Jerry Lewis is the host of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Annual Telethon, a telethon that occurs every Labor Day to raise funds for cures by using disabled people as posterchildren. Disabled people protest the telethon because of its outdated, negative portrayal of disabilities. These images that the telethon promotes sticks in people’s minds and continually serve as a barrier for disabled people. Disability is not the problem, but rather the attitudes and barriers that society places on us.
What can we do? Protest. Write a Letter to the Editor. Tell people about the charity, medical, and social model of disability. Blog. Kara and I, along with the Disability Activist Collective (website coming soon) are organizing a campaign against the telethon and the charity model of disability. We need bloggers (not only disability bloggers but all! feminist, queer, woc, environmentalist, activists, great time to build alliances) who will agree to write about this! The campaign will work much like a blog carnival and will be heavily publicized in listservs and other sources of media. We encourage you to participate! To participate, please a comment or email us a firstname.lastname@example.org We will be announcing the campaign on Thursday via media and will tell them to check the website postings on Monday. The campaign will be posted on Kara’s site.
Here are more links you can check out to find out more:
- “When I sit back and think a little more rationally, I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person … and get on with my life.” –Jerry Lewis on what disability must be like.
- “People with disabilities are proud citizens, not objects of pity! We will not stay in our houses. We will protest the Jerry Lewis Telethon this Labor Day!” —cripcommentary.com
- The Kids Are Alright!
- “Pity? [If] you don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in ya house!”—Jerry Lewis
A template letter the Disability Activist Collective wrote for you to use:
To the editor,
We write in protest of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)’s Labor Day telethon. The telethon is based off of the ableist idea [discrimination shown by favoring people who are not disabled] that people with disabilities are tragic victims. The disability community refers to this as the charity model of disability because it categorizes disabled people as nothing more than the objects of pity.. As people with disabilities, we do not need pity. We want and deserve equal access to public space and services and respect as fully participating members of society.
Many non-disabled people believe that exploiting people with disabilities on TV (through actions such as this telethon) is okay, as long as the funds go to “helping” to find a “cure.” We want the world to hear directly from us. We want the world to know that no amount of money can make pity and discrimination okay. Our society would not promote a cure for gender or race; why is disability any different? We fight for disability to be viewed as a natural part of life and not as something that needs to be changed.
With disability pride!!
Disability Activist Collective