Dance For Love is a movement, it is a non-politically affiliated body of individuals working towards a world wherein humanity comes first. We are a group but we are also very different people working for a common goal. Today we’re going to take a look at one of our recent addition to the team: Caroline Hammar.
Carro and I met a few hours before our weekly DFL meetings at a local cafè/bookstore. I skipped gleefully in as Carro stumbles upon a low bench, we took our seats next to the window and proceeded in ordering a beverage of choice. I had tea, she had an iced latte.
Soon after we dove straight into discussing what we had came there for…
Stockholm is a society which has been considered a ‘champion of multi-culturalism’ and has always been a front header when it comes to discussions on equality and diversity. In many ways, this country served as examples of what a progressive nation should look like, tackling issues which would otherwise be taboo.
There is always room for improvement however, just because the city still is one of the front contenders in medical technology, healthcare, and education, it does not mean we can rest on our laurels!
Accessibility in Stockholm still proves to be a problem for many who require it. Many places in the old town are still inaccessible and expenses for necessary extra assistance still cost a fortune. More importantly; the lack of awareness of the common folk still remains an obstacle.
Caroline has a form of genetic ocular dystrophy in the cone cells. Cone cells are photoreceptors responsible for the central vision as well as color-identification segment of the eye. (dystrophy) means that the condition is degenerative and gets worse over time. As of today, Carro’s vision is limited to the corners of the usual visual periphery. Any vision in the central part of her spectrum has long since been impaired. At 25, she has less than 9% of her vision left.
“I have a disability, I am not disabled..” she said laughingly
When we encounter someone with a disability, that disability turns into that person’s identity. It’s always i.e (Johan the one who can’t walk, blind Tim…etc)
Anything that deviates from being a Caucasian male in his 20s automatically gets tied up to a person’s identity. Caroline is a professional contemporary dancer with a gymnastic background. “From when I was younger, I’ve always found ways to conceal the truth about my eyesight in order to avoid drawing unwanted attention so I used to always try to be in the very front of the dance classes to be able to see what the instructor was doing”.
Fearing that peers would associate her with her eye condition rather than for who she is, she has done well in keeping a low tab about it. “Whenever I feel that it is absolutely NEEDED for me to inform people about it, I still weigh out the pro’s and con’s”
There are many, unlike Carro, who are not able to hide their deviant characteristics. If I can’t walk, people will see it. If I do not share the same skin color as everyone else, I’m recognized. If I were a woman in a construction site, I’ll stick out.
There is nothing wrong with sticking out, but sticking out due to something that is a default characteristic makes one feel like a circus freak in the 1950s. It’s 2014 and we have, as a society, outgrown that fragment in our history. We’re better than that now, and more importantly, we have the ability to communicate and learn from one another.
After a lengthened discussion about disabilities, politics, and life, we took one last sip from our drinks and left the shop to go to the meeting. I sped past the door and she followed soon after, now aware of the presence of the low bench. (Carro: 1, Bench: 1)