The Whitewashing of Disability: Trolls, #DisabilityTooWhite, and The Fight for Proper Representation | Keah Brown

I am not a stranger to hate on the Internet.

You can ask any person of color on almost any social media platform, and they will tell you the same. I am, however, new to the hate from trolls in mass amounts in a short time period. These new, particular trolls are a result of tweets that I made in support of the #DisabilityTooWhite

Started by Vilissa Thompson (@VilissaThompson), founder of Ramp Your Voice!, disability rights consultant and advocate, and blogger, the #DisabilityTooWhite hashtag was created to outline and showcase the racial disparities in disability representation and care.

In support, I tweeted out the following things:

I woke up this morning to over eighty five Twitter notifications, most of them tweets and likes of solidarity, but an awful lot of them were full of racist, ableist and misogynistic slurs.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m no stranger to hate. The hate that I have received usually comes in the form of an anonymous message in my Tumblr ask box. They are usually one off comments that I delete and move on from convinced, that someone who isn’t even brave enough to show their face, has no say in who I am or what I should or shouldn’t do.

What the comments and hate do is highlight the fact that these commenters anonymous or not are real people and they help structure and uplift a society built on racism and inequality. They bask in their privilege and demand that nothing changes.

Twitter however, puts names and faces to these people. These names and faces don’t change how I feel about myself; I’m far beyond that point of in my life. What the comments and hate do is highlight the fact that these commenters anonymous or not are real people and they help structure and uplift a society built on racism and inequality. They bask in their privilege and demand that nothing changes. People of Color and other marginalized voices want and deserve that change.

If nothing else, these tweets showcase the ways in which people of color and marginalized voices are harassed and ridiculed for speaking up about injustices — and prove that this continues to be a huge problem.

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There is no way that we can move forward and do better as a society if we don’t confront and change our ideals about disability and the role that people of color play in our society in general.

If we spend the rest of our lives believing that whiteness is the default in every single category, we will end up creating a world where bigotry and racism alike grow and prosper.

There is no way that we can move forward and do better as a society if we don’t confront and change our ideals about disability and the role that people of color play in our society in general.

That’s why I believe in movements like these with Hashtags like the one Vilissa made last night are so important. These hashtags start a conversation or continue a conversation that needs to reach a higher and wider audience and without them, we wouldn’t be able to have our voices heard.

I have spent the majority of my day blocking and muting racist and harmful tweets. Almost every participant in the hashtag has as well. The trolls haven’t discouraged me. If anything, they’ve put fuel in my fire and give me the energy to keep speaking up for people of color in the disability community and the rest of society.

Change is coming – and I’m excited to have a front row seat.

Want to learn more? Check out the Black Disabled Woman Syllabus: A Compilation by Vilissa Thompson.

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Keah Brown reads a lot of books and watches far too much TV. Music is her third favorite thing after cheesecake and pizza of course. Her work has appeared in The Toast, Femsplain, Catapult and Atticus Reviewamong other publications. She laughs at her own tweets @Keah_Maria.

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One thought on “The Whitewashing of Disability: Trolls, #DisabilityTooWhite, and The Fight for Proper Representation | Keah Brown

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