The mentally challenged, America’s newest minority

Edwin J. Viera, Columnist

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A few months ago, something happened that destroyed the sacred bond of friendship between nine people, and would keep that bond shattered, quite possibly forever.

My friend, Emily, started dating a very mean man. He was arrogant, rude, and unknown to us, a racist!

Much to my horror, I couldn’t believe the way she was falling all over him at the birthday get-together we were having for her. After that, something strange happened in the group.

I noticed that a new Facebook message group called “Getting Out of a Hole” appeared on my phones notifications.

It was so late at night that I waited until the morning to read it. Once I had my body’s daily dose of caffeine, I finally read the messages and was horrified to find that my friends were trying to abandon a girl we all know named Victoria.

It turned out that she had a slight learning disability and they wanted to cut ties with her. I’m familiar with this because my sister has a mild form of autism as well.

What I’m not familiar with is trying to distance yourself from a person because they have a mental disease that won’t harm you.

I pleaded with them and made my argument strong for them to understand how foolish they were being but to no avail. So I left the group and didn’t speak to them for week, but a few weeks later, it happened.

Victoria found out what was going on after she was accidentally added into the group that discussed her social demise. The only words I could think of when I saw what was happening were “I told you so!”

Our entire life of friendliness fell apart right there, and soon our dynasty of friendship was in ruins.

In the heat of the moment, I scrambled to think about what happened, I started to think more about the mentally challenged, and how their voice in certain issues may get lost. Have we allowed the mentally challenged to be oppressed by people, or are they under represented?

When it comes to the mentally challenged and their place in society, have they become the next minority?

One key factor that makes them a minority is that there aren’t that many of them. Only 6.2 to 7.5 million Americans have a mental disease. The country contains a whopping 318.9 million people according to census.gov.

While the numbers are alarmingly small; they aren’t the prime cause for the slow transformation of this social group. This is mainly due to the amount of groups founded to support the mentally challenged. It’s a mystery, but solving it wasn’t that hard.

Not too many people know what exactly mentally challenged people are like. Sometimes all they get is information from their surroundings, which may or may not be accurate. This lack of education on the subject allows them to slip through the cracks and thus the entire group becomes lepers of society. The utter madness is what semi-ruined our friendships.

The mentally challenged aren’t always misunderstood, though.

In the year 1988, Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman showed how difficult it may be when you are immersed into the world of autism in the film “Rain Man.” It’s this kind of acting that makes me wonder why Tom Cruise doesn’t have an academy award yet, oh well.

Unfortunately, the mentally challenged have become the next minority for America, but they have also become a world minority. The population of the mentally challenged in the world is 785 million according to a study done in 2011. That’s just a measly fifteen percent of the world’s 7.3 billion people.

Another social group has been cast into the land of the minorities. While this is a series of unfortunate events it’s through a societal lack of knowledge that has pushed the mentally challenged into being a minority.

I guess the next big question is, what group will be the next minority?

email: viera.record@outlook.com

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