Current Events Reflections

The Irony of Using Ableist Memes to Shame Kaepernick


In the past few days, America has found itself twisted into a tizzy over the silent protest of San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick over the police history of the brutal treatment of people of color, specifically African Americans, by police. As soon as Kaepernick decided not to stand for the National Anthem memes popped up across the social media sphere of the player next to disabled citizens and veterans who were unable to stand for the pledge but surely desired to. Effectively using one minority to shame another into silence.


Despite acting out a vestige of slavery and colonialism to distract protesters and the public from the real issue at hand, what all of these posters fail to realize is that while Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality was on behalf of black people, police brutality also disproportionately affects people with disabilities. I’ve written in this before, so as you know, it is estimated that 30-50% of victims of police brutality are mentally or physically disabled. So, people using disabled people to shame Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality used the images of people equally as likely (if not more than likely) to be the victim of police brutality as people of color.

With the recent deaths at the hands of police of disabled men in the headlines, days ago, I challenged those with disabilities on Twitter to tweet what makes them #DangerouslyDisabled. I had expected many of those responding to be as sarcastic as I am to respond mocking the notion that people with visible disabilities could be dangerous to law enforcement. But my privilege as someone whose disability is immediately apparent clouded my expectations. What I witnessed, however, was the reality: disabled people are genuinely afraid of what may happen to them at the hands of Law enforcement. Below are some of those tweets. Please heed them and join the conversation using #DangerouslyDisabled


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