Jonathan Thomas | Photo provided by Jonathan Thomas
Jonathan I. Thomas is a second-year grad student going for his master’s degree in English Rhetoric and Writing. Thomas has a bachelor’s degree in Language Arts Education and intends to one day become a professor in order to teach about Ebonics.
“When you go to a predominantly white school, you are taught standard English and are told that how I or other black people talk is improper, which isn’t true. It’s another form of language. I think it’s important we as teachers, and hopefully, me as a professor, teach students that there are multiple forms of languages and dialects so that students feel more comfortable in the classroom and throughout their lives,” said Thomas.
Thomas was diagnosed at age eight with Stargardt’s disease which caused his central vision to deteriorate. He has written stories describing what it is like going through high school being blind.
Throughout his high school years, Thomas participated in wrestling and football, always wanting to overcome his blindness.
“For a lot of my life, I wanted to be like everyone else. I didn’t like being blind because I didn’t feel like I fit in in a lot of places. I internalized a lot of things my classmates would say. I always thought I needed to overcome my blindness, but after talking with my case manager and disability services at Wright State, I decided to embrace my blindness,” said Thomas.
Throughout his life, Thomas would not use braille, a cane or anything attached to him that would make it seem he was incapable of doing things. After embracing his blindness, Thomas has started using these tools in the classroom and in everyday life.
“I embrace braille, using my screen reader and cane. I’m not afraid of saying that I’m blind and not using the term visually impaired. It’s helped me to like myself,” said Thomas.
Thomas spends most of his days reading and writing for college and pleasure.
Thomas has also created poetry, rap songs, realistic fiction, fantasy and spoken words throughout the years. This all started when he participated in a shoe drive and found his love for words. He creates his spoken words and rap songs that relate to his everyday life and the dreams he has.
“It helped me to express my emotions. I was at a particular point in my life that was stressful and writing about this pressure proved to myself that I actually am capable of being in college,” said Thomas.