There’s a video going around that I’m not going to link here.
You’ve probably already seen it, anyway.
It’s of a man with a disability being fed by a worker at McDonald’s. Everybody seems to love this video. I’ve seen it deemed heartwarming. I’ve seen it called news.
When did compassion become a headline?
There’s another news article that came out recently, about a sorority which accepted a young woman who has Down syndrome.
We don’t deem it newsworthy when an able bodied person is accepted into a sorority. In fact, sororities are frequently the butt of plenty of mysoginst jokes.
For one, we shouldn’t be patting ourselves for doing things that we should already be doing. For two, this is just another round of inspiration porn headlines.
I’m glad that I’ve never made the news because of somethingI would have done anyway, if I weren’t blind & deaf. I’m glad that no one has caught an image of someone helping me across the street, or of me getting help through a crowd. Because I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the one who people point to and say “Oh, look at how equal she is” or “Oh, look how nice it was for someone to help her dodge getting hit by a truck.” I want to be recognized as a whole person – and I want others who share the subsection of disability to have that too.
These two articles don’t show me progress, they show me that we’re still lacking as a society.
We’re still lacking support for our disabled elderly. We’re still lacking inclusion in our closed clubs, in our college clubs and our secret societies.
These stories are not the stories I want to be seeing highlighting my fellow disabled people. I’d love to see articles about PWD’s who are making changes in their communities by stepping up and teaching emergency preparedness for PWD’s – or hell, journalism highlighting the very fact that our emergency preparation isn’t good enough when it comes to the elderly and disabled.
I’d like to see people covering the disabled folks who represent us in D.C., who work very hard to protect our rights.
When you see inspiration porn like this, look for the real heroes. There are people out there who are disabled who I look to as “inspiration” not because they simply live, but because of what they’re doing to change the world I live in.
Rather than covering a sorority just because they admit ONE young woman with Down syndrome, find a way to talk about disability within institutions of privilege. There’s so much more to say, so much more to experience when it comes to people with disabilities.
We’re real people, and our experiences are important. Look past the headlines on inspiration porn to think about the real issues at play. WHY is it so heartwarming to see an elderly disabled person being fed by a stranger? Shouldn’t we focus on being more compassionate in our lives as a whole, rather than ignoring those who need us?
Shouldn’t we fight to be more inclusive of people with disabilities in our closed communities, rather than celebrating when a single one is brought into the fold?
I’ll be inspired when I see real change.