I’ve written before about how often celebrities seem ignorant about the realities of life with a disability (“What’s Up With Hollywood and the R-Word?”). I’m always eager to hear stories of families with individuals with Down syndrome, but I was particularly delighted to watch this video from Entertainment Tonight of Jamie Foxx with his sister De Ondra, who has Down syndrome. In Foxx’s words, “I don’t call it a condition. I call it living.” Spend two minutes watching, and it will make you smile. You might even call it living too.
I also watched “Glee” for the first time this week (I know, I know, I am utterly out of the cultural loop. We don’t even have a TV at the moment so I had to join my grandmother to watch it. She has Tivo). I watched it because I’ve heard there’s a teenager with Down syndrome on the show. She didn’t appear this week, but another character, Coach Sue, visited her sister with Down syndrome (or some other developmental disability?) in this episode. The episode centered around questions about God’s existence, and Coach Sue explained that she had stopped believing in God when people made fun of her sister in spite of her prayers. When she admits this to her sister, her sister simply smiles. She says, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” And then, as Sue is leaving, her sister asks, “Would you like me to pray for you, Sue?”
The episode demonstrates plenty of spiritual confusion–confusion over the laws surrounding church and state, confusion over what makes Christianity Christian (suffice it to say, one kid worships Jesus through a grilled cheese, and a visit to an African American church involves “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as the gospel number of the day). Sue’s sister was the only one who demonstrated any kind of spiritual maturity. She loved her sister without browbeating her. And her faith remained strong in spite of what Sue perceived as adversity. To watch the whole episode, click here
Thanks, Hollywood, for offering some perspectives on disability in general, and Down syndrome in particular, that go against the grain.