Stella Young died young —probably too young to have realized the massive awareness she generated when she coined the term Inspiration Porn. It is in her memory that I take her concept of normie feel-good pity and turn it into a poetic rant.
Inspiration porn is
using our disabled stories
as a way to uplift yours, but doing so
by putting us down, and framing our struggles
into little happy pictures about overcoming our bodies
while you feel grateful you’re not us,
and say this to us
with an Amen or a God Bless You because your version of God
will justify your ableist crap,
and you expect us to accept one scrap of your charity
at a time, on your time when the time is convenient
to you, and you donate to your favorite charity,
one of the many that inspire, like, you think,
all cripples should.
Inspiration porn teaches you
that it is our job as disabled people
to make sure you feel blessed, lucky, and grateful
that you don’t have to live
our broken lives.
Inspiration porn is how disabled people are used.
We are forced to feed the broken conscience of those
who’d rather ignore us.
We are forced to share our scars,
our pain, our success, our art
through a voice of forced gratitude,
sending the message
that without your non-disabled help,
we are too pitifully crippled
to contribute anything,
to dream up anything.
And that’s just some of the bull shit
crips are forced to believe.
We speak in words of constant gratitude.
We’ve convinced ourselves
that unless our experiences are validated by the normies,
our crip truths are not worth sharing.
Society is convinced
that disabled people are meant to be
a non-stop source of pity-rooted admiration.
Your interactions with us
are the hooks you throw
into the pond of our imprisoned desires –our desire for inclusion
our desire for equality,
our desire to break free and share
who we truly are.
You turn our hunger
into your chance
to feed your ego, build heaven brownie points, and become part
of the passive-aggressive oppression of disabled people.
We are not here to help you grow
at the expense of our own identity.
With are not here to help you accentuate your day
with that Amen or that Hallelujah
that celebrates the dismissal of our humanity.
Inspiration porn is when you can’t see humanity
in the disabled people you cage in institutions,
and seeing our oppression as a photo-op for your organization,
the chance to document our struggles as your success,
put a label on a file
that secures funding
to help empower the cripples who you think are nothing
without the good deeds caught on film.
Inspiration porn is your lack of shame when you do all this.
Inspiration porn is doing all this and thinking you’re doing us a favor
by offering us cookie-cutter models of inclusion,
and feed us an illusion of equality
while you praise your own kindness in public
in the name of the Lord.
Inspiration porn is when the only opportunity you give us
is the opportunity to be your prop —the token cripple
in your fake story of equality
where you get to claim full credit
for offering the appearance
that you give a shit.
Your shit sandwiches presented as caviar,
cripples bought them!
Invite Maria R. Palacios to speak at your next event. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org