Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Poem: What Happened When I Spoke Out About Damaging Disabled Representation in the Media

When you say,
"Reading about problematic representation is draining.
Just admit you like the show.  You'll be happier."

I hear,
"Just ignore it
Like I'm ignoring you."

When you say,
"This is the only show that has
This much disabled representation."

I hear,
"It's enough that you exist on television.
It doesn't matter if it's harmful."

When you say,
"We [able-bodied people] already said
Disabled people should speak for themselves."

I hear,
"Your voice
Doesn't matter."

When you say,
"You'e probably not going to get what you want 
In terms of agency and disabled characters."

I hear,
"Disabled people
Don't have value."

When you say,
"I think it's absolutely fine to want more depth and love
For characters with disabilities, but you need to understand
That things grow slowly in that regard.
Bad representation still makes being disabled more,
You know...  Acceptable."

I hear,
"You
Are not acceptable."

When you say,
"This show should not be
The end all of representation problems...
Because it has better representation than any other show."

I hear,
"Don't blame a show
That harmfully stereotypes
Better
Than all the other shows."

I hear,
"Stop talking."

I hear,
"Close your mouth."

I hear,
"It's enough
That you exist around me."

I hear,
"It doesn't matter
That able people
Are representing you
Behind the scenes
And on the screen."

I hear,
"It doesn't matter
That we are the heroes.
That every single storyline that
A character like you possesses
Is steeped in condescention
And stereotypes.
That you always need helping
And saving,
Because someone like you could never
Help
Or save."

I hear,
"Be grateful for the able words
And the able actors
Portraying the disabled experience.
Be grateful that when a disabled character
Is actually played by a disabled actor,
All the able characters
Still
Speak
For them
And are praised for it."

Just like you
Are speaking for me now.
Art imitating life
Imitating art.
Who is praising you this week?

I hear
Because you won't let me speak.

I'm here
But is that enough?

I hear
But I am not heard.

You turn up the volume,
"Not another word."


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