International Day of People with Disability was on 3 December. But it was the quietest Disability Day I’ve ever seen, since I’ve been an activist, It’s been a topic of discussion between me and other disabled friends for the last week or so.
Where were the brands?
Where were the businesses? (Especially those businesses who’ve had some disability awareness or disability cultural safety training?)
Where were the influencers and podcasters – especially those committed to using their platforms to raise awareness of diverse people?
Where were the people who campaigned for The Voice to Parliament?
Where were the people who celebrate LGBTIQA+ pride?
Where were the people who are advocating for Palestine? (War is a mass disabling event.)
Where were the media outlets?
Where were the newly diagnosed Neurodivergent white women? (Neurodivergency falls under the Disability umbrella.)
Where were the people who constantly tell me what good allies they are, and get defensive when their ableism and inaccessibility is pointed out?
Where were the allies from other marginalised communities?
Where were my friends and colleagues?
There was barely a whisper. It was as though we don’t exist.
Disabled people show up for many causes and communities, and few show up for us.
Disabled people have always existed.
And now, we are louder, prouder and more visible than ever.
The lack of widespread recognition of Disability Day shows how most people don’t seem to have disabled friends, or ever think about accessibility, ableism, discrimination or representation.
I don’t want to hear that you feel bad for not doing anything, or that you didn’t know it was happening. (Disabled people produced a load of content about it – not just on 3 December but regularly.)
I know you’re tired and the world is bleak right now. I’m tired too – and I’m doing what I can.
I want to see true allyship, and as Robyn Lambird said, I want to see Disability Pride celebrated like LGBITQA + Pride.
Where were you on 3 December?
Where were you on the launch of the Disability Royal Commission final report which detailed horrific abuse in September?
Where are you when serious disability issues make the news; and when disability excellence is to be celebrated?
Where are you year round with your allyship for Disabled people?
Where were you?
Thank you to the few allies who amplified disabled people, who booked us for work, and who do show up year round. And thank you to Disabled people for your endless work and visibility. You’re appreciated.
I haven’t got this out sooner, due to busyness and exhaustion at the reality of the silence, but also because speaking up opens myself up to trolling. No doubt this post will reinforce my reputation as entitled, difficult, a complainer, too angry, shaming people, etc. But I’m not going to be quiet about this. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t feel deeply hurt and disappointed, even though I predicted this.
And I’m using a pic of me in my undies, because I know it gets your attention. (Bra kindly gifted from Bonds.)
If this post has helped you, or made you think, or you’ll use it in your work, please consider buying me a drink.
image: Carly, a woman with red skin and short dark curly hair, wearing a lilac bra and black undies. She’s in a friend’s living room, smiling. A lilac speech bubble has the text “Where were you on Disability Day?” in it.