Zarifa Roberson
Zarifa Roberson

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1 in 4 U.S. adults – 61 million Americans – have an impediment that impacts major life activities. Types of impairment include mobility (walking or climbing stairs), sensory (hearing or sight impaired), and cognitive (concentration, remembering, or making decisions), and increasingly these conditions are impacting African Americans under the age of 50. While some are born with illnesses or develop them in early childhood, others find that chronic health concerns such as hypertension, diabetes, and living in toxic spaces, impair their sight, hearing, mobility, or cognitive abilities. Brilliantly, most find ways of enjoying life to the fullest.

Dr. Shantella Sherman

Among them, a former colleague, Zarifa Roberson, comes to mind. As the former founder and publisher of i.d.e.a.l. Magazine, a publication giving voice to urban young people with disabilities, Roberson embodied the passion of both an advocate and educator. During its 11 years of operation, i.d.e.a.l. came to epitomize Roberson’s amazing spirit for living and loving with arthrogryposis multiplex congentia. A condition characterized by multiple joint contractures (stiffness) and involves muscle weakness found throughout the body at birth, the name, is derived from the Greek, means curved or hooked joints. Roberson, who shuttered the magazine in 2015, now travels the country as a motivational speaker, encouraging others with disabilities to enjoy every aspect of their lives – including active sex lives.

“My purpose through my business is to change the way society has stigmatized people with disabilities especially among people of color, and to create an image of people of color with disabilities as contributing members of society such as entrepreneur, lawyers, doctors, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and teachers,” Roberson said. “Most importantly, I want our image to be diverse, successful and valuable members to society.”

In addition to addressing some of the health concerns of those with mobility, sensory and cognitive impairments, this Informer health supplement celebrates the tenacity, resilience and graft of this growing community.

Read, Learn, Enjoy.
Dr. S

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Dr. Shantella Y. Sherman

Dr. Shantella Sherman is a historian and journalist who serves as the Informer's Special Editions Editor. Dr. Sherman is the author of In Search of Purity: Eugenics & Racial Uplift Among New Negroes...

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