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Archive for March 27th, 2012

Dear friends and allies:

 

Most of you received Zoe’s moving e-mail message last week, announcing March 30th as a national day of mourning for George Hodgins, Tracy Latimer and other disabled people murdered by family members and caregivers. She asked folks to organize local candlelit vigils in their own communities in their memory. We’ve received a tremendous response, and there is still time to make plans to join us at one of the many vigil sites listed below or consider organizing your own.

 

As we prepare for our own activism and remembrance, it would serve us well to think about similar work being done among other marginalized communities. As you most likely already know from the news, last month Trayvon Martin – a young, African-American teenager – was shot and killed while walking through a Florida gated community. Despite the clear identification of his killer by police and the fact that Trayvon carried no weapon more dangerous than a bag of skittles, not a single arrest has been made. For the last several weeks, activists and community members from across the country have rallied to call attention to this injustice and demand action.

 

I believe there is a common thread between Trayvon Martin’s and George Hodgins’ deaths. Representations of race in the media and entertainment industries tell Americans that a black teenager walking through an upscale community should be looked at as a potential criminal. The same media and entertainment industries tell family members and caregivers that life with a disability is not worth living, that taking our lives should be viewed as acts of mercy rather than acts of murder. People learn to fear young black men from the same place that teaches them that a disabled child is a burden on society destined to ruin the lives of his or her parents.

 

There is a direct line between the media’s representations of race and disability and the murders of George Hodgins and Trayvon Martin. As we gather this Friday, I ask you to consider these connections. Sometimes, when advocates speak out against offensive and unethical representations of disability in advertising, television and elsewhere in the public sphere, critics claim that these issues don’t matter. They contend that focusing on how people are talked about is a distraction from talking about how people are treated. As these recent atrocities have shown us, it is impossible to discuss one without the other. Let us never forget that.


Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Ari Ne’eman

 

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