The news media has recently presented the story of Ricci vs. DeStefano, a case involving Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonya Sotomayor, which raised some questions involving racial justice and persons with learning disabilities. Plaintiff and Firefighter Frank Ricci has a diagnosis of dyslexia. While the court decision related to all of the news recently found in favor of the all-white Firefighters who had performed the best on the tests, Mr. Ricci has become a champion for persons with disabilities because of his commitment to studying and the prep books he read through audio tapes.
I find Mr. Ricci's efforts to be highly admirable. Not only did he complete his duties as a Firefighter, he went through extraordinary efforts to pursue the testing, finishing sixth on the exam - despite his disability. Frank Ricci is very much the champion this article describes:
The case leaves me with a dilemma in my mind; I am a person with disabilities, but I also understand that when it comes to a job that deals with such serious levels of safety, the public wants those who have demonstrated the best ability through testing on the job. Do I support the society of Persons with Disabilities of which I am a part? Or do I support the need to have the most qualified personnel? With a son-in-law who is a Firefighter, this dilemma is not made any easier.
The decision by the Supreme Court in favor of the all-white Firefighters who tested highest was one that did not present a diversity perspective, or support of the same. One of the statements I have heard repeatedly from people with disabilities is that we want to be treated the same as anyone else. I have also witnessed abuse of both of these perspectives. It would always be my first option to find in favor of diversity; however, in this instance I believe that the Supreme Court made the right decision - as much as it leaves a wry flavor in my mouth.
Mr. Frank Ricci has set an example for his fellow persons with disabilities, but more importantly, he has set an example that every single employer and citizen in America and around the world needs to be aware of. There are many people in the world who have a form of disability that are more than just, 'capable,' of doing the jobs they want to. There are many people with disabilities that can thrive in the positions they seek to perform. In fact - many times we are the ones who set the example for everyone else; disabled or non-disabled.
I understand that the big news involves the case that Sonya Sotomayor was involved in. I know why the media was all over it. Still - it is my opinion that the media should also have been presenting Mr. Frank Ricci with equal gusto. The very diversity that America has been so fascinated with where the case of these Firefighters is concerned has been right under their noses, with Mr. Frank Ricci.