Originally, I had planned for this to be a My Nugget of Wisdom for the Week post recommending black, disabled bloggers and YouTubers to do my part in supporting the current movement. However, I was shocked to find how little of them there were out there, or at least how hard they were to find. Unfortunately, I struggled to find enough to share and in the end, had to give up on the idea. I still would like to say how proud I am of the community for stepping up and helping to support more black artists and fight for their equality.
It’s 2020, the year for representation and pride. Society is now full of black representations, strong female representations, LGBTQIA+ representations and… disabled representations? It sometimes feels like after the Paralympics people forget that we even exist – specifically in the TV and media world. It’s true that the odd wheelchair side character or extra in the background often appears for ‘ample diversity scenery’, but hardly ever main characters. So I decided to start a new series on my blog called Disabled Representation Tips & Reviews:
Ever since I became a teenager I’ve been doing everything within my power to change this. When I was fourteen, I used to email numerous kid’s channels like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel every month to try and pitch them the idea of having a sitcom with the main character in a wheelchair. It would be interesting and would probably do a lot of good in erasing ignorance about disabilities among children. If there is any place where disabled representation is extremely necessary: it’s in children’s media.
Fast forward a few years and I’m now designing my own disabled superheroes and trying to write a diverse Young-Adult novel with realistic disabled representations. My friend once said that they found it disappointing that black directors ‘limit themselves’ by often directing predominantly ‘black films’ about black culture using mainly black actors. I responded: ‘Yeah, but who else will?’ I hope to write professionally one day (whether it be for films or novels) and of course, when I do I’m going to include strong disabled representation in my writing. Because the sad truth is: not enough people are including them. I don’t care if it ‘limits’ me or makes my work less mainstream – It needs to be out there if we want a change in how society views disabilities.
So, I plan on doing much more about representation on my blog:
- I’m going to start reviewing popular disabled representation in books and films. I’ve created a new category on my blog for this called ‘Disability Film and Book Reviews’ which you can find on the top-left side of this page. I’d love to hear any suggestions or recommendations for what you would like me to review. It can be anything: representation in books, anime, TV shows, films, etc.
- I plan on writing posts with helpful tips about how to write realistic and creative disabled representation
- I also want to open up my blog as a platform for #OwnVoices writing. If any writer is thinking of writing a book with a disabled character in it (which I highly recommend) I would love to review the representation or give advice on what life would be like for that character, so that you can be sure that the representation is accurate. Click the ‘Contact’ button which is also on the left side of this page to learn how to reach me if you’re interested.
Remember that around one billion people in the world are disabled, so if someone writes a book or a film script set in a large town with no disabled characters – it’s actually rather unrealistic. Diversity is all around us: if modern media continues to show a world where everyone looks the same, then all that they are doing is pitching us a Utopian world that clearly doesn’t mirror reality. We may not fit society’s ‘perfect mould’ but that shouldn’t be a reason for us to often be ignored and excluded from mainstream media.
I really look forward to working more on this Disabled Representation Tips & Reviews series! There are a lot of cool disabled representations that I can’t wait to share with you guys. I’m curious to know: When was the last time that you saw a disabled character in a film or TV series? Did you think that it was a good representation?
Image Citations: https://balamory.fandom.com/wiki/Penny_Pocket, https://www.anime-planet.com/characters/mimori-togo, https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/71283606579933983/, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/arts/television/review-speechless.html, https://www.elle.com.au/culture/isaac-sex-education-george-robinson-22908, https://www.hobbydb.com/marketplaces/hobbydb/subjects/toph-character, https://dc-and-marvel-megaverse.fandom.com/wiki/Oracle_(DC_Universe), https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Goodbye-Dog-Maria-Gianferrari/dp/1626721777/ref=as_li_ss_il?ie=UTF8&qid=1521682081&sr=8-1&keywords=hello+goodbye+dog&linkCode=li2&tag=booksforlittles-20&linkId=d4f8bd9c15983603de7af7d3e576bccb, https://www.usajacket.com/product/freddy-freeman-shazam-jacket/