Hey children, Did You Know?
Representation isn’t exclusively important for the people being represented!!!
White kids need to watch POC being heroes too!!! It shows them that people can save the day regardless of their race!!!
Boys need to watch girls being strong and powerful!!!! It shows them that people deserve respect regardless of their gender!!!
Slim kids need to see confident and adored fat characters!!!! It shows them that everyone can be loved and love themselves regardless of their body types!!!!
Cishet kids need to watch queer kids falling in love (or just not falling in love!!!) and having happy endings!!! It shows that everyone is valid and everyone deserves to be happy regardless of sexuality or identity!!!!
Representation isn’t just for minorities, it’s important so that kids can learn that yes, they can be whoever they want to be and they deserve good things, but so do people who aren’t like them!!!!
And non-disabled kids need to watch disabled characters who …
- Have their own story arc,
- Have their own will and agency and goals and motivations that aren’t just to support the emotional growth and maturation or story arcs of the non-disabled
- Get to have happy endings WITHOUT BEING CURED OF THEIR DISABILITY
- Have complex and nuanced personalities without stereotyping
- If they are villains, then their villainy has nothing whatsoever to do with their disability, and there are ALSO “good guys” in the same story who are disabled people
Because non-disabled people need to learn to respect us disabled people as having the same range of talents, interests, etc. as they do. And that we deserve to exist and to be included in the mainstream of society–which means everyone has a shared responsibility for continuously creating an accessible environment. And employers need to learn that they need to ASK us how we intend to carry out the essential tasks of the job instead of just assuming that we can’t do them.
Non-disabled people need to learn that most disabled people can work–and do! If just given the opportunity to show what we can do! And for disabled people who cannot work at all, they have value too and deserve to be respected and included in society because, no, they’re not just “slackers” and no, it’s actually very rare for anyone to be “gaming the system” – if they have welfare then it’s because they have passed very rigorous screening to prove that they really do need the benefits!
Non-disabled people need to learn that videos should always be captioned for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or have auditory processing disorder. Images should always come with image descriptions for people who are blind, have low vision, or vision processing disorder. Important information should be available in easy-to-understand language for people with intellectual disabilities. Public buildings should always be fully wheelchair accessible and have braille and so forth.
Religious diversity matters too–non-Muslim people and non-Jewish people need to see that the overwhelming majority of Muslim people and Jewish people are just regular folks like them, and some of them do amazing things, and some of them are leading regular boring lives just like the lives of many non-Muslim and non-Jewish people. Religious people need to see that atheist people have a sense of morals and values just like they do, it’s just that we don’t consult a particular religious body of literature in knowing right from wrong.
Class diversity matters too. People who are rich or middle class need to realize that most people living in poverty ALREADY HAVE JOBS, and that the average poor person often works harder than the average middle class/rich person. They aren’t poor due to laziness, they’re poor because they may only have the skills for (or only have access to) low paying jobs that don’t pay enough to keep them out of poverty. Or for people who are on social security or other benefits, many benefits and regulations about who can receive them keep people in perpetual poverty with very little, almost no, opportunity to escape–even if they are desperately trying. Regulations meant to get people off welfare often do so simply by cutting them off and leaving them in worse poverty–and NOT by actually improving their access to opportunities for income or other ways to escape poverty without benefits.