Why aren’t [we] people with disabilities recognized in the media as a marginalized minority who endures prejudice, discrimination, and oppression just as much as other minorities? On some issues, such as employment and accessible housing, we struggle with discrimination far more than others. The media rarely covers disability as a marginalized population who fights just as hard to be treated equally as other minority populations.
On CNN June 8th, the Don Lemon show had Cory Booker on discussing the fact that any change in America came through civil unrest. Then he spoke about people with disabilities and said, “And even legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act, people forget that there were incredibly courageous Americans with disabilities who protested. Throwing themselves in front of buses in courageous action.”
It gave me great hope to hear someone in the media portray people with disabilities from a position of strength, rather than that of weakness or neediness.
That is until Don Lemon sat there stone-faced and moved on.
The media, including CNN, just does not know how to cover disability from a standpoint of power. Why is disability rarely included when the media does its litany of marginalized minorities; Black and brown, nationality, women and LGBTQ, etc.? Does the media believe if it doesn’t disclose the social realities that people with disabilities face, then the discrimination doesn’t exist? Is it because the media sees those who have differently working bodies and minds as somehow inferior, so we should be grateful that we even have the little we are permitted?
As we reach the anniversary of the passage of the ADA, our community, the media, lawmakers, and all people need to consider all minority groups in the conversation for social injustice.
Respect the movement, celebrate the successes, and limit barriers for people with any type of disability in our country.
Written by Ability Center board member, Renee Wood.
See transcript from CNN anchor Don Lemons and Senator Cory Booker
LEMON: As the protests continue tonight. The killing of George Floyd is leading to widespread calls for police reform. Democrats in Congress have released a sweeping bill aimed at reform. But will it be enough for protestors calling to defund the police? Interesting. Let’s discuss now.
Senator Cory Booker. Senator, always good to see you. Thank you so much for joining tonight. You know, these protests all over the George Floyd death and the larger issue of police brutality have been going on for two weeks now. Give me your reaction to seeing people out there taking the streets all across this country and for this long?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): It’s incredible. And frankly it’s the only thing that really has made real change in this country. There’s an old saying in Washington that if change doesn’t come from Washington it comes to Washington by people who demand the change. And from the workers’ rights movement to the suffrage movement, to the civil rights movement. All the great strides we have made in issues of justice and fairness really have come from mass non-violent protests around this country.
And even legislation like the Americans with disability act, people forget that there were incredibly courageous Americans with disabilities who do protest. Throwing themselves in front of buses in courageous action. So, this gives me incredible hope. Especially the diversity of the protesters, all ages, a rainbow coalition of individuals. Different religious background. All 50 states. More than a dozen other countries all talking about the — pandemic challenge — country with racism and structural racism.
LEMON: It really is quite remarkable to watch. In a short time we have a lot to get to in a short time we have together, but I want to talk to you about this, because I don’t know if — who understands what this term means, defund the police. Because one of the rallying cries in this protest has been to defund the police.