Teen Spotlight – Samantha H.
Hey humans of the Internet my name is Sam and I have OCA2 🙂
When I was in elementary school, sometimes these ear and eye exam doctors would visit all the students and administer tests. Imagine six year old Sam, getting her vision tested by a stranger, getting an early taste of how her Albinism would interact with the world. Or maybe it’s truly how the world would react to her Albinism. Regardless, here’s how this situation would begin:
“Now read the eye chart starting from the top please.”
“E” I would say and then sit back in my chair as if the job was finished. That one letter E always started an interesting conversation about my vision. From being six to sixteen, from school exams, to trips to Walgreens for a flu shot; I’ve been questioned, worried about and disbelieved. And of course as one could imagine, the doctor was very alarmed when I couldn’t read past the giant E. The situation would spiral from there when I had to explain my visual impairment which I didn’t even truly understand at the time. However explaining my condition didn’t stop when I left the eye exam room, it followed me to the classroom, to the gas station and to the grocery store.
As I grew older I quickly grew better at explaining it, but at times it felt society wasn’t doing its part to understand it. Because of this, over the years Albinism has given me a thicker skin, a knack for attracting positive attention, and a movement to be passionate about. Last summer I reached a breaking point with some kids at my school, and made what could have been just a sad bulging story into one of my proudest moments. I wrote a speech, recorded it and uploaded it to YouTube, and then watched it blow up the rest of summer. Share after share, comment after comment, as I saw the impact I had made, I felt like I had done something valuable. That very video has opened so many doors for me, it’s made me push to become more involved in organizations like this one, discover my passion for activism, and even get invited to be a member of Zero Hour Georgia: (which is an environmental non profit focused on not leaving any minority group behind in the fight for climate justice.) in the same vein, I started an environmental club at my school called YEA: Young Environmental Activists. Before this wave of activism however I focused a lot on singing, acting and dancing. And with all of those things, also remains school.
Despite my Albinism, I’d say I’ve accomplished all of my academic goals thus far. I’ve had people try to discredit my successes due to my disability. But I am currently working to get at a place where I’m 100% confident in my fair skin. In feeling no shame in using every tool at my disposal in school, regardless of the kids that will make me their daily entertainment. The way I see my situation is, during a movement of embracing diversity, I can make a difference. A group of kids bullying me for being blind, turned into discovering a passion and contributing to an online community. Sometimes it takes time, a little thinking, or a roadblock to realize how certain things are worth more than what we initially perceived. In this case my Albinism, initially a disability and an uphill battle, led me to have an impact bigger than myself, and to dye my hair all sorts of colors of course!