“By The Power Of #Hashtags”
Online activism can be powerful, as campaigns like #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite have demonstrated. Hashtags like these can be especially useful in highlighting the shared experiences of a particular group and creating space for solidarity to be given and received. Crucially they can make abusive or oppressive behaviour visible, allowing it to be better understood and challenged.
Online activism plays a vital role within the campaign for disability equality and justice, with digital platforms enabling people to campaign from bed and allowing disabled people to connect across borders. This doesn’t mean that wider activist campaigns and spaces shouldn’t campaign for disabled people, as tweets like these from activists @twitchyspoonie and @BeingCharisBlog about yesterday’s Women’s March demonstrate.
If #disability isn't part of your march platform you're ignoring 20% of the world's population & a big part of your own future when you become disabled. #WomensMarch2019 #WomensWave #ableism
— Mx. Charis Hill ♿ (they/them) (@BeingCharisBlog) January 20, 2019
There were no openly disabled speakers to my knowledge and I only heard someone allude to disabled people once for the time I was there. Like we weren't even really acknowledged. #WomensMarch2019 #Disability
— TheDisabilityEnthusiast (@twitchyspoonie) January 20, 2019
I join these and many other voices calling for increased accessibility within social justice campaigns. Anyone organising an event should consider different types of body and mind – there are some resources that might help with this here and here.
Over the last few days my timeline’s been full of tweets from disabled people across the globe using the hashtag #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow which was created by the brilliant @Imani_Barbarin who also brought us #DisTheOscars.
Seeing so many aspects of my daily life made visible through #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow has felt powerful and moving. Here are just a few of the tweets I strongly relate to:
Being soft, vulnerable, afraid, and needing help are part of the human condition and not weaknesss. #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow
— Alice Wong (@SFdirewolf) January 18, 2019
Disability is part of my identity and culture – and you shouldn’t erase that by telling me I shouldn’t call myself disabled, because you see disability as a deficit. #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow
— Carly Findlay OAM (@carlyfindlay) January 18, 2019
Telling your loud and curious children to "Sshhhh!" is actually not helpful and only teaches them that #disability is taboo and not to be talked about and understood.#ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow
— Eugene*Grant (@MrEugeneGrant) January 18, 2019
So #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow if I go or with my family chances are I won’t be able to sit with them.
— Tanni Grey-Thompson (@Tanni_GT) January 19, 2019
other disabled people are incredible sources of knowledge, compassion, and understanding, and often know more than medical and care professionals #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow
— nix et alia 🦢 (@silverswansong) January 18, 2019
If you are wondering what #ableism is, how it interacts with other parts of people's identity, or if you feel awkward or at a loss around disabled people, read and learn from #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow
— Sara Polak (@Sara_Polak) January 18, 2019
I couldn’t agree more with the last one: the hashtag shares vital insight and knowledge, and it’s something everyone should read, understand and, where appropriate, contribute to.
But this isn’t the only brilliant disability-related hashtag – here are some others well worth checking out @Keah_Maria‘s #disabledandcute, Alice Wong‘s #SuckItAbleism, @BlondeHistorian’s #JustAskDontGrab and @StayUpLateUK’s #nobedtimes.
To all those tirelessly campaigning for increased understanding and access for disabled people, thank you. If you’re non-disabled and want to be a good ally you can find some useful advice here and here. We must keep finding ways to connect with, listen to, and amplify the messages of disabled people.
My tics love creating hashtags too, but I don’t expect to see these trending anytime soon: “#ILoveDonkeyHair”, “#AllenKeysAreDangerous” or “#YourDingleOrYourDangle”