I was half-watching the SuperBowl last night (until the end—that end!) but caught Airbnb's "We Accept" ad. It flashed faces of different ethnicities as these words popped up:
who you are
where you're from
who you love
or who you worship
we all belong.
The world is
the more you
It's a timely message for the world, in light of the immigration ban. It's timely for me, too, because I am constantly trying to help people understand that Max belongs, and to encourage acceptance. And I wished that a person with disability had been included. Sure, you could argue that's not the point of an ad like this, given what's happening out there. But I'd argue that including people with disability in ads is always timely, and necessary, especially when one is making a plea for diversity.
Embracing diversity means accepting religions other than yours and skin of all colors. That, people know. Embracing diversity also means accepting people of all abilities. That, people often don't think about, in my experience. While I hope that parents are having conversations about their children about accepting those with disability, I'm not so sure. Over the years, I've found that kids and adults can get uncomfortable around Max, and don't know how to behave or make conversation. I am glad to pave the way; I just wish it weren't such an uphill effort.
"Yes, he talks, in his own way," I'll respond as Max is standing right there.
"He understands you—ask him how old he is!"
[In my head] Would you quit staring at him?
"Yes, people with cerebral palsy can walk. CP affects everyone differently."
[In my head] Please don't make it like my son is a tragedy.
"You can just say 'hi!'"
I mean, it's not like including a person with disability in a Super Bowl ad about diversity would change everything. As if. But it would be one step in the right direction. This recent article on Forbes.com by a professor of marketing noted that diversity is "the new norm" in Super Bowl ads. But I don't think there was one person with disability in any of this year's Super Bowl commercials. Last year, there was a girl with Down syndrome in a Super Bowl ad for SunTrust bank (at second 38); another little girl with DS appeared in a 2015 McDonald's ad that aired during the Super Bowl (at 52 seconds). These do not exactly a trend make.
It's more important than ever to accept different ethnicities and religions. There's no question about that.
And it's just as important to this mother today, as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow, for people to accept those like my son.