Purple Rain: A Royal, Mysterious, Hopeful Existence

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The national color for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is purple. From those deep lavender hues and airy byzantium shades comes a past of royalty, a present of mystery, and a future of hope.


-The Past-

Growing up, I had the chance to treat my body like royalty. When it came to consumption, being the pickiest of eaters, I learned persuasion and negotiation to convince Mom and Pop to eat my way. On the matter of exertion, I had the chance to be on just about every varsity sports team I could find: cheerleader, basketballer, softball swinger, karate chopper, volleyball slammer, and tennis trier (my efforts there deserve no crowning title). Although the Lupus gene was hiding in my body, the King of all Kings felt it wasn’t quite time for my Lupus coronation.

The royal portion of my life ended in style, with my admittance to one of the chicest children’s hospitals in this part of the kingdom. Unfortunately, my crown couldn’t quite fit with all the tubes coming out of me, but the mysterious portion of my time with Lupus began to rain down just a few years later.

-The Present-

My current puzzle of being a student entrepreneur with a disability combines a mixture of initiative, leadership, and foolishness. Since my Lupus tends to hurt me most when I stress out or am in cold weather, of course I started a software company out of my dorm room during the coldest season of the year. I mean, I have never had a better opportunity to just sit back and revel in the fact that a great company hired me to do an interesting job in a new part of America. But instead, I noticed a problem facing the People with Disabilities (PWD) community and now I’ve got a knot in my stomach that will not loosen until this problem is solved. After building a team of 3 phenoms- one mathematics/economics/information systems and operations management sophomore; one finance and disability justice junior; and another consulting and film sophomore- I know that our interdisciplinary group, Ability Enabled, can face the mysteries of startup life effectively together.

 -The Future-

My lupus flares aren’t horrendous, but they are aggravated by cold weather which, lucky me, makes up the majority of the temperature spectrum in my new part of America. Every day I might have to use my negotiation skills to convince my legs to move and partner that with my talents of persuasion to prompt my immune system into submission. Moreover, that aforementioned mix of initiative, leadership, and foolishness may just have to be the recipe for successfully leading my startup 2,000+ miles away from our headquarters.

To be honest, I’m terrified my body will fail me at age 21, and my startup will fail People with Disabilities (PWD) before the age of 1. I am scared that all the nice things people say about my accomplishments will turn out to be a mistake on their part, but I’ve got to think purple. The royal phase of my life may be over as I currently wade through the mysteries of student entrepreneurship. Alas, I can see hope just ahead, or at least that’s what I tell myself as I walk through the Purple Rain.

Eboni J.D. Freeman