Friday I was talking with PSP and Lamp about Martin Luther King, who he was and why we had a day off of school because of him. PSP naturally knew and understood quite a bit more than Lamp, but of course I was trying to help bridge the gap so they both could understand a little better. As I stood there explaining to my limb different daughter about racism and how there are some people who think other people aren't worth as much because the color of their skin, I was achingly mindful of the fact that I was talking to her about discrimination because I wanted to prepare her, subtly and tenderly, for a world that still judges people based on their appearance.... people like her.
A few weeks ago when I interviewed Kyle Maynard I brought up the idea that people with disabilities are the final frontier of the civil rights. I was actually a little nervous to put it out there like that, but was relieved when Kyle said that his dad has always said the same thing. The past few years I have been more interested in the civil rights movement than I think I ever was before. I guess it's easy to only give passing thought to the civil rights movement when you're a privileged white girl. And I don't mean that in a demeaning way to myself or others like me... it's hard to be aware of every other world viewpoint. I know what I know.... you know? But you live and learn and whether gradually or all at once your scope widens and suddenly things that once felt like they had nothing to do with you are suddenly, uncharacteristically close. Having a disabled daughter has made the Civil Rights movement feels much closer to me than it ever has before. Simply watching some movies and reading some books will never transplant me to a place of true understanding. I get that. But my daughter with no hands, who can't walk, brings me pretty close. The frustrating thing is I can't even truly understand what she's going through. Black families had (and have) each other, they all know what it feels like to be black and experience a world made for and by white people. My daughter will meet people like her in her life, but those closest to her and who love her the most will still never really know what it's like to live as a disabled person in a world made for and by able bodied people. As a mother, that makes it all the more difficult knowing she bears these unique burdens alone.
Luckily the world she lives in is vastly more accepting of people with disabilities than it was a generation or two ago, at least in America. Better is awesome, but it's not good enough. Enter Change the Face of Beauty. This is an organization started by a mom with a daughter with Down Syndrome and who wanted to see more people with disabilities represented in the media. In their own words:
Our world is a visual world and [our] goal [is] to show the world how beautiful all people are. [We feel it is] important for everyone to be included in advertising. [We] started [our] own campaign in the beginning of 2012 and through the help of organizations, companies and media outlets recognizing [our] efforts [we] have grown and are now speaking out for the children and young adults with different abilities around the world.
Recently Changing the Face of Beauty launched a social media campaign called #Imready #15in2015 where their goal is to see 15 major retailers to include people all abilities in their campaigns in 2015. People with disabilities represent the largest minority group in the world. To me this isn't out people with disabilities 'deserving' to be seen and heard, this is about truth and representing the world and it's beauty in all it's variety. You don't have to know or love someone with a disability to participate, just a twitter, instagram or Facebook account. Here is an example of how you can call out to your favorite retailers and ask for a change:
Also, it actually works! This was a shoutout the Land of Nod gave to me last September on their IG account. They have been working with on a little something that I'm excited to share in a couple of months. Retailers are listening, we just need to shout loud enough for them to hear.
We all know Martin Luther Kings game changing I have a Dream speech and while he was specifically fighting for racial equality I don't think it's a stretch to imagine he, and other good people of the world including you and me, want that equality to reach far and wide. If I could rewrite a single line of his speech it would go like this,
I have a dream that my little children will one day live in a world where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, the number of their chromosomes, the size and shape of their body, their sexual orientation or gender, their abilities or disables, but by the content of their character and the love in their hearts.
Watch a great video here of people challenging their favorite retailers to include people with disables in 2015.
Today is a great day to make a difference don't you think?
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.