Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Letter to the Editor of The Mighty

There has been much criticism about The Mighty within the Autistic and Disability communities. All of this came to a head on Sunday Decemeber 20th when The Mighty published an article called Meltdown BINGO that was making fun of the meltdowns Autistic people have. After a lot of blowback, they decided to remove the article and the next day published a note from the editor apologizing (in a kinda sorta way) and asking for feedback. So, I wrote to the editor and gave her my feedback. If you would like to write to the editor of The Mighty her email is megan@themighty.com

Below is my email. I'm sure I missed some points others may make, that is why it is important that people send in their own concerns to The Mighty. 


Dear Megan,


I would like to start of by introducing myself and telling you a bit about who I am. My name is Kim (on Facebook I am Kimberly Faith, on Twitter I am K1mmyR0cks and I blog at Eccentricities and Introspection on blogger). I am a 36 year old Autistic mother to 3 teenagers with my oldest being Autistic. I volunteer my time with Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance and Autism Women's Network . I am also one of the major players in the Boycott Autism Speaks movement.

I am invested in Neurodiversity, disability pride, authentic inclusion, presumption of competence, intersectional activism, youth rights and so much more. I am also one of the critics of The Mighty. 


When you published the article explaining why you removed the Meltdown BINGO article you asked for feedback. I really hope that was sincere, because I don't like to waste my time. I am not looking to be featured on your site, I am just looking to help you understand where you all get things so very wrong. It is going to be very hard to get every explanation you may need to fully understand the concepts I am going to touch on in this email, so please ask questions if you need to. 

 I've read your bio on the site and followed the link to the HuffPo post on you being a [good news] porn producer. One of the problems so many have with the mighty is the inspiration porn you produce. Inspiration porn is the objectification of disabled people to make nondisabled people feel good and The Mighty is loaded with it. Are you familiar with Stella Young's TED talk? (I'm sure you are to a certain degree) I'm going to link it here and I want you to seriously consider all the things she says in the video. If you don't have time to watch the video there is a transcript.

http://www.ted.com/.../stella_young_i_m_not.../transcript...

One thing I believe you are trying to do right is include disabled voices. However, you are choosing the voices that still fit your production of inspiration porn. That is not equally representative of the community and it does not help. In order to shift perspectives you're going to have to shake it up and get off the ableism fence.  You can't advocate for the rights, the acceptance and inclusion of disabled people while also giving a platform to ableism. There really is no balance where bigotry is concerned, no grey area. It really is very black and white even though many people have a hard time understanding what ableism really is and/or looks like since it is so prevalent in our daily lives.

I think those of you at The Mighty have a problem seeing the ableism so many of us see and this is why you need what I would consider more radical disabled people on board your team. It’s also very important that you understand that just because someone is a disabled person or parent doesn’t mean they can’t be ableist.

I think another major thing you could have great impact on is changing the narrative surrounding parenting disabled children. As of right now your site plays into the same old narratives as every other parent centric site. Currently the narrative is doom/gloom, pity and martyrdom.


Parenting is super hard. I think it's the hardest job I'll ever have and I would never deny that it is challenging.  I've participated in many online and in person support groups for parents of disabled children and no matter how positive the environment is supposed to be, the same narratives apply and like I said, The Mighty is no exception.

I believe with all of my being that parents need and deserve support. But, they deserve the right type of support and I don't think many parents even know what that looks like. Toxic support is rampant in the disability community and it feels so darn good many don't even see the toxicity. It's akin to an AA meeting being held in a bar where everyone is ordering drinks while talking about their addiction to alcohol and how they really want to get sober but... and the members of the AA group give hugs and tell each other that it's okay it's just too hard. I mean, sure, those people in that AA group feel supported and it feels good, but the outcome of that support is not a positive one. Same applies to the *woe as me* support groups for parents.

Parents of disabled children are often allowed to get away with saying and doing some of the most heinous things because society refuses to tell them they are wrong. The support community built around parenting disabled kids tells everyone that we should never judge a fellow parent because it's just *so hard* This is dangerous. It really is important that someone stand up and tell them they are wrong. Someone has to stand up for the children, but many won’t.

Some other things I've noticed in these toxic support environments is that it is so very rare that anyone wants to learn anything. I've seen the same whining and complaining over and over from the SAME parents that never take any solutions and want to learn nothing. They don't care about their child's dignity or how to help them, they only want pity.

Your site perpetuates ALL those things.

There is a way to write about parenting disabled children without sacrificing the dignity of the child. I think one of the things The Mighty should start focusing on is the fact that parenting isn’t about parents, but it’s about the children we are supposed to be supporting. All too often parents take everything so personally and/or make their child’s struggles about them. I wrote a bit about that here if you’d like to further explore what I am talking about.

I think another thing that would be super important for you to do is to start touching on how parents help their children to internalize ableism. I also wrote a little bit about that HERE if you care to take a look.

You have a huge platform, one that could potentially change so much. So why would you want to be just like every other site out there? Is the popularity worth disabled people’s humanity? Because that is the cost.
text reads You have a huge platform, one that could potentially change so much.
So why would you want to be just like every other site out there?
Is the popularity worth disabled people’s humanity?
Because that is the cost.
background a dark red textured one


I will leave you with a few sites and bloggers you can look into for guidance.


Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance (a community)
Autism Women’s Network (a nonprofit)
Autism and Neurodiversity in the Classroom (a community)
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (A nonprofit)
Nonspeaking Autistic Speaking (links to all the blogs Amy Sequenzia has written)
Thirty Days of Autism (A blog by Leah Kelley)
Unstrange Mind (A blog by Sparrow Jones)
We are Like Your Child (a blog with various disabled writers)
Respectfully Connected (a blog)
We Always liked Picasso Anyway (A blog by Lei Wiley-Mydske)
Radical Neurodivergence Speaking (A blog by Kassiane Sibley)
The Giraffe Party (A blog by Jennifer Muzquiz)

Neurocosmopolitanism (blog by Nick Walker)
Ollibean (a community)

And so many more that I am probably forgetting. If you want to get a more extensive list you can reference this list on PACLA’s blog. You can also follow the AWN FB page, it is updated nearly every day with posts from various people.

I sincerely hope you are really ready to make a change.

Thank you for your time,

Kim



You can find my Follow Up On this HERE

2 comments:

  1. I wrote a post on The Mighty's systemic temperamental discrimination.

    ReplyDelete