Bif Notes No. 16 The Danger of Putting Allies on a Pedestal

I’ve been seeing a lot of people on social media lately cautioning that famous people shouldn’t be placed on pedestals. This has come about largely in response to news of past mistakes of several individuals coming to light and now having negative effects on their careers. Fans are being cautioned to remember that famous people are, first and foremost just that, people. They are fallible and capable of making, and subsequently learning from, mistakes. This is also, I think, a good practice to have in regards to allies that you look up to the disability community.

It is very much worth remembering that those people you consider to be allies and fighting for disability rights, are no less imperfect than anyone else. They are constantly learning and changing as advocates, and might at times have opinions and views that are either ableist or otherwise harmful to the disability rights movement. This in no way means that they are not real allies or that they cannot do the work of activism. If they are dedicated to disability rights and open to understanding the mistakes that they make, progress can be made. For this reason, refrain from idolozing or putting other allies on a pedestal.

There is one more, possibly even more important, reason to not put your favorite allies on a pedestal. There is a very real possibility, especially if you are a person with poor balance, or issues with mobility or muscle weakness, that attempting to place another person atop a pedestal will result in injury to one or both of you. This is even more likely if both of you are disabled in some way. So stay safe. Remember that people are fallible, but also capable of growth. Be a force that enables that growth and fosters a better disability community.

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