Race, Disability and Justice in the Media


root - Posted on 06 August 2007

POOR Magazine is making changes in the way the mainstream media covers issues of race, disability, poverty and justice.

by Leroy F. Moore

Back in 1999, I started writing for POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork. I had been desperately trying to find a media outlet that would listen to and publish my stories on the struggles, talents, and rights of disabled people of color. At that time there was very little in any form of media about disabled people of color, and although there have been some positive changes recently, the mass media still in 2007 has a laissez-fair approach when it comes to issues in the disabled community and they are still individualizing not connecting our issues and news to the larger social justice picture.

Although mainstream and, yes even some of our progressive media outlets still have a laissez-faire approach when it comes to disability, it doesn’t mean that people with disabilities are not creating newsworthy headlines. From the political arena to music studios and even in Hollywood people with disabilities are starting to play a major role in politics, music, art and much more; however the mainstream and a lot of progressive media have chosen to not cover our groundbreaking stories. And, if they do cover a story about the disabled community, they almost always use out-of-date terminology or worst talk to experts in the field about disability not to the people living with the disability. How many media outlets reported on the record amount of disabled candidates who ran for political office in last year°¶s election or the recent police shooting of a disabled elderly woman in Atlanta?

The June US Social Forum in Atlanta will provide the groundbreaking opportunity to change how the media is portraying the issues affecting the disabled community by producing stories in the Peoples Media Center and The People Press Room controlled by grassroots journalist\activists. Atlanta is not only the home of CNN but is also the birth place of a new media network
EF.TV, which is not only for people with disabilities but also completely run by people with disabilities. POOR Magazine has worked with grassroots and disabled media outlets like EF.TV throughout the entire U.S. for many years.

In the Peoples Media Center and The Peoples Press Room at the US Social forum (USSF) slated to happen in Atlanta in June, a radical form of media production will take place. Launched by poverty, race, disability and youth scholars at POOR Magazine/PoorNewsNetwork, a non-profit media, arts and education organization, The Peoples Media Center will educate, facilitate and set up collaborations between established corporate, independent, ethnic and alternative media producers and global and local poverty and race scholars. These radical collaborations will result in the production of several forms of media (radio, TV, on-line and print) about a multitude of issues, events, and actions, but these stories will be told through the voices of the real experts, those experiencing the issues being written about.

As well as, we will work to build long-term collaborations between established corporate, independent, ethnic and alternative media and the race, poverty and disability scholars to create ongoing channels of media access, syndication, and new reporting models. These will provide sustainability to new media voices and society at large with long-term real and actionable solutions to poverty, homelessness, police abuse, gentrification, displacement, incarceration, violence, immigration and much more.

I remember in 1992 when POOR Magazine and the Disability Advocates of Minorities Organization held a press conference and a veteran disabled Latino organizer looked at the small crowd and noticed once again that the mainstream media was not there. He shouted, "If they don't come to us, we will go to them. Mainstream media, you're going to get your ass picketed!" Almost fourteen years later we, POOR Magazine stand alongside people with disabilities at the US Social Forum and demand an end to the mainstream media's Laissez faire approach to disabled issues and lives!

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