With Joseph Robinette Biden Jr taking oath as the 46th President of the United States of America, there has been a renewal in the politics of America. Not only that, Joe Biden has given hopes and has inspired millions of people with speech impairment.
On November 7, Joe Biden became the second-ever US president apart from former president Barack Obama to address 'disability' in his victory speech. "We must make the promise of the country real for everybody, no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability," he had said.
Cut to 20 January 2021, during his inaugural speech at the US Capitol, there were moments when his speech broke while uttering the words 'urban' and 'rural', giving an offhand glimpse to one of the troubles he has had since childhood — stuttering. Little did he care, as the 78-year-old went onto address the world through his speech.
Stuttering is a neurological condition, impacting the fluent flow of words and speeches. Biden has had along battle with his speech impediment since childhood, and one might wonder it must be viewed as a large deterrent for someone who's life is all about public speaking.
However, Biden has always taken his slowly without rushing.
In an earlier interview with CNN Biden had said, "It has nothing to do with your intelligence quotient. It has nothing to do with your intellectual makeup." He believes part of "it is confidence" and "thinks in terms of not rushing."
Biden added that when he occasionally catches himself stuttering, he does find himself "really tired", but that rarely ever pulls down his confidence and ability to stand to bullies.
However, Biden wasn't the only one in the inauguration team who has had the issue of stuttering since young age. Another young poet, who stole the show — Amanda Gorman — is no stranger to the same condition.
Twenty two-year-old Gorman made history by becoming the youngest poet to recite at a presidential inauguration. Gorman's inaugural poem was called "The Hill We Climb".
In an earlier interview, Gorman had opened about her won share of struggle while growing up with speech impairment. For her, pronouncing the alphabet 'R' has been ways difficult, which often makes her constantly indulge in "self policing and self-editing".
Citing an example as to how she tries to make it easy while reciting a poem, Gorman said, "I'd want to say, 'Girls can change the world,' but I cannot say so many letters in that statement, so I'd say things like 'Young women can shape the globe.'"
Yet, stuttering could never take over Gorman from reaching heights at a tender age. Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and she has made news before. In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV; written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike; published her first book, "The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough," as a teenager, and has a two-book deal with Viking Children’s Books. The first work, the picture book "Change Sings," comes out later this year.
Noting how the two stars from the inauguration team have refused to be silenced despite their disabilities, the President of the Stuttering Foundation in Memphis, Jane Fraser explains this is a positive moment in our history.
Speaking to Fox 13, he said, "It’s been just a tremendous thing to be able to say you know, now we have a president who stuttered as a child and in spite of that has been able to deal with politically."
However, it seems the list of 'disable' people participating in the inauguration is longer that includes many other renowned personalities, contributing to make the vent grand.
A Twitter user, Mx. Charis Hill, who identifies them as a transgender, autistic, disabled and a BLM supporter, posted a thread of people who are to be included in the "team". The list includes Hollywood singers Lady Gaga and Jenifer Lopez, who suffer from fibromyalgia and anxiety respectively. "Notable mention: Andrea Hall says Pledge of allegiance in ASL."
Disabled people participating in the inauguration (non-exhaustive list):President Biden - stutterLady Gaga - fibromyalgiaNotable mention: Andrea Hall says Pledge of allegiance in ASLJustice Sotomayor - Type 1 DiabetesJennifer Lopez - anxietyAmanda Gorman - stutter— Mx. Charis Hill ♿ (they/them) (@BeingCharisBlog) January 20, 2021
Netizens hailed Biden and Gorman, and expressed how people suffering from low confidence will derive inspiration from them. This gave social media more reasons to be vocal about being open and welcoming towards the disability communities of America.
Our son, Johnny takes speech therapy for his stutter. He watched President Biden today and said, "I know he practiced really hard on that speech, and that is all I have to do" — Kathryn Santos (@kathrynmsantos) January 21, 2021
Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, became the youngest-ever inaugural poet. As a person with a speech impediment, she's said she can relate to Pres. Biden and his refusal to be silenced by his stutter pic.twitter.com/Yv87DK7b9x— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 21, 2021
Very impressed that Biden was able to control his stutter and give that great speech, hope we all finally get some regular checks to help people survive now— NEO:TWEWY 2021 LET'S GOOOOOOOO (@thebeats_rhymes) January 20, 2021
As someone who grew up with a speech impediment, I can’t tell you how amazing it is to see someone with a speech impediment giving a speech as the President of the United States.— Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath (@emilycheath) January 21, 2021
As a child, Amanda Gorman had a speech impediment. Here she is now aged 22, reciting her poetry at the inauguration of a president who also overcame stutter. What a moment to behold https://t.co/4whOcLp8ZF— Nina Lamparski (@ninaism) January 20, 2021
It is not lost on me that Amanda Gorman, who started writing and sharing poetry to help with her speech impediment, just performed at the inauguration of a President who grew up with a stutter. pic.twitter.com/uY6PZDrUhU— Sheila Katz (@SheilaKatz1) January 20, 2021
As per a survey by The Stuttering Foundation of America, more than 70 million people worldwide stutter, which is about 1% of the population. In the United States, that's over 3 million Americans who stutter.
A survey by CDC states that around 61 million adults in the US live with disability.