Health

New Hashtag Is Calling out the Media for Overlooking This Group in the Disabled Community

Disabled people are using the hashtag #DisabilityTooWhite to call for more diverse representations of their community in the media.

#DisabilityTooWhite, much like the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, calls out the media at large for shunning people of color.

#DisabilityTooWhite represents a similar argument but criticizes the mass media's coverage of those with disabilities. Vilissa Thompson, the founder of disability equality organization, Ramp Your Voice, started the hashtag after stumbling upon an xoJane article that only presented white women in a story about disability and beauty, The Daily Dot reported.

Thompson clarified to ATTN: via email that the hashtag was not inspired by #OscarsSoWhite, but "a knee-jerk reaction to yet another mass media posting about disability and disabled women specifically that lacked diversity."

"The hashtag was truly overdue - the powerful reception to it shows that fact," she told ATTN:. "It's a discussion that I have made the focus within my advocacy work - increasing the visibility and voices of disabled people of color, particularly disabled women of color. Lack of diversity is seen within disability, from the organizations failing to discuss race and be diverse when it comes to membership (Executive Directors, employees, Board of Directors, etc.) and disabled people of color struggling to [feel] included in a community that overlooks them and erases their contributions in our history and collective advocacy movement. That xoJane article caused something within me to be fired up, and that birthed the hashtag. I wish the media, especially outlets that focus on women, would do a better job in including women of color, especially disabled women of color who want to see themselves and their stories shared and feel empowered by positive representation."

She added that the media representation of people of color that does exist tends to feel like "inspiration porn."

"I've written about this on my own blog. In that piece, I shared how disabled whites have the ability to condemn or celebrate stories in the media that may or may not be problematic, while Black disabled people do not have that same privilege. We are 'stuck' with headlines that may be problematic, but we still have to embrace them regardless of the fact due to the lack of visibility we have in the media in the first place about our lives. It's a Catch-22, in a sense, that many of us endure, and is rarely discussed openly." 

The hashtag swiftly took on a life of its own, with those in the disabled community arguing that they have felt slighted by the media:

This comes several months after a controversial Interview magazine cover depicting reality star Kylie Jenner in a wheelchair.

In December, many people in the disabled community criticized Interview magazine for putting Jenner in a wheelchair for a cover shoot, arguing it is wrong to turn disability into a fashion prop.

Erin Tatum, a woman with cerebral palsy, recreated Jenner's photo shoot for a Tumblr post to make a statement about the image.

"I tried my best to create a more authentic version of Kylie Jenner’s Interview cover, given that I’m, you know, actually disabled and a real life wheelchair user," Tatum wrote. "I can barely get people to make eye contact with me, let alone land a cover shoot. If being in a wheelchair is trendy now, I’ve apparently been a trendsetter since before Kylie was born."

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