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The following is a guest post from Emily Jacobs, a student at Muhlenberg College. It is a college essay inspired by her sister Molly that she submitted and we are excited to share as another inspiring example of one person’s ability to make a difference. Enjoy.

Small Victories
by Emily Jacobs

Molly and Emily

Sisters Molly and Emily Jacobs.

I’ve always had a personal issue with the word “retard.” My sister Molly lives with an intellectual disability, a condition that used to be called mental retardation. There are many online sites devoted to mocking the intellectually disabled, but one series of YouTube videos proved particularly troubling. Although I wanted to believe that hatred towards the intellectually disabled had become obsolete, these videos exposed me to a cruel reality, one that I had no choice but to combat.

“Retard Mechanic” features Donald, an intellectually disabled man who works as a janitor in an auto repair shop. Donald is videotaped by his co-workers who humiliate him daily. They attach his finger to jumper cables and have him emulate screaming noises for the camera. Worse, they pay him a dollar in quarters for his compliance; when Donald’s performance isn’t up to par, they tell him he is only “giving them ten cents worth of retard.” They force him to lift his shirt while they criticize his physique, taunt him by waving money in his face, and steal his dustpan so that he can’t work. Donald is unaware that his co-workers are victimizing him.

Something about this man’s vulnerability struck a chord in me. Watching Donald, I fast-forwarded 25 years and pictured Molly working a job where she considered her co-workers friends while they saw her as fodder for their cruel pranks. Donald’s mistreatment was an indirect affront to all people with intellectual disabilities, and so I decided to do something about it.

The videos of Donald showed little visible evidence of where he worked. I scrutinized each clue from the videos and found that I was looking for a Mazda dealership in California. Since many of the videos were shot outside I was able to spot passing trucks with the area code 415. Thanks to Google maps, I found the street address of the specific dealership, complete with the same buildings that served as the backdrop of Donald’s humiliation.

Yet I still had reservations. As a teenager, would the manager of the Mazda dealership take me seriously? Did I want the workers fired for their abuse or did I want them to be educated? I knew I couldn’t have both. Firing them wouldn’t change the world for Donald or Molly; it might make their antagonists more hateful. My hope was that these workers would start to see Donald as a human being and treat him accordingly.

It was at this point that I asked my mother to call the dealership. After watching the videos, the manager’s initial disbelief quickly dissipated and he promised to identify the perpetrators. He also promised to remove the videos from the internet and provide sensitivity training for his employees. Finally, he told my mother that Donald had recently passed away. There are two new employees with intellectual disabilities working at the dealership and the manager vowed to provide a safe working environment for them.

Though it was too late for me to make the world a better place for Donald, I take comfort that future employees will enjoy the dignity and respect to which he was never afforded.

By doing my part to increase awareness about intellectual Disabilities, I’d like to think I made a difference for the Donald’s and Molly’s of this world. And while I realize that equality is a far cry away, I hope these small victories along the way take us in the right direction.

23 thoughts on “Small Victories

  1. Just saw that incredible story about ur hard work to champion the cause for all of us to fight for equality for all. Keep up your voice to get the. R word and. Bullying to go. Bye. Bye

    • Since you are so much about being politically correct, I know just to condone political correctness, & that way to condone political correctness is by condoning someone stabbing you with a butcher knife, where that person see to it that they murder you with that butcher knife, & i can condone that being done against you, because that is the only thing that I can think of being politically correct!

  2. Emily–
    You did make the world a better place for Donald by changing the people around him and making his humiliation be not in vain. I love this story, Emily. It made me cry. Pete Farrelly

  3. Special Olympics is bullshit, and I will tell you that it’s all about how someone has to be so concerned about how someone’s personal feeling get hurt over all these so called intellectual disabilities, because the term intellectual disability can mean anything!

  4. I have a son with disabilities and you have done more than most , This shows you are truely a warrior for your sister and others like her, job well done. Thanks for not letting this go it will only help others to think twice and act. You are truely a blessing from above. Hope more will show the courage you have. GOD BLESS!

  5. God gave you a special sister and a special gift….standing up for what is right no matter the cost. You absolutely did the right thing to put it out there that someone so vulnerable was being treated so cruely. I would have done the same thing in heartbeat. The world needs strong people with good hearts and you are a blessing to your sister as much as she is a blessing to you. I have a 13 year old son with Williams Syndrome and he is my blessing. Keep up the great work! God bless you!!

  6. Emily and Molly Rock! Crowns in heaven for the both of you. You can believe that Donald is smiling down on you from above, until the day he hopefully gets to meet you face-to-face. This is how Christians are called to behave – too bad more people do not emulate your compassion. SO IMPRESSIVE!!

  7. Emily, what you tried to do for Donald was remarkable. If only more people cared as much. Good luck to you in your life, Molly is lucky to have you as a sister.

  8. Dear Emily,
    Wow! What a great article! Looks like you have a future in journalism! I’m sure that your Mom and Dad, and of course, Molly, are very proud of you! So am I! Love, Cousin Joey

  9. You are an absolute wonder Emily! As the mother of a son with Autism, I treasure individuals like you. Thank you for being such an awesome advocate. God Bless You!

  10. This story broke my heart. I can’t tell you how proud I am of you and what a great sister I think you are. I have a 20 month old grandson who has down syndrome. He has three older sisters, I hope they turn out to be as great of sisters as you are. Keep fighting for her.

  11. Emily, thank you for not just letting this go. Too often people don’t want to get involved, but you cannot end ignorance by remaining silent. Megan and my Amy and my students all wish there were more people with your courage.

  12. Thanks for standing up for all the people with disabilities I have 2 grandchildren who are disabled god has given them these disabilities because they are very special beings I’m sure people don’t realize while some part of them don’t function as well as they should there are other things these special people have their loving and caring personalities.They are people too and have feelings the same as we do. .

  13. Emily, that was no small victory! The ripple effect will be huge! Thank you for your courage and your character! It would have been easy to leave it alone but you did your part to change the world! Now your story inspires others! Thank you!

    • Dear Emily,
      I only wish there were more passionate people out there like you. Molly is a lucky young women to have you as her sister. You go girl!
      Love you,
      Julie

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