Dear The Mighty Team,
Please, listen to our voices.
We have something to say.
We are vocal.
And it’s time for you to hear them.
You keep saying you want to bring people together. I was chased out of the Mighty Writer’s group. Why? Because I didn’t agree with the tone. I was verbally abused, chastised, and torn down by the parents. Guess what? They’ve won. They’ve chased out a writer with disabilities. I hope they feel good about themselves. I hope they have warm, fuzzy feelings for taking over yet another platform.
You allow your parents to say things like “I am my child’s only voice”, when their child HAS a voice, a valid one – they just have to choose to listen to it. It may be unorthodox, but it’s there. You allow your parents to say “I’m living with autism” when they do not have it themselves. You allow your parents to martyr themselves. And you essentially allow them to bully the people with disabilities and gang up against them, to the point where they are scared to write for you. Hell, I had to LEAVE the group because of how bad things were getting. That is not remotely acceptable. Why should I have to leave because I’m being told all sorts of horrible things, and the parents don’t even get a slap on the wrist?
You say you want to change and be all inclusive. Do you? Do you really? Do you dare walk in our shoes? Do you dare try to possibly alienate your largest platform, parents, in trying to include us? Because you will. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to let the parents take over, once again, what was supposed to be a space for disabilities?
I’m not denying that parents need a place to talk. In fact, I encourage it. I love hearing their perspectives. But it should never come at the expense of their child. Giving explicit details about meltdowns and bathroom needs is not support, it’s not raising awareness. It’s exploiting a vulnerable child. It’s telling a child that they’re a lesser being. There, there, it’s okay to post this because you’re disabled. No. Stop. Rewind. If you wouldn’t post it about your non disabled child or if you wouldn’t want it published about yourself, then why is it okay to publish it about your disabled child?
You have given me opportunities I have never dreamed of by writing with you, such as my post being republished by frick-fracking SESAME STREET (which, anyone who knows me knows I’m a diehard Sesame Street fan. After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I flailed and screamed and then burst into happy tears). You have expanded my audience, and if my articles have changed the mind of just one person, then it’s worthwhile for publishing with you.
But I’m worried. I’m worried you are going to just continue to use disabled writers here and there, so people can claim “See, they aren’t ableist, they use disabled writers!”. People with disabilities can be ableist. I’m not innocent of it myself. I’ve been ableist in the past and I still fuck up now and then.
If you want to make The Mighty a platform for parents, go ahead, but I’ll be disappointed. If you want to make it a place where people can truly share their experience – THEIRS (not at the expense of a child’s dignity), I think you can but you will have to make some radical shifts. Many changes will have to happen. Are you willing to take that risk?