Joseph Vernon Smith at his job bagging groceries at Giant Eagle in Crafton. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

It’s not easy being a Black man on the autism spectrum

Though the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities, there are still malevolent forces seeking to undermine the hard work activists have been doing for years to neutralize the venomous stigma of discrimination. We have a long way to go. Until then, I can tell you: It’s not easy being a Black man on the autism spectrum.

Dylan Kapit is a queer, trans, non-binary, autistic advocate and activist who is currently a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh. (Courtesy photo)

Academia’s narrow gates: People with disabilities should not be deterred from higher ed

Like many other systems in the United States, higher education is not designed for the majority of the population. It is not designed for people of color; it is not designed for low-income folks; and it is not designed for people with disabilities. Are there still ways to thrive in these systems as a student with a disability? Sure. But it isn’t easy. It almost always involves a fight. And it often requires that the disabled student advocate for their needs instead of getting help from the institution.

Catherine Getchell and her guide dog in her backyard in Squirrel Hill. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

When will the Americans with Disabilities Act evolve to the digital age?

I was 9 years old when the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] was passed in July 1990. It did not have an immediate impact on my life because, as a totally blind child, I already had access to a ‘free and appropriate’ public K-12 education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was passed before the ADA, in 1973. But in 1998 when I went away to college, I counted on the ADA to allow me access to accommodations like exams in Braille and permission to have my brand-new guide dog come to class with me.

Two movements against police brutality — from Cairo to Pittsburgh

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. In the past few weeks of unprecedented — and sometimes unpredictable — protests fighting for Black lives and against police brutality, I have asked myself about similarities between this movement in the United States and Egypt’s 2011 revolution. I considered parallels between police-community relationships in both — having first moved to Pittsburgh in 2012 as an academic. I spent periods of time in my native Cairo between 2011 and 2016 while completing a seven-year project on Egypt’s counter-revolution. I participated in demonstrations now known as the infamous “Mohammed Mahmoud Street” protests of November 2011 and attended every day of the Michael Rosfeld trial in 2019 for the killing of Antwon Rose II, including the subsequent protests over police violence. 

During Egypt’s 2011 revolution, the country experienced an overnight disappearance of police from residential streets and protest sites.

J. Oliver Choo is a graduating senior from Fox Chapel Area High School.

Black Fox Chapel students have spoken up about racism in our school district. Now students like me are no longer afraid to share our experiences.

Until a month ago, I was proud of graduating from Fox Chapel Area High School. I was grateful for the enthusiastic faculty as well as the friendships I had made. However, the recent controversy surrounding racism at Fox Chapel has compelled me to revisit my own experience with prejudice at the school – one that I have tried hard to forget. My ethnicity is half-Taiwanese and half-Korean. My heritage is known for its legendary empires, scientific innovation and excellent cuisine.

Cristie Bloom with her husband, Chris Gabuzda, and their four children ( Lillian, 9; Miles, 8; Eleanor, 6; Elias, 4). (Courtesy photo)

In search of another large, cautious Pittsburgh-area family to join our ‘quarantine pod’

The world as we know it changed when COVID-19 surfaced and brought with it new ideas about what it means to be safe. I trust in science and appreciate the need to minimize risk, but maximizing the opportunity for my family's happiness is also important. 

As we move forward into this new world where social distancing, masks and the constant smell of sanitizer are expected to continue without an end in sight, the future looks brighter with the thought of friends by our side. 

So, one night, in the middle of our latest Netflix binge, I asked my husband how he would feel about finding another family to quarantine with us. He stared at me blankly and laughed. "How would that even work? How would we know that another family would follow the same precautions that we're taking?

Our cities are burning, and so is the mental health of this African-American teen

“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” —James Baldwin, author and civil rights activist

This is the perfect quote to describe my reaction to the recent events involving Black men that have taken place during quarantine: a constant state of rage, sadness and hopelessness. Perhaps being able to go out and converse with my friends and peers would help me cope with these events, but unfortunately that wouldn’t help with my healing. 

(Courtesy photo)

With a newborn, 5-year old and new diploma, I am juggling it all amid the pandemic. Because is there even a choice?

It’s Feb. 28, the Friday before my due date and the last day with the students I have been learning along as a student-teacher. I have grown so attached to the students since I started two and a half months earlier. Even though it has been a process acclimating and learning the gears and grooves of everyday teaching at a charter school, I am thoroughly enjoying the uphill process. My timing is improving, lessons becoming smooth like jazz, and I even have some inside jokes with the students.