Disability Discrimination - Part I

Ellis Island -Medical Exam Changes Over 30 Yea...Image by Erica_Marshall via Flickr

A friend of mine has spent years bringing public attention to issues of disability discrimination and its history. She recently informed me of a practice at Ellis Island that shocked me.

When public health officials tested the potential immigrants, those suspected of having a "mental defect" would be stopped and an official would place an "X" on the persons shirt with chalk. This greatly offends me. Can you imagine being greeted in a new land by somebody who write on you with chalk? Here is an article that describes the practice. Here is a powerpoint about the practice.

I know that immigration is a big issue in today's news. What do you think about the big X written in chalk? Isn't this a harsh way to make the point? What would you do?

I am also intrigued by the fact that some of the immigrants were clever enough to remove the chalk marks or simply turned their shirts inside out! Some people were just destined to be Americans.