside the individual experiencing the loss. They may now limit themselves. Their expectations are impacted and often that means becoming satisfied with less.

“Well, you can’t work so you will now stay home and listen to your radio all day.”

I felt temptations early on after my own loss. When I realized it, it shook me up.

I was in my mid-thirties. I wouldn’t say I was on my way to becoming CEO or even Manager, but I was growing in my career and
reaching some personal and career goals.

My first reaction to vision loss was to push through.

My sight was basically already gone and I had a surgery  scheduled for the end of January, that I knew would leave me permanently blind. Yet, I thought in my mind that I would be back at work by the end of February at the latest.

I find that so funny now!

I didn’t think  about the new things I would have to learn. I didn’t think about issues of accessibility because I simply wasn’t aware of them at that time. My focus was just on continuing where I left off. I didn’t really give that much thought into how would I do things or
even if those things I used to do would still matter to me.

Soon after the temptations began doing the things they do…

[Audio: Temptations, “The Way You Do The Things You Do”]

The first seems almost common today; addiction.

This has always been a fear of mine. ! I have addictive tendencies.
Yes, right now to things like chocolate… I go through binge periods.

I’m not making fun of addiction in any way. I know today addiction to pain killers is looked at quite differently from
let’s say how addictions were viewed when crack was the drug of choice! The substance, shouldn’t matter nor should who the addicts are but that’s another episode topic.

I was given Percoset for the pain following my surgery. I found myself taking them nightly. I soon began noticing a smell after I would ingest the pill.
It didn’t stink nor did it smell good. There was a sweetness to the smell, but
not like candy, cake or chocolate!
Thank goodness because I would be somewhere fiending right now!

It was different.

I began noticing the smell during the day when I didn’t take  the pill. I wasn’t anywhere near the pill.
I’d start thinking about taking the pill and the way it lulled me to sleep. That numb feeling of no pain, worries or problems that seemed of any immediate importance. I soon realized I was taking the pill without even any pain.
it was more about the habit of taking it and the way it carried me away to sleep at night.

It picked me up and placed me on a bed of clouds and off to sleep I went.

When I smelled the scent of the pills during the day I started thinking about  how I now had a pass. Taking the pills to  help relieve me of the nonphysical pain seemed almost acceptable. I began creating  what seemed like reasons that would permit the behavior…

“Well, I’m not working now, I’m alone in the house today.”

“The doctors gave me the pills, I have to use them.”

These were just mental excuses. I was  arguing with myself internally as to why I should take a pill even though I had no physical pain.

“who’s gonna know?”
That was it!  I flushed the rest of the pills and that was the last time I took them.

Temptations come in all forms!

During my first few months of adjusting, I would spend the early part of the day before noon, watching a lot of standup comedy on comedy central.

Stand up is great! It’s mostly accessible as it is usually vocal performances.
It was helpful, it took me out of my own head and made me laugh. That energy release helped me feel a bit more positive.

During that time my television options were limited. I didn’t have much in the way of audio description for television or movies. I didn’t enjoy the movie watching experience unless
I was watching something familiar and
I’m not really the type who likes re-watching a lot  of things.

I think about the access we now have to Netflix and
other options for audio described movies and television.
that could have played into my adjustment.
I could have chosen to spend my time mindlessly watching television or movies all day.

I can hear the excuses in my head now!

“What else am I supposed to do?”

“Watching and analyzing shows or movies gives me some insight into humanity and maybe even my own situation.”

“I’ll watch the movie while I fold the laundry.”

Right now, with shows like Black Mirror on Netflix? I might accept having that bar lowered. Sitting around playing with my iPhone and watching Netflix all day sounds pretty good!

“Don’t do it!”

It’s not just Netflix!

There’s the internet and technology in general too! You know these are real temptations!

At one point it looked like blind people would be barred  from participating in so much of this technology. However, rightfully  so, accessibility improvements are happening. Are they happening fast enough for everyone?
No, but they are happening and we have to acknowledge that.

Even console game makers are thinking inclusively and developing games
that will enable gamers with disabilities including blindness to participate.

I’m not mad at that or any of these “temptations.”

I guess I’m speaking especially to those adjusting to vision loss and who want to make a point of reaching their own goals with their new situation.

The more access we have to things that can improve our opportunities and daily lives the better. It just so happens that these things are potentially the same things that can tempt us into complacency and accepting less of ourselves.

In a way though, isn’t that what accessibility is all about?

Access not only to participate, but to make all of our decisions that affect our lives.

Like choosing to subscribe to this podcast! The show is short in duration! It won’t take you away from  anything. You can fit it in on a quick break or as you’re doing your daily activities; making or eating breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Brushing your teeth. Walking your dog. Whatever it is you do, doing it is better with Reid My Mind Radio!

Subscribe anywhere  you get podcasts.

Shout out to the person who left me a review on iTunes.

I hear that’s the way to help get other people to discover the show. If you can please give me a review as long as it’s good.

No seriously if you are a hater, feel free to hate, but everyone knows haters shouldn’t rate, just discriminate!

I’m good with that!

[Laughs]

Thanks for listening!
[Audio: RMMradio theme]
Peace!

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Reid My Mind Radio: Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Picture of Doctor Dre, seated with a tan fur jacket with the caption, Doctor Dre The Fight Back!

Doctor Dre of Yo MTV Raps, NYC’s Hot 97 Morning Show, the movie Who’s the Man? And so much more … is launching The Fight Back!

Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and now blind, this fight back is about more than you probably think.

This episode features the piece produced for Gatewave radio followed by more personal conversation with Dre. Plus, you know there’s only one way to intro this podcast… if you were a morning show listener you know I had to do it…it’s the roll call!

So c’mon yawl, listen to Dre…
>scroll down a bit, , to hear the show press play!

 

Resources:

 

Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:
What’s good everybody?
This is a special episode so I’m going to jump right in…
it’s no mystery , the title of the episode says it all.

If you’re in my age group You remember when older folks said rap was a fad and
black radio didn’t play the music!

You remember when MTV played videos and they weren’t black artists let alone rap music.

Yes, this episode is featuring that Doctor Dre from YoMTV Raps and many other things like the Hot 97 morning show.
With that in mind! There’s only one way for me to kick-off the podcast…

Yeah, I’m gonna do it!

[Audio: From The Hot 97 Morning Show with Ed, Lisa & Dre
Music…
“What’s up yawl, whatcha got to say, who’s on the phone with Ed, Lisa & Dre?”]

TR:
Yo, TReid’s the name, and right now’s the time
Welcome to the podcast called Reid My Mind!

Cheah!

[Reid My Mind Intro]

TR:
Significant vision loss can force a person to face real doubts and questions.
Such as;
Why did this happen to me?
What do I do now?

Andre Brown has chosen to answer the last question by launching a fight;
well really a fight back.

It’s more than vision loss.

In  2008 Andre was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes.

He experienced multiple complications of the disease including Charco – foot Syndrome which he says can cause a collapse of the ankle.

DD:
My vision loss came as a progression of that and not taking care of myself properly.

my vision loss was a gradual thing where I  started seeing little things across my vision. Little lines and you know things jumping.

TR:
After These lines often called floaters,  multiple surgeries to repair detached retinas,
Andre was left with some light perception.

DD:
Diagnosed as Diabetic Retinopathy but  as the Doctor said  to me , he said that’s what’s   blocking your vision, you have scar tissue in the back. He said we can’t do anything about  it until we stop the Diabetes. So once that happens then  we can do a different procedure or two to see if we can make the sight  come back.
I’ve spoken with a lot of different people and everyone has told me that my sight  returning is a very strong possibility, especially with what I am doing now.

TR:
What he’s doing now?
Simply put, he’s fighting back!

This fight is just as much for others as it is for himself.

Andre’s in a unique position to take on this job.
You see he’s been working in support of the careers of others for years.

Andre Brown, is better known as Doctor Dre, a pioneer  in Hip Hop culture and entertainment.

Starting out in WBAU, the Adelphi University radio station in Long Island,
Doctor Dre would eventually go on to record music with his group Original Concept.

He D Jayed for the Beastie Boys.

He was involved in getting one of Hip Hop’s most prolific and influential groups, Public Enemy on to Def Jam records.

Most people know him as part of the Ed Lover and Doctor Dre Duo who
hosted “Yo MTV Raps” every weekday
between 1989 and 1995; As well as
extremely successful radio morning shows in New York City between 1993 and 1998.

DJ, musician, actor, author… and now
Doctor Dre is  in a position to bring real attention to two of today’s
very significant health crisis ;
Diabetes & Vision loss.

DD:
Well we have the program that’s called Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back.

Taking the situation and being able to talk to other people and say, I can show you through  what I’m going through  that we all can change. We all can grow.

I’m finding other people that have different or similar experiences and being able to share that. So the fight back is
how do we reach out and get so many resources to work with you to try to actually change your situation.

TR:
Changing the situation by providing access to information  including;
medical, lifestyle and technology.

DD:
I’m doing a lot of Holistic medicine along  with traditional medicine to work with my Diabetes  and just to change my diet. Just putting that under better control

I’m playing the Guinea pig so everyone can  see it.

TR   [In conversation with Dre]
When you say   you’re playing the Guinea pig what does that mean?

DD:
Sometimes you have to go out and someone has  to go oh hey does that work, well I’ll try it  let’s see

I’m not bringing guarantees, I’m trying to bring choices.

What we’re doing is trying to bring those choices to the fore front. so there no longer just whispered in a corner or you have to pull this up on the Google thing… know we’re gonna say no, here’s a bunch of things here, find a way to find something that works best for you. Here are some things that are very easily at your beck and call.

And when you have options, there’s so much more you can do.

TR:
Real life style changes that affect the way we think about nutrition.

DD:
And that’s one of my goals in The Fight Back, is to change bad thinking.  The mother of 4 who works three  jobs with four kids and they have to run to McDonald’s because they  want those Happy Meals; I want to change the Happy Meal to a life meal.

TR:
Lifestyle choices are like adjusting to vision loss; it’s personal.

DD:
you do what you feel the most comfortable doing  and you work from that position. Everybody’s an individual about it. There’s no one magic thing for one person. There’s a lot of great things out there and I  am discovering those things to help  me accomplish doing other things. I’m very open to learning.

TR [In Conversation]:
What types of things are you discovering?

DD:
I have a phone I could talk to and it  speaks and dials  and talks to me.

The technology now is catching up. I believe like Netflix has where they actually have  a program that is designed so when you’re watching a program it describes everything so you get the full affect.
I’m discovering it one at a time but I don’t know the name of everything I just go wow that exists , that’s a good idea, that’s a really good idea.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
that’s Audio Description.

DD:
Yes.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
Just for full disclosure, I’m blind myself.

DD:
Oh, ok!

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
The experience is unique and different for everyone. So I’m trying to gauge what is your experience and how other people can relate and learn… whatever that is because that’s what experience is all about. There for everyone.
DD:
Exactly.

Well with me I understood simply when it was starting to happen  I said don’t panic.
I’ve become a person that reaches for solutions. And rather than falling into , oh my god I can’t believe this is happening  and go into depressed mode I said no  this may happen, this is what you may need to prepare to start doing. And I started preparing myself for it. I said you know what I said you know what  this may be, but darkness  won’t last forever. I said  you have God behind you  and God has already told you  this isn’t forever, this is to slow you down  this is just to make sure  that you can listen and hear what I have to say. And I started listening and hearing what he had to say  more than I started talking.

I embrace it. And in embracing it he has put me on a path  to help other people and to reach out and express myself not  just about the type 2 Diabetes not only about the blindness but  about when something goes on and there’s a struggle sometimes embrace your struggle to find your solutions.
It doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee for a cure or a guarantee to a perfect answer  but what it does is says you know what  I’m more than what’s going on with me.
I can also work with this.

If you have a good relationship with your family, friends and  other people and reaching out. I learn every day from so many different people  and I pay attention and I  try to pass on some of the knowledge of what I get  so that people can help themselves

TR:
The Fight Back is a give and take; a collaboration.

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
So what is The Fight Back, what does that look like? in the world. Is that like a  web portal

DD:
It’s going to be a website… we’re building as we speak because I didn’t want to just put something out there … like it’s easy to say we’re going to do that  and throw it out there and  people just think that’s it, that’s it… no so I said , first thing we’ll do  is I’ll go out and start talking , build different interviews up and now it’s starting to take different testimonials  from different people  and it’s attached to other situations  also , you know I’m working with  a friend of mind from a company called Rally Wing and they had family who had diabetes and their discussing stuff with me.

Another gentlemen by the name of Marvin Mizell who is Jam Master Jay’s brother  has a company called JMJ Foundation  for the youth. He has Sickle Cell and Diabetes so connecting with his thing. there’s a bunch of people that I have connected with  and I said you know what maybe I should be that focal point to bring people together. and see if we can actually work, not just to a cure and better treatments ,but to better understanding  and better conversations

So going out now and talking to different people and listening to what their saying  how they fought back
that’s what this fight back is all about.

Bring those stories to light.
Bring this action to light!
And be a little educational, be a little entertaining, be informative, and be supportive
That’s where the strength is!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Is the reality show still a thing?

DD:
We went out there we talked to different places, everyone was excited, yeh we want to do this, yes Dre we love it. And as more we kept talking, my idea disappeared and it became this other thing. It was like that’s not what we’re talking about .

I have a little experience in creating television programs.
We’re creating our own show. Creating our own messaging, making our own venue because the technology allows us to do this.

How do we take all these different instances and work together. Instead of just having a website, a page, you know do this  and get this. No, I want you to come on, I want you to see these different testimonials to be able to reach out to like you and to say hey I want you to talk to him because your experience can help some other people. Your conversation can help someone else who may be feeling down and go hey wow it isn’t as bad as I thought or it could be really bad so we’re going to try and reach out. Go see people shake hands, kiss babies, do whatever needs to be done. We’re going to run the ultimate campaign! The campaign of life of wellness and happiness. That’s a campaign where you just can’t be elected. there is no electoral college for that!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
[Laughing!!]

DD:
I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Don’t apologize for that. That’s real!
[Laughing!]

DD:
My things are based on love
People want to sit back and talk about this guys this and this one’s that. Hate, hate!
I said, you know what man, hate carries weight! With love you can soar!
And I got nothing but love man!

TR:
When the site is completed, you will be able to learn more at Doctor Dre TFB.com.

There’s a quote I like to refer to that’s attributed to a Greek philosopher or motivational speaker depending on who you believe…
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

Doctor Dre,  reacting with love
to make information more easily available , bring
health choices to the forefront,  create a place where
others can share their experiences, all while
remaining faithful and encouraging;

In this fight, there can be only one winner; nothing but love!

This is Thomas Reid, for Gatewave Radio;

Inserted from DD:
“Bring those stories to light. Bring this action to light! And be a little educational, be a little entertaining.”

Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Dre drop a load on em’, from “You down with MTV”]

TR:

Podcasts allow for longer exploration and intimate conversation.
In a way, I hinted to this in the Gatewave story edit.

There’s power in conversation between two people
exchanging knowledge about their shared experience.

Some things you really only feel comfortable talking about with someone who you know gets what you’re saying.
You don’t want to have to explain yourself.

The conversation could just be two people kicking around philosophical ideas.

often it’s , just talking about real practical sharing of information.
Like when Dre mentioned posting to Facebook:

DD:
One of my friends growing up he said I saw you on Facebook and I’m going how is he doing this? Isn’t he blind? And he’s like, he’s actually posting and doing this and that… I said, I have somebody doing that. The way I post is my son posts for me. He’ll put stuff up  that I need written or said or whatever we want to put on my Facebook page. So that’s fine. That’s how that works.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
You could do it yourself too you know right?

DD:
Please, I’m listening

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok so you have the iPhone and the app on the iPhone is , I mean it’s all accessible. It sounds like you mainly probably use Siri, the dictation?

DD:
Yes, I use Siri right now.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
So  you don’t use the keyboard at all, you never tried to use the keyboard?

DD:
No!  (Surprised!)

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Oh, you can absolutely. Do you have Voice Over turned on?

DD:
You know what,  I’ve been trying to go to the Apple store to sit there and have them explain everything that can be done , I do not probably have it turned on, no.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok!

TR:
Sometimes we assume that people are supposed to just know things…
Those who do, need to be more open and welcoming in order to make that information available.
At the same time remain open to receiving new ideas.

Three words that tell me Dre is going to be fine
no matter what the end result of his vision loss turns out to be;

DD:
“Please, I’m listening!”

TR:
Please, I’m listening!

Dre doesn’t know me.
He’s been around the world and has access to people and privilege.

DD:
Having reached out to people like Stevie Wonder.

TR:
Now, who am I to challenge something that Stevie says. I only say that because what Stevie means to me.

Adjusting to blindness though, is different from living with blindness all your life.

For example, I grew up only seeing out of one eye.
The challenge to me was different compared to someone who loses an eye
later in life and never had monocular vision.
I could share some information about things they should know,
but prior to blindness I wouldn’t have been able to relate to that loss.
That adjustment is the challenge. Growing up only knowing one thing is a different experience.

Meanwhile, I too could probably benefit from some of their discoveries.

Dre knows there’s so much more to learn and is open to that information for himself and others.

Our conversation though, went deeper.

Like when I wanted  Dre to know about an aspect of blindness
that is experienced and the ramifications that are felt by too many.

TR [In conversation with Dre]

We started the conversation with a little bit about  blindness and with the things people do and do not know, right. There’s all this technology, there’s so much you know going on and one of the big big issues  when it comes down to the blind community . The image of people who are blind in terms of how that’s perceived in society,  there’s a lot of negative connotation when it comes to blindness that I realized that I had and as I met other people  you know, blind at birth or blind afterward, there’s an incredible resource out here that is not being taken advantage of. So within the blindness community and within the disability community, unemployment is 70 percent.

DD:
Yes, it is!

TR:
So many people don’t even understand that. Even in just in terms of how people can do things and the abilities that are there it’s just not known. In part of what you’re doing you may not have or may have thought about it, you are going to be a representative  of that to some degree. Whether or not you like it or not, right, people are going to look at you and they now look you as he’s blind and therefore when they think of other people who are blind they will think of you. And so the things that you’re doing are going to send a positive message  not only to people who are sighted but also to other people who are blind who may have  bought into that.

I just ask you to ponder that, you know!

DD:
I hear what you’re saying. It’s very funny that you say those things. Funny not laughing wise, funny as it’s very interesting how we do that … I now the same way  I was put upon  and told do you believe you can get your sight back, I’m going to ask you those questions to… do you believe you can get your sight back?

TR:
Now, I had lots of people say they were hoping and praying I get my sight back, but
No one outside my immediate family has ever directly asked me that question.

I know a lot of people might think that question shouldn’t have been asked.
But it was part of our conversation so in no way was I offended or upset by that. This was a conversation between two people experiencing vision loss.

This isn’t some random person asking me on the street.

My answer and Dre’s response forced me to think about how I look at that question.

My answer… next time on Reid My Mind Radio!

[Laughing….]

Just playing!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Nah! My situation is totally different.

DD:
Mmm hmmm!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Number 1 my cancer is a genetic cancer. I was born  with a cancer called Retinoblastoma. I lost my left eye  as a child. The tumor overtook that eye.  I had at that time, this was in 68, well 69, radiat5ion. Thirty five years later that radiation caused another huge tumor  to grow in the back of my right eye and so I had no real choice because it was right on the optic nerve and so when it’s on that optic nerve, the next step is the brain So my choice was do I take that out  and live? Now mind you my wife was pregnant with our second child, we just moved from the Bronx to the Poconos in a house… so my right eye was removed.  There’s no coming back from that.

DD:
Ahh, yes.  You can’t get an eye transplant?

TR:
No, there’s no such thing as an eye transplant. The amount of nerves  that are in the eye  is unlike any place else. But that’s ok!  I didn’t have a choice and that’s ok, you know because I  my family, I have my little girls you know and so  my thing was like you  stepping back from the industry, my thing was I’m raising my girls you know. I’m a keep working and do whatever I can and be a  you know a help to other people  be a you know, productive member of society  and all of that and I can do that when I’m blind. I like to say the only thing I can’t do is drive.

DD:
Well that tells me a funny story that  I thrown out to Stevie Wonder about doing a movie I used to tell when I was doing interviews and I still do but know people go like you’re really going to do that and I said yeah I’m going to do that. I was being interviewed and they said Dre you gonna do any more movies and I said yeah I’m going to do movies. I said right now I’m in conversation with Stevie Wonder , we’re doing this movie called Just Drive the Damn Bus! And everyone fell out. They said for real. I said yeah and in that movie you’re going to see  Stevie and I drive the bus.

TR:
Uh huh!

DD:
They were like, how are you going to do that?  I said that’s the point, you gotta see the movie. And I was joking about it right?And then I started working with  one of my partners and we started  coming up with a concept of the movie and  it was like, this could work. I said, it’s a movie! I said, but do you understand what would happen and he said  but how are you guys going to act in the movie? I said  the same way other people act  in a movie, you hit your mark, you say your lines you keep moving, that’s not an issue.

TR:
Right.

DD:
Stop making an issue of a non-issue.  And then I told, a matter of fact I told  I was talking to LL Cool j and I told him about it and he  fell out laughing. He said you’re serious. I said I’m dead serious, your gonna do that.
I don’t walk around with dark glasses on. My son says Dad put the glasses on  stop walking around… I said no people need to see my eyes the way they are. So what, it doesn’t matter.
I say this to say this to you. We may not know the technology that will exist to help you gain sight when you need it, but I believe in my heart with what you just told me and what just trinkled through me is you and I our meeting is not coincidental  and I can’t promise this, but I just have this feeling  in my gut you’re gonna get your sight, because you need to see your kids.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Exhales!]

DD:
I know you’re saying, how can that be done? I don’t know. I don’t have that answer yet. That answer may come next year, that may come in five years, we don’t know. When I put those goals in front of me  it gives me something to shoot for. Reality or not, that’s why I say  that thing about the movie,  just drive the damn bus… Bill said, you are nuts, you’re outta you… I said no I’m not. I said because we can do anything if you put your mind to it.  Remember seeing Star Trek the Next generation

TR [In conversation with Dre]

yeah, yeah, with Jody…

DD:
LaVar Burton! He put on a visor and  he could see. But when he went to do the movies  LaVar didn’t want that visor on his face they pulled it off and put something on his eyes…we don’t know what’s coming!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Right!

DD
Now if I could get in a DeLorean and go sixty years forward and grab it and pull it back  and say here put this on it works

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Laughing….]

DD:
I don’t know!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

Right, right!

DD:
But we’re back to what the Fight Back is all about, choices!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

What you just said  helped me because the obstacles in front of me are not  necessarily just based on sight. And that goes into a really deeper conversation, but when you said  you get something from  that, there’s no way  I would want to take that away from you!

TR:
I’m not a dream killer and never want to be that!

Believing in the ability to regain sight doesn’t mean  not believing in the abilities of people who are blind.

Often though, that seems to be the message we hear from different organization in their fight against blindness.

The NY Times a few weeks ago ran an article with the headline;
The Worst that Could Happen? Going Blind, People Say
The article itself discussed some of the fears, and ways to prevent or slow
certain types of eye diseases, but
it did nothing to help ease that fear for
those who are facing  that in their present or future.

That’s not cool!

They only looked at vision loss from the medical perspective  ,
prevent the disease and there’s no longer an issue!

But there’s the society side!

That fear is what leads to people not wanting to in anyway associate themselves with blindness.
That fear and miseducation leads to that 70 percent unemployment.

But Dre’s not saying that.
His approach appears to be inclusive, holistic as in a full picture.

He’s straight up keeping his options open
I can support that!

Let’s do some shout outs!

First of all Doctor Dre,
thank you brother for the conversation,
for the courage and willingness to bring options to the people!
I hope to hear more about the Fight Back in the near future.

These next two shout outs come with a recommendation…
Audio: The Cipher Show theme[]

If you are a hip hop fan and like to hear background stories
from artists, journalists and those on the business side…
you need to check the cipher show.
Host Shawn Satero was kind enough to help make this interview happen.

It’s one of my favorite podcasts.

At least once every episode you will hear a person being interviewed say, Wow, you really did your research!”

you’ll hear it at least once an episode which lets you know it’s a quality show.

Shout out to Shawn and the Cipher show!

Shout out to Bill Adler who helped coordinate this with Dre.
BTW, Sir, please continue producing that Christmas  Mix Tape,
my daughter and I look forward to that Cipher episode each year.
No comments folks, I like the different cultural Christmas music and I ain’t ashamed to say it!

If your listening right now on Sound Cloud hit that follow button.
You can subscribe  via any podcatcher on your phone or tablet,
Apple, Android it doesn’t matter we’re outchere!

We’re on Stitcher and Tune In.

Got feedback?
Hit me at reidmymindradio@gmail.com … Remember Reid, is R E I D.

Thanks for listening!

Peace!

Hide the transcript

 

Reid My Mind Radio – Who is Joe Capers

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
A picture of Joe Capers, an African American man seated on a couch staring into the camera with sunglasses!

Joe Capers

En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone and more musical artists from Oakland could help answer this question. In this  episode we meet two gentlemen creating a documentary that will help others do the same.

The second part of today’s podcast explores Hip Hop from two angles you may have not known existed.
* Krip Hop Nation, an international network for artists with disabilities.
* Hip Learning,  using the rap element of Hip Hop to help children learn science and more!

So stop what you’re doing
Prepare to hear the words they say
The only way to do it…
Press on the button that says Play!

… Oh snap, #Bars son!


Subscribe & Follow


Resources

  1. Alternative Minds
  2. Krip Hop Nation
  3. The Best of Krip-Hop Nation on CD Baby

4. Hip Learning

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s good family!
Happy Black History Month to everyone…
even if you don’t feel that’s something you celebrate or even really acknowledge.
The simple truth, if you are on this planet,
chances are great that you have been impacted by African American people. There’s so much from the world of invention, science and culture. An unfortunately, that’s not discussed during the other 11 months of the year.

Today’s episode includes a recent piece for Gatewave Radio that shows how sometimes people are like pieces in a puzzle. If one piece is missing, that full puzzle can never be complete.

Following the Gatewave piece you will hear more from two brothers who in their own way are expanding Black history. And ,  making sure we know, that includes people with disabilities.

Are You ready?
[Audio: “I know you’re gonna dig this!”]
[RMMRadio Intro]

[Audio Mix: “En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone, Digital Underground and MC Hammer!]
TR:
Today, the question, Who is Joe Capers?

In the 1980’s and 90’s  artist’s like , En Vogue,
Tony Tony Tony,
Digital Underground,
MC Hammer
all had a few things in common.
They all were based in Oakland,
each made their way to the top of the charts
and Joe Capers.

In order to find out who is Joe Capers,
I spoke with two gentlemen from California’s Bay Area.
First up, Leroy Moore, originally from the east coast, raised in Connecticut and New York City.

LM:
I’m an activist, journalist and author. I also started what’s called Krip-Hop Nation with a K. It’s an international network of musicians with disabilities. My disability is Cerebral Palsy. I had it since birth.

I found out about Joe Capers when I was doing radio. KpFA out here  in Berkley. They had a radio show about people with disabilities. Joe Capers was blind African American man here in Oakland in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He had one of the first accessible home studios at that time.
TR:
That’s a full recording studio in the basement of his home. All sorts of Oakland artists from MC Hammer to En Vogue and others you may have never heard of recorded at Joe’s studio

Leroy learned of another person who could help further answer the question… who is joe capers?

Naru:
I got a call from Leroy one day, he said “Naru you knew Joe Capers?” I was like yeah Joe?

TR:
Meet Naru Kwina , an Oakland California  based artist and teacher. .

Naru:
Joe was just the coolest guy with the biggest smile.
Joe played the base, the drums the keyboards so he was a master musician.

TR in conversation with Naru:
Was Joe doing more of the production? Was he just kind of the studio owner? What was he actually doing?
***

Naru:
Listen brother! His studio was called “J-Jams Studio: Joe did everything.  He had his mix board in Braille. He recorded, he engineered he mixed, he produced. He did everything that you could every possibly do in the studio. And he had the greatest ear I have ever been around and I’ve  been doing music over 40 years of my life. If you had one note or one little thing off he knew and he would call you on it. You know because he was blind you thought you’d  get away with stuff.

TR:
Joe was a professional and  demanded that those  in his studio acted the same. Naru, who is also a rapper, and went by the name Quick back then, recalls the time when Joe instructed him to memorize his lyrics and not use written notes in the recording booth.

Naru:
I’m in the booth one day and I had my little paper… like nah he ain’t gonna know… [laughs] he was like bruh, I could hear the paper rattling in the booth. And he sent me home. He sent me home and told me not to come back until I knew my lyrics.

So he was really dedicated to the music and that dedication is still with me and when I started having my own studio and production I always said nope don’t come in here with no paper, learn your lyrics.
[Laughs] So I got that from Joe!

TR:
Learning more about Joe, Leroy was surprised others didn’t know him.

LM:
Oh my god, this man needs to be recognized in Oakland because he really changed the Oakland sound of Hip-Hop and Soul.

TR:
During that conversation between Naru and Leroy the idea was sparked.

Naru:
When I said you know somebody outta do a film about Joe, he [Leroy] said why don’t you do it. I said man, I’m not a film maker man… he said but  yeah you know people. Reluctantly, I took that upon myself.

TR:
there’s lots involved in the process.

Naru:
I just contacted people who had cameras, mics and I had to contact all the artists. I literally probably have  6 or 7 hours of interviews. Everybody from MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Dwayne Wiggins from Tony tony Tone and other people who just knew Joe on a personal level or recorded with Joe… who were closer with Joe. Some of the more interesting interviews are from people you would never heard about who Joe touched in a particular  way. I could just say that he’s still here with us because all the people he touched and how many people still  think about Joe.

TR:
What began as a 15 minute documentary about the career of Joe Capers has morphed into much more. Running his own studio known as J-Jams wasn’t solely a business venture. This was back in the error when recording music professionally required significant investment.
Large studios charged hundreds of dollars an hour for studio time.

Naru:
Joe was changing like between $20 or $25 an hour r. The quality of sound was on par with anything coming out of these big studios. Joe knew the music that we were doing.  He understood it better than some of the engineers who were  in these big studios who were used to . doing rock music or folk and country. Joe  understood the R&B  and the Hip-Hop… the need for that bottom.

TR:
While the music might be about that base, for Joe it included the chance to offer help and encouragement.

Naru:
He was also a teacher. He would take young kids off the street from time to time. Some people were actually living with him. He would teach young kids  to engineer. Pretty much gave at least  two people I know roofs over their heads until they got their act together. They might have been out doing some street business and he didn’t really want that.  So he was trying to teach people another way to make money and be successful.

LM:
Joe Capers taught newly blind people independent living skills.

TR:
Making a documentary takes a lot of patience and research. It also takes creativity. Not only in the traditional sense as in the filming and writing, but also in the approach to resolving real  challenges that inevitably arise.

In order to make up for a lack of video footage of Joe and artists in the recording studio, original animation is being incorporated into the film.

And I am pleased to report that plans are included for audio description, making the film more accessible to those with vision loss.
When complete the film will be distributed by way of local public television, online, film festivals and live screenings.
Events developed around the release of the film will include a live concert focusing on emerging artists including those with disabilities. The concert will be an annual event taking place in August. in Oakland, this now has significant meaning.

Naru:
I wouldn’t say we, I helped but Leroy was the most instrumental…

LM:
Every August is now Joe Capers month in Oakland. That’s the first  Black Disabled man that’s been recognized  by the city of Oakland.

TR:
Here’s how you can help contribute to the success of this film

Naru:***
I’m working on some more funding  right now that’s why  it’s slow going. Everything’s been like a labor of love  out of my pocket. And Leroy put some money in as well.

I have a nonprofit, it’s called Alternative Minds Foundation and so all our stuff is going through there with this film. It’s a 501-3C so everything is a tax write off for people who want to do that.

LM:
www.alternative-minds.com

Naru:
And just later on just telling people about it when it comes out. That’s probably the best way you could help spread the word.

TR:
It sounds like these two are the right   choice for telling Joe’s story.
Leroy, through his work with Krip Hop nation, an international network of musical artists including
rappers, dj’s, producers, dancers, spoken word artists and others, all with disability; have already presented an award in recognition of Joe’s contributions. This award was presented to his family in Georgia.

Naru who had a personal relationship with Joe, while not as familiar with blindness, did gain what some may see as a simple lesson, but in fact is one that advocates have spent a life time trying to convey.

Naru:
My understanding about a person who was blind  is very limited and probably very skewed. Being around Joe was very refreshing. He was just a regular person, did regular things. Loved to joke and laugh, play tricks on you  and all of that stuff. He was just like we say, a regular Oakland Cat!
[Laughter fades out]

TR:
This is Thomas Reid,

LM:
Oh my God, this man needs to be recognized.

for Gatewave Radio.
Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Taken from Rap Battle on MTV
“There’s no charity in a rap battle!”, Sway]

TR:
The first time I thought about Hip Hop and disability was just prior to me losing my sight.  It was the fall of 2003, I believe it was MTV2 who was airing a rap battle. One of the contestants included young rapper by the name of Blind Fury.  I remember thinking his opponent was corny. He got stuck on the blind and disregarded the fury.

Blind Fury by my account was indeed better and should have won that battle.  He was more lyrical,
had a method for finding out visual details about his opponents and  he had multiple flows.  I realized the perception of Blind Fury’s talent was based on his disability.

Why would blindness limit the ability to rap? It’s vocal, what’s the big deal.
Yes, battle rap might require the ability to quickly gain information about your opponent, but Blind Fury was making that happen too.

Eventually Blind Fury took his place in history with his success on  BET’s 106 and Park’s Friday Freestyle.

[Audio: From Wild Style… “South Bronx Subway Rap”, Grandmaster Caz ]

The truth is people with disabilities have been involved with hip hop since its origins.

Leroy prior to his interest in rap was into rock and heavy metal.

LM:
Ozzie Osbourne, Metallica, ZZ Top…
***

TR:
He was then introduced to Rapper’s Delight, from the Sugar hill Gang.

[Audio: rapper’s Delight, Sugar Hill Gang]

LM:
Back then you bought the record and tried to learn all the lyrics.

This is gonna be cool!

At that time I had a walker . So picture me  with my walker going to the subway to the Bronx. Here I am this skinny guy with a walker and everybody around me has muscles,  break dancing and all that stuff.
I was just a writer back then . I dabbled in poetry.  I always told myself that I want to get in the cypher
TR:
If you’re not familiar  with the ciphers,  rappers would get together to rhyme  with one another. A time to test your newly written verse or maybe freestyle. Picture a circle of rappers passing the imaginary microphone to one another. It’s a meticulous process. You wait your turn. And you better be ready because you are going to get instant feedback on your 16 bars, or your verse. This is the place where you truly hone your skills.
While the ciphers were often about seeing who had the better skills, these
groups of mainly African American and Latino young men attracted the attention of the police.
Becoming more familiar with Leroy’s presence, he was soon declared “The  Watch Man”.

LM:
Because you’re disabled  you can watch out for the cops. The cops won’t do nothing to you . When the cops came  I used to yell you know, “po po”  and they used to scatter.  They’d just leave me there with my walker  and the cops used to get so pissed off.

TR:
Leroy played his position . He listened to more and more music.

LM:
When Run-DMC came out and did “Walk this Way”  and mixed rock with rap I was like alright this is it!

TR:
[Audio: It’s Like That, Run-DMC]

Right before I was scheduled to speak with Leroy, I read an interview he did with Daryl McDaniel’s better known as DMC of Run-DMC fame.

Now, when I heard [It’s Like That] as a young teenager, I lost my  [Censored Beep] mind!

TR in conversation with Leroy:
What was that like meeting DMC?

LM:
Oh my God, you know, I told him I grew up with you… he’s like no no we grew  up together!
For me it’s one of the highlights of my journalism career.

I saw that DMC had a book out about his depression. I also knew that back in I think the late 80’s he had a voice disability. I was like ok, DMC needs to know about Krip-Hop.

TR:
And more people need to know about Krip Hop.

In general, people are uncomfortable with disability. They don’t understand what to say to a person, how to act, maybe there’s some fear of even thinking about disability…
You know what I’m talking about because chances are you experienced it from at least one side or both.

Leroy never did participate in any of those early Bronx ciphers, but Hip Hop did get into him.

One important aspect of art and culture, is seeing yourself represented on the screen, on the canvas or stage and in the music.

As a black disabled man, that doesn’t happen that often.

LM:
My father had a huge Blues record collection and of course as we know Blues artists were blind… like Blind Willie Johnson.
[Audio: “It’s Nobody’s Fault but Mine”, Blind Willie Johnson]

My father liked Robert Winters. Robert Winters had Polio  and walked with crutches…
[Audio: “Magic Man”, Robert Winters]

Wow,  there’s disabled Black  men that do music!

I think it played a really big part of where I am today with Krip-Hop.

This year is our 10th Anniversary and we have loose chapters…

TR:
These include countries within Africa, the UK, Germany and Spain.

[Audio: “Tales of the Krip-Hop”, Rob da Noize Temple]

With the network formed by Leroy and co-founder Keith Jones, the two being disabled activists, the focus continues to be on education and advocacy.

LM:
So we saw Krip-Hop as a way to bring awareness around the history of disabled musicians from the Blues to Hip-Hop and really educate and to push the Hip-Hop arena  around Ableism thinking around disability and to really say that disabled musicians have been here since the Blues.

TR:
Krip Hop Nation produces live events featuring all sorts of artists with disabilities including; dj’s, emcee’s, spoken word artist, dancers and more.
They have put out 4 CD’s including their latest.

LM:
Our 10th Anniversary CD just came out on CDBaby.com. It has Wonder Mike  from the Sugar Hill Gang, DMC from Run-DMC.

TR:
Two names you are probably familiar with, but some might be new…like;

George Tragic
[Audio: “Industry Epidemic”, George Tragic]

Wheelchair Sports Camp

[Audio: “Hard out Here for a Gimp”, Wheelchair Sports Camp]

Toni Hickman
[Audio: “Cripple Pretty”, Toni Hickman]

Rap music and hip hop culture ironically was birthed to some degree from
exclusion and isolation.
Young kids from the South Bronx who  didn’t have access to much
including instruments so turn tables and beat boxing became its  replacements.
Barred from the downtown discos and night clubs; the community centers and parks became their place to party.

[Audio: “This Can’t Be Life”, Prinz D]

Hip Hop is a culture that created an outlet for expression.
It’s common themes consist of stories about overcoming adversity,
rebelling against  oppression, yet the disability experience goes mainly unheard.

Obviously this isn’t exclusive to rap ,
but this music with its infectious beats and rhymes is perfectly suited for Communicating all types of information with
the intention of educating.
Whether changing commonly held beliefs or getting young students to recall all types of information.

[Audio: “Hip Science”, Naru Kwina]

That’s where Naru saw a way to use his love for hip hop and combine it with his love of teaching.

While working as an assistant teacher he had the challenge of trying to teach science to kindergartners.

Naru:
The kids were like “uh!”

At recess I heard them all outside, they were singing this song off the radio; the lyrics were horrible. [Laughs…]
But, man, they knew the whole song….
And a lightbulb went off like huh!…
If I could turn these lessons into music like that and get these kids excited I wonder if they would learn these lessons like they learned that song?

So I did a series of songs  about the body and gave them to my students, the CD’s to the parents  to take home and listen to and then we did some in class. I mean they caught it so fast, it was amazing.

And so I was just using it in class and people kept telling me you need to market  this… you need to do this you need to do  that…
I ended up applying for my first grant. It’s a grant called  the Creative Work Fund. It was a partnership with this organization called the African Scientific  Institute out here in Oakland. We got the grant. $35,000 grant. I was able to produce a play, the CD and pay a lot of people in my community as well to perform  and got other artist involved to  record with me. That’s about 10 years ago. I’m still doing it to this day. Outperforming , online sales. It became half of my career. I’m still an after school teacher but I do a lot of Hip Science. I enjoy it!

TR in conversation with Naru:
What was that reaction like from the other teachers? Were they cool with this or did you get any negative feedback from them?

Naru:
They were amazed. First of all I don’t think any of them knew I rapped. I don’t know why but I kind of kept that part of my life separate  from working with the children and never realized that was one of my strengths.
I should have been using it all along.
I never even thought it would be anything like that. I just wanted my kids to learn.

TR:
And it wasn’t just his kids that were learning.
Shortly after releasing the CD series he received a call from a company interested in the product.
Naru:
This company, it’s called Overbrook Entertainment and they wanted to buy [laughter] my whole business. I’m like what? I’m not selling my business. And it turns out that was Will Smith’s company. He was in town  in San Francisco  shooting the Pursuit of Happiness  and I don’t know how  he got my CD’s  but his kids were listening  to it. I never finished the negotiations because  they were talking about they wanted to have all the marketing … I wasn’t looking to sell. It was like  this  is my baby right here!

I was like wow, I know I’m doing something now if their trying to buy  my company man! [Laughs fade away…]

***

TR:
Doing something now, well that sounds like Naru’s default mode…
He creates music with his daughter who herself is a singer and rapper at the Oakland School for the Arts.

Naru:
Matter of fact, the first song she ever wrote with me  she was 3. It was called love is the thing It’s featured on Rosie O’Donnell Family is a Family documentary. We did a video for it and everything. It was real cool!

TR:
Over several summers, the two have written a book that’s now complete and he and his daughter are creating an accompanying soundtrack.

Naru:
It’s called Panela’s Journey. It’s a very fanciful tale of a young girl who’s struggling with her identity  in the world and  her place in the world and wondering why the world is the way it is. She seeks refuge in a fanciful place.
That  one should be coming out soon as well. We’re gonna have some augmented reality, apps that go along  with the book.

TR:
Continuing to put out his own music, his latest project should be out soon.

Naru:
Naru and Strong Soul and we are The Living Room Legends!

TR:
I have some links on the blog… Reid my mind .com if you want to check out more on both Leroy and Naru.

Salute to both of these brothers for the good work their doing, truly expanding the culture.

I don’t know about you but I feel like I have to start producing some    more content!

n that note, make sure you subscribe to this podcast.
Go to your podcast app of choice and search for Reid My Mind Radio… that’s R E I D.
You can also follow me on Sound Cloud soundcloud.com/t-Reid.

[Audio: RMMRadio Theme]
Thanks for listening.

Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio – Who is Girl Gone Blind

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

This episode features the latest Gatewave Radio piece answering the question; Who is the Girl Gone Blind?
Immediately following the piece, check out what happens when I run with a bit of inspiration from something I heard in my conversation with Maria Johnson, aka, A Girl gone Blind.

Picture of Maria Johnson

If you haven’t yet, make sure you Subscribe to RMM Radio bit.ly/RMMRadioSubscribe
– In the meantime, hit the Play button below!

 

Resources:

 

*Girl Gone Blind
*Girl Gone Blind on Twitter
*Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy

 

Transcript

TReid:
What’s good everybody, it’s me T to the R E I D!

I’m feeling good today and that’s by choice not by circumstance… let that marinate.
And in this latest episode of Reid My Mind Radio I’m featuring a piece I did for Gatewave Radio…

Check this out!

[RMMRadio Intro]

TReid:
Going blind is a real challenge.
Different for anyone who goes through the experience. It involves adjustments for almost every aspect of a person’s life.
Education, Employment mobility and independence.

Today you will meet someone sharing some of her experiences online, on the internet via her blog.

 

TReid:
Girl Gone Blind, is Maria’s space on the internet, her blog where she’s been sharing experiences, observations and information about her life as a, well, girl who has gone blind.

Her story begins in April 2013.

MJ:
I was working as a fitness instructor. I was working at three different locations and I was also running my own Boot Camp as well as doing the mom things – running around taking my kids everywhere you know volunteering and all that stuff. And I noticed there was a blurry spot in one of my eyes but I didn’t really think too much about it cause I was busy and After a month or two it really wasn’t going away.

TReid:
TReid
With no changes in her vision, she sought an answer.
Multiple optometrist, ophthalmologists ; all trying different tests…
MJ:
… many scans, MRI’s spinal taps, steroid treatments, they could not figure out what was wrong. I was completely healthy except there was a problem with my optic nerve.
>

TReid: Finally, she found a neuro Ophthalmologist who tested her DNA. In September 2013 Maria was diagnosed with LHON.

MJ:
Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. It is a mitochondria mutation that is passed down from the mother’s side. When the mutation is triggered you start to lose central vision. It can spread into the peripheral a bit, but most of the time your peripheral is saved.

Treid:
Within a month of receiving the diagnosis, Maria was legally blind.
Her response?!

MJ:
Ok, Now what?

TReid in conversation with Maria:
So you started experiencing vision loss and then you decide three months later you know what, I’m going to do this in public! [Laughter from both]

MJ:
Yeah, I know right!

TReid in conversation with Maria:
What made you do that?

MJ:
I thought about righting a blog previously as a health and fitness Guru if you will, but I never did. And so I always had that little bug in me I think.
When my vision loss came to a point where I had to deal with it, I thought you know maybe I should write about this?
Come January I basically wrote about what I’ve been going through and what actually was going on with my vision and what it was called.
I remember clicking publish and thinking uh [exhale] my gosh I hope, I hope somebody reads this. Well I got the hugest response. Positive response on this blog and people loved it!
They loved it and they were appreciative of my vulnerability and my openness to share what had been going on with me over almost the last year. I got the bug right then and there and said you know what I’m going to keep going with this because people like it.

TReid:
There’s no one size fits all plan for adjusting to blindness.
Chances are if a person is losing their vision and seeks assistance, they will learn of the vision rehabilitation system. For those fortunate enough to receive services, it would include personalized training to aid that person to remain as independent as possible.
That can mean getting back to work or school, learning how to perform all of the tasks they once did like cooking, traveling using a computer and more.
Maria figured out what she needed to go through the process.

MJ:
I realized I needed to get my head wrapped around this whole “I’m now blind” thing!
Before I could even attempt to figure out how I was going to you know cook or you know knit or [giggles] all the other things they wanted to teach me.
I thought I need to get my head wrapped around this. I actually need therapy, and I need counseling.

TReid:
Counseling to help work through the barrage of both feelings and thoughts about the loss not only of her sight, but all that comes with that;
her independence, her perception of herself, trying to figure out what it means to be blind.
Loss, is painful!

MJ:
I would lay on my bed you know crying and crying and crying and think [uh, gasp] how am I going to be a good blind parent?
How am I going to be the mom that I was.
How am I going to be the mom that I expect myself to be?

[Soft sad piano music]

MJ:
I honestly was planning on how I was going to exit this world.
And when I would do it.

MJ:
I thought, but you know I can’t leave my kids.

MJ: So I actually did therapy and group therapy weekly for about a year and a half. It helped me to know that all of my thoughts and feelings were totally normal. The things I was doing to propel myself forward everyday were the right things.
I will rank therapy as the number one thing that has helped me adjust to this new life.

TReid:
In addition to the emotional, Maria was trained in orientation and mobility.

I assumed Maria was proficient with technology and probably received training in either magnification or screen reading software.
So I had to ask about something I read on one blog post.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
You use dictation. Is that still your choice of input?

MJ:
It is, it is, it is.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Do you do any keyboarding?

MJ:
Ok, here’s the back story on all of that!
alright, so I was always a pretty good typist when I was sighted.
Then I’m telling you Thomas, when I lost my vision and I could not see my keyboard any more….

[Fades out and Narration over MJ…]
>
TReid:
I am a big proponent of technology for all. Especially people with disabilities.
In some sense I’m an Access Technology evangelist…
I’ll tell anyone who will listen about the benefits it affords to people with vision loss or other disability.
I’m also a strong believer in the need to be proficient enough with a keyboard if physically possible
in order to have maximum control over your technology.

I did give Maria a bit of a hard time about her reliance on dictation.
But I’m not judging her!

Judgement, that’s one of the things that’s scary about
sharing personal stories.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Have you regretted anything you published?

MJ:
I’ve made it a real point to keep it to just my own experiences. What I’ve been through. The good the bad and the ugly and the and the crazy , the funny, but then you know there’s nothing to regret.

TReid:
So is keeping an online journal helpful to the adjustment process?

MJ:
I think where it helped me is I was able to put my emotions and my story out there and I knew inside that maybe it would help somebody else either relate or understand what I was going through. And on the other hand, I do feel it hindered me a bit because I was drumming up all these emotions that were really quite difficult for me.

TReid:
Girl Gone Blind has lead Maria to other outlets

MJ:
I knew that if I wanted to start making something of Girl gone Blind I probably needed to get on Twitter and I needed to start reaching out to all of these other avenues. And that’s where RNIB Connect Radio discovered me.
Now I do a weekly segment for them ; chatting with Girl Gone Blind as a Lifestyle Blogger. We talk about different issues and different situations that we encounter.
I also do a podcast, we call it the LHON Report. We do interviews with people in the LHON community and we also talk about our experiences.
This has turned into this wonderful place that I have set myself in and I absolutely love doing it and it’s so weird for me to say that I love what I do and it’s all because I lost my vision.
It’s been a crazy three years but I’m headed to a good place I just know I am and I’m just going to keep that arrow pointed that way and see where it goes.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Sounds like a great plan

MJ:
Oh And I’m going to learn how to type Thomas…

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Yes! Yeah!

MJ:
Giggles… Goals, Blind goals.

TReid:
There it is! Hash tag Blind Goals. (#BlindGoals)

[Laughter from both and MJ claps her hands!… audio fades out]

TReid:
Maria Johnson is journaling her way through her adjustment to blindness. She’s a girl gone blind, but she’s not traveling alone.

She’s inviting those with LHON , those experiencing vision loss and others to ride along. Hopefully relate to the experiences and maybe even be inspired to continue on their own paths.

Remember that thing about Maria not using the keyboard?
The truth is Maria didn’t let that become an excuse for not starting or maintaining her blog.

She held on to three words that she says can help her through most things…

MJ:
IGotThis! That was my mantra. I got this!

For more on Maria?

MJ:

My website is girlgoneblind.com.
I’m on Facebook at Girl gone Blind
and on Twitter a@Girl_Gone_Blind
And on Instagram @GirlGoneBlind.

TReid:
I’m Thomas Reid

[MJ: It is, it is, it is!]

TReid:
for Gatewave Radio,
[MJ: Ok, now what?]

TReid:
audio for independent living!

Following the Gatewave story, I included a “song” created using Maria’s words specifically “I got this”.