disability missing from picture


Senator Elizabeth Warren was barred from reading the letter that Coretta Scott King wrote regarding Sessions. Mitch McConnell said of the barring and of Warren, “she was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless she persisted.”

Social media erupted, and #ShePersisted became the rallying cry.

Now, all of that is awesome and necessary. This post is not about that. This post is about the memes, videos and imagery that come from the women’s movement right now, memes and imagery that include every minority EXCEPT disability.

Take a look at this image posted on the Huffington Post recently:

#shepersisted She Persisted - image description of photos of various women who are leaders in rights movements around the world

This is #ShePersisted without disability.

These are images of powerful, resilient, strong, fierce fighters of women’s rights, education, sexual and racial equality. But where are the disabled fighters in that image?

Do the disabled fighters exist?

I mean, where are we?

Does the fact that we are not in these popular images and memes mean that we aren’t fighting for our rights? Does it mean that those women didn’t crawl up those stairs or camp out in the Federal Building in San Francisco, battling for the 504 (see below)? Does it mean that Judy Heumann didn’t devote almost her entire life to fighting for access, education, opportunity, inclusion?

How ironic that we are not mentioned AT ALL when “inspiration porn” is so rampant.

I mean, we in the disabled community ask to not be token symbols of inspiration for our daily actions that are performed with the presence of disability in our lives, but when we actually do something that is unequivocally heroic and worth celebrating and including, there is silence.

How ironic that people jump up and down about dolls with hearing aids, or dolls with Down syndrome, write a ton of articles about how “inclusive” this all is, how happy their daughter is with a doll that looks like her, but say nothing when the real inclusion does not happen.

Because let me tell you something: disabled dolls don’t mean anything when we, the disabled women, are missing from those calls to action.

Disabled dolls mean nothing when our disabled leaders are not in the videos, the imagery, the celebration of powerful civil rights leaders.

Do you know how this feels?

Oh, not Chelsea Handler; that’s not the point. The point is that this is one of the myriad of little viral videos, memes, articles, posts, that are about standing by and including EVERYONE…. except us with disabilities.

And if by some miracle we are included, it’s only from the ‘woe is them’ perspective, as with Meryl Streep’s piece at the Golden Globes.

So how does this feel?

It hurts. It hurts a lot.

It’s a constant prick, a knowing that we are not included, that our efforts and fight are not valued as equal. It’s a knowing that while we drag our disabled asses out of bed to continue with the writing, the advocacy, the fight, while we deal with the inaccessible world around us and still continue with the writing, the advocacy, the fight, even when our disabilities do make some of that very hard for us, we are not accepted in the picture.

We aren’t thought of as cool, like the LGBTQ crowd with their rainbow flags, good dancers and Ellen. We aren’t gorgeous like the people of color.

But so many of us intersect those populations – because we, people with disabilities, intersect every community, every population, every crowd, bar none.


For Your Reference: The Power of the 504

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