Oprah Talks to Stevie Wonder
Oprah: Do you worry that people will take advantage of you?
Stevie: I can't focus on that—you can drive yourself crazy thinking about that kind of stuff. If anything goes down, I will ultimately know.
Oprah: I read that you once wanted to be an electrician. How can you be a blind electrician without electrocuting yourself?
Stevie: It would have been difficult. But these days, with advances in technology, there are blind doctors and computer programmers.
Oprah: Didn't you also want to be a minister?
Stevie: Yes. If I could see, I'd be a Malcolm X. Well, I don't know if I'd be a Muslim. I was raised Christian. But I'd definitely be a fighter taking aggressive and progressive positions, because I can't conceive of some of the things happening in our country, given the spirit we're supposed to be about. Unacceptable! I'd have either been an incredible minister and still alive or one who took such radical stands that I'd have been killed by now. That isn't to say my desire to help humankind is any less strong because I'm blind. But blindness creates dependency. That's just real. Yet it doesn't make my thoughts any less free.
Oprah: Do you ever resent that dependency?
Stevie: No. It has to be that way.
Oprah: You seem to have accepted reality.
Stevie: If you had a choice between sitting in this room and doing nothing or letting people guide you, which would you choose? At some point, you'd say, "This is my life, so this is how I have to roll with it."
Oprah: True. When did you first reject the idea of yourself as disabled?
Stevie: My mother taught me to do that long before I realized the road I was on. She didn't bind me up. She wasn't like, "Don't step there!" or "Watch out, you'll fall!" She'd tell me to be careful, but I was going to do what I was going to do. She was just fast enough to catch me. She knew I had to learn—and the more she allowed me to do, the more she could let go. She saw that I'd developed what's called facial radar, meaning that I could hear the sound of objects around me. If you close your eyes and put your hands right in front of your face, then move your hands, you can actually hear the sound of the air bouncing off your hands.
Oprah: So if you walk up to a wall, you can hear it?