Justice

Kendrick Lamar's Good Deed Highlights the Importance of Wheelchair Accessibility

July 18th 2017

By:
Ngozi Ahanotu

Kendrick Lamar gave a fan the surprise of her life when he invited her backstage on Monday night.

Jennifer Phillips, a super fan of the rap artist, was in a car crash that left her quadriplegic for the last 10 years.

After the accident, she continued to travel with friends, finish college, and attend concerts. To keep with her active lifestyle, she started a GoFundMe in April 2016 to raise $20,000 for a new and improved mobility van to help her get around town.

Monday night was her eighth Lamar concert, and she was definitely in for a treat as the "Humble" rapper gifted Phillips his “DAMN” tour jacket with a special handwritten note.

 

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The note, showing appreciation to Phillips, reads as follows:

"Thank you for always supporting me. You['re] a inspiration for me. You are strong and positive. You['re] kind and beautiful. For all the years of inspiring me, the least I can do is make sure you['re] comfortable driving the city. A gift from me to you. You['re] always appreciated!"

DJ Vlad posted about Lamar's kind act in a tweet writing, "Kendrick Lamar Surprises Disabled Fan Backstage With Signed Merchandise," which Phillips addressed:

Phillips brought up an important point in her tweets. While terms like "handicapped" or "impaired" are often deemed inappropriate, according to "A Guide to Interacting with People who have Disabilities" by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the word "disability" is considered appropriate.

"People with disabilities are people first. They are not defined by their conditions or diseases. Lack of awareness about disabilities can lead to unintended stereotypes and discrimination. The way we view and communicate with and about people with disabilities shapes our relationships. The way we refer to people with disabilities in our communication is important," the guide noted. "Putting the person first in our communications is not 'political correctness,' it is showing respect for the dignity of the individual."

However, Phillips wanted to keep the focus on Lamar's good deed and her campaign for a new mobility van to bring attention to the lack of wheelchair accessibility and high cost of mobility in the United States.

"One out of every five adults has a disability," according to a 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study.

This July actually marked the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, which was passed to protect the civil rights of people with physical and cognitive disabilities.

There are over 2 million people in the U.S. who need a wheelchair for daily mobility. Vehicle mobility, however, can be costly for the average physically disabled person, with the cost to convert a current vehicle costing anywhere from $10,000-$20,000.

Uber and Lyft are the nation’s top ride-sharing companies, and both have transport options for passengers of all abilities. As many U.S. organizations lead the change for the disabled community, there's still a long way to go for an overall inclusive environment for all people. Lamar’s effort for his fan was an amazing public push for people to take notice on this silent issue.