By Áine Kelly-Costello
Opinion – On Monday, as Stuff started the method of apologising to Māori for 163 years of protection involving racism, stigma and dangerous stereotypes, I flicked between the outlet’s in-depth options and my Twitter feed.
I’m Pākehā, and do not for a second faux to grasp the entrenched ache of dwelling as Māori, or in any other case as a black, indigenous or particular person of color, in our society constructed on colonialism and white supremacy.
However from the lens of being a disabled one that’s additionally labored as a journalist, I really feel each for the reporters working to make a dent in institutional practices which have severed the belief of communities for hundreds of years, and equally for these Māori who really feel most secure by retaining at a distance from the media, apology or not.
Disabled folks, too, are sometimes caught between wanting the possibility for our tales and views to be platformed, on the one hand, and the concern of their misrepresentation, on the opposite.
Even though we’re as particular person as any non-disabled particular person, simplistic, stereotyped, voyeuristic or ableist media representations nonetheless affect upon perceptions about disabled folks collectively.
That is a disgrace, as a result of there are such a lot of fascinating, complicated, nuanced, thought-provoking tales journalists might be telling as a substitute. Listed here are 5 suggestions for beginning to change the script.
Centre disabled voices
This sounds apparent, nevertheless it bears repeating. When disabled folks’s views are entrance and centre in tales, we should always cease being portrayed as silent grateful benefactors of heart-warming good deeds, or pitiable individuals who exist to remind non-disabled folks that life might be worse.
Gathering a number of disabled views is useful, not for the sake of pitting us towards one another, however as a mirrored image of the messy actuality, that even on issues referring to, say, incapacity coverage, we’ll have a wide range of takes.
On that be aware, centring disabled voices would not simply contain speaking to disabled folks advocating on incapacity coverage and the like. We’re additionally dad and mom, academics, musicians, athletes, CEOs, vogue designers, you title it. Worth that experience.
No extra “overcoming incapacity”
When tales speak about us “overcoming incapacity”, numerous us hear poisonous positivity. For many individuals who’ve been disabled for a while, the phrase is code for feeling obliged to minimise every little thing about our our bodies and minds that does not match non-disabled norms, with the intention to survive in a world not designed for us. That is exhausting and it is nothing to have a good time.
We do need to have the ability to have a good time our actual accomplishments, not our mixing in or masking or code-switching skills. It is also ridiculously laborious to name for change when it is drilled into us that good disabled individuals are grateful for care, do not rock the boat and have an unfailingly optimistic outlook on life.
Give disabled folks company
Until we ourselves inform you that we’re “struggling” from a incapacity or continual sickness, or “confined” to a wheelchair, we’re unlikely to be a fan of that limiting language. It suggests we’re inherently susceptible, taking away the company we want with the intention to clarify which components are disabling us. These components are usually ableist insurance policies and attitudes, and we might like to see extra tales about them. Additionally, incapacity would not need to be within the headline, and even within the story in any respect, simply because a disabled particular person is.
Make use of and fee disabled writers
If the media we produce goes to be reflective of Aotearoa in all its variety, it does assist if the folks producing it appear to be Aotearoa.
Making that occur for disabled folks seems to be like considering via the place job functions and open calls attain, how accessible the recruitment processes and work premises are, and whether or not there’s an open surroundings the place potential and new staff really feel snug asking for cheap lodging.
Additionally, simply because somebody is disabled would not routinely imply they wish to write, or solely write, disability-related tales.
Critique the established order
Lastly, as this sensible podcast on objectivity and journalism places it, objectivity is solely the ideology of the established order.
On this case, the established order consists of a principally non-disabled media trade producing tales for a presumed non-disabled viewers.
The higher served every of us is by that established order, the much less seemingly we’re to ask who it would not serve and why. As journalists, I believe it is our job to continually ask ourselves that query and report on what we discover.
– Áine Kelly-Costello is a journalist and campaigner from Aotearoa, finishing her Masters diploma from the College of Gothenburg, Sweden.