Friday, September 14, 2012

The Independence of Annie Harris

Title: It's Easier to Dance

Author: Annie Lauren Harris


It’s Easier to Dance, a memoir, by Annie Laurie Harris, a woman of African American Heritage, born with cerebral palsy, depicts the highlights, turning points and crossroads of her life while living with a complex, multi-faceted disability.  Cerebral Palsy is a neurological birth defect that can impair the function of any part of the brain. In her case, her brilliant intellect exists concurrently with lack of muscle coordination and significant speech impairment as well as difficulty in swallowing and performing everyday tasks.  Ms. Harris tells in detail of the struggle to learn to take care of herself, earn professional credentials, work in profit and non-profit organizations, and become a contributing member of her community.  Her vast experience and engaging personality jump off the pages as you read the compelling account of the highlights of her active life. 


Questions for our guest today - Annie Harris

- Why was she compelled to write her book now, instead of years ago?
- In what way does she hope to inspire someone else to write their story because of her story and message?

All of the laws and medical advancements that have allowed public education and access to public buildings, transportation and inclusion in the decision making process     regarding lifestyle choice have been passed during my adulthood. I chronologically define each one beginning in 1972 when the Right to Education Law was passed. Yet, here we are in the 21st century, where abuse and euthanasia of the most severely impaired still happens all too frequently.  Stereotypes that I thought were long gone are still ingrained in the minds of our healthcare providers as well as managers of home based care agencies.  I am fighting these issues currently with an unwavering commitment to severely interrupt this ongoing discrimination that still compromises the lives of those who live with socially stigmatized disabilities and it is an ugly battle.  In the richest country in the world, we can do better.

From an early age, I knew that I would write a book about my life.  It was just a matter of timing.  What would be the best time in history for an African-American woman born with cerebral palsy to write about her life? With the Americans with Disabilities Act being made law in 1990, I believed things would improve significantly and, in terms of physical access, there has been much progress.  However, for those born with disabilities that carried a significant social stigma, the gains were not as noticeable.
As it became clear to me that being diagnosed with a disability now had a distinct political dimension, writing of my experiences may have greater significance and have broader implications than was  possible at an earlier time in history.
I actually started to write its Easier to Dance in the mid-1990s.  However, it soon became clear to me that I was still too angry to write with the level of honesty and clarity that is now apparent in my book.  I already had the title and the first sentence comes from those beginning notes.  I put those notes aside and began to pray that God not allow me to write until I could do so with compassion, forgiveness and   understanding.   This was particularly true when it came to writing about the complex relationship I had with my mother.  As her adult daughter, I wanted to write about her honestly, with compassion and forgiveness.  I wanted to speak to   those mothers experiencing similar burdens, confusion and immense the responsibilities of raising a child with significant challenges to accept and overcome and, at times, littlee hope to sustain   them. 

I hope by sharing my memoirs, others   will be inspired to live there lives with integrity, making their own choices and finding their own limits.  I want others to know that   they have options and the experts in the field are not always correct, dedicated as they may be.  Especially in today’s healthcare system, parents of children with disabilities and adults with disabilities have a right to question methods of treatment and seek alternative treatment modalities.  To ask questions of the professionals who speak with    false confidence. 

Mostly, I want people of minority cultures to know that if  they insist on being treated with respect and dignity, they can impact their environments and make a difference.

Annie will has a contest to give away a  Kindle Fire.  Your readers should enjoy the contest.   Here is the embed code for the contest form:

Here is the code for two videos, one is Ammie enjoying golfing and the other is a video book review.  Very soon, she will have a video interview available and I will send  the hosts the embed code as soon as it is completed.
Book Review  Video code:

Annie Practicing Golf Vide code:
She has a website and blog:


Annie Laurie Harris, the oldest one of her ethnicity who lives independently, was born with cerebral palsy. She has defied the odds and challenged the medical prognosis since early childhood. She continues to live a full and active life in her 6th decade. After achieving her Master's Degree at Penn State University in 1985 she worked as a counselor and advocate for those with a history of chemical dependency. In 1990, she was recruited by the prestigious World Institute of Disability to be the Assistant Director of the first HIV/Disability Project. Her grant writing expertise is second to none as private foundations funded her innovative research projects again and again. Since returning to her home state of PA where she lives near her beloved alma mater, Ms. Harris continues to be involved in her community and avidly supports the Penn State athletic program. Once again,her love of writing helps to supplement her income. Her groundbreaking memoirs, It's Easier to Dance, is provocative and thought provoking.


Annie said...

I want to express my deep appreciation for your invitation to be a guest blogger on your web site and for promoting my memoir, It's Easier to Dance. I wrote this particular post in hopes of encouraging others to become active participants with their care providers.

Thank you again for your encouargement and suport.

Anonymous said...

I think it's admirable that you've chosen to tell your life story in order to make people aware of the many problems that still exist in the modern American healthcare system and to inspire people to take action to fix that system and to treat others with dignity and respect.

-Miranda M

Annie said...

I deeply appreciate the support I continue to receive. It is not easy to peak up about such things.

To al who have verbally or written their encouragement, I thank you!