Respecting disabled people is, unfortunately, something of a final frontier when it comes to the too-slowly evolving culture of kindness and respect that so many of us are fighting for. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are biases that most Americans reject as unacceptable, but somehow, disrespecting the disabled isn’t something that sparks widespread criticism, or even gentle nudging toward betterment. When it comes to representation in media, it’s an even sadder state. Beyond a president who mocked a disabled journalist during the election campaign, we still see prevalent usage of words like “crippled” and “paralyzed” when we mean anything but.
It’s this harsh climate—the margins where so many disabled folks have been forced for far too long—that brings us #AbledsAreWeird, a hashtag created by disability activist Imani Barbarin on Friday. The stories told as the hashtag quickly climbed Twitter’s trending list are both startling in their cruelty and shocking in their frequency. Microaggressions are too real, and the able-bodied are hurling them at the disabled community with far too much regularity.
Let’s go to the tweets and learn a thing. Chances are, we can all do better when it comes to respecting our disabled friends and neighbors.