Let’s be honest. As much as we make of “accepting” our disabilities, don’t we relish those moments when our disabilities momentarily “disappear”? And isn’t that why we make such a fuss about being integrated into the mainstream instead of segregated as a “special” group? We want to blend seamlessly into society. If we stand out, we want to stand out because of a skill, an achievement, or some unique quality, not because we are disabled.

We are not alone. Every minority group is faced with the same dilemma: We want equality and freedom from stereotypical limitations imposed by the mainstream, yet the more we insist on our rights, the more attention we focus on our being a minority. The more we demand, the more we self-segregate ourselves.

President Obama knows this well. For all the hoopla over his being the first African-American president, he has been very careful to downplay his minority status. His extraordinary skill as a politician is his ability to appeal to the broadest possible demographic. Shelby Steele, author and research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, characterized Obama’s appeal this way in a conversation with Bil