#157 - #DisabledAndCute with Keah Brown

Posted April 4, 2017

Writer Keah Brown talks with Shaun about her viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute.

Follow Keah on Twitter: @keah_maria

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SHAUN: Hello, and welcome to ‘No, Totally!’ My name is Shaun. This is a weekly conversation about movies and other important things. This week we are going to talk about a very important thing with a special guest. She is a writer, she has appeared in Teen Vogue, ESPNW, LitHub, um… sorry, what’s the full name of LitHub?

KEAH: Literary Hub.

SHAUN: Okay well that seems obvious now that you’ve said it. (Keah laughs) Literary Hub. This is…you already hear her voice, her name is Keah Brown. Hello, Keah.

KEAH: Hi! I’m so happy to be on the… show, the podcast.

SHAUN: Thank you, I’m so happy to have you. And the main reason that I have you here, even though you’ve written extensively on a number of subjects that I find interesting, and as you know I’m a big fan of your work; you created a hashtag recently called #DisabledAndCute on Twitter.

KEAH: I did.

SHAUN: And it kinda…it made the rounds, for sure. And I wanted to talk to you about the hashtag, how it came about, kind of what the thinking is behind it, and then if we have time we’ll try to put together a plea for you to get on the Ellen show, which I know is a—

KEAH: Yes, please.

SHAUN: Yes. Something that we need to make happen. But yeah, so talk to me about starting the hashtag #DisabledAndCute.

KEAH: So I started it because, at the end of 2016, in December, I woke up and I looked terrible, but I was like wow, you know? Like I looked at myself in the mirror after brushing my teeth and I was like “Oh, you’re kinda cute.” You know this person looking back at you was cute. So I didn’t really think much of it, I was like oh, you know, that’s nice, but it’s a passing thing it’s not going to last.

SHAUN: Mm.

KEAH: And then in February, the day before I posted the hashtag, so February 11th of 2017 I was like, oh no you still feel this way. Like, you’re waking up every day and complimenting yourself, you should celebrate that. So, the next day I posted like four of my favorite selfies and added the #DisabledAndCute hashtag to the post, and then I posted it. So originally the hashtag was just for me, like I didn’t think anything of it, I was just like, oh you know, I’m disabled and cute. Finally, thank God. And then… (laughs) and then I encouraged other people to use it, but it wasn’t like… I set out to, you know, create a viral hashtag. I was just like, “Oh maybe a couple of people will use it and call it a day. But you know, I want to remember this moment that I finally feel good in my body”, and so I created it, that’s how it happened.

SHAUN: Yeah, and so can I, just biographically can I ask what your disability is?

KEAH: Oh absolutely. It’s Cerebral Palsy.

SHAUN: Okay. Yeah, and in case… in case people don’t really… aren’t really familiar with…

KEAH: Yeah. I’m just gonna say. It’s different, I don’t want to say types because I don’t think types is the right word. But I guess there’s different… levels of it? I have a more milder case, so I don’t need any mobility aids, but what cerebral palsy is, is like a malformation in the brain while the child is developing, so it just affects your motor skills. Like my reaction time on the right side of my body, and like the usage of the right side of my body is not as…what’s the word I’m looking for, like basically I can’t use my right hand in the same way that I can my left, I have a limp so my right leg drags a little bit behind my left one, and it takes me a little longer to do everyday things like, you know, walk places or you know… put on clothes, so it’s like a… it’s basically like a disability wherein your motor skills are affected.

SHAUN: Right. Uh so, there’s a lot packed in just to the name of the hashtag itself right, because…#DisabledAndCute that kind of, that gets into and signifies the way in which society kind of feels that those two things are mutually exclusive, and actually, like I made a really embarrassing and terrible mistake when we were talking just before recording where I said, where I mis-stated the hashtag as ‘disabled but cute’ and like, that’s… I mean obviously I feel really bad, but I want to at the same time kind of interrogate that as well, because it almost feels like that, that’s what you’re going at, that perception’s what you’re going at. Which is that well, disabled people are inherently not able to be cute, and me mistaking the hashtag as ‘disabled but cute’, kind of communicates this idea of, “Well, you’re disabled, but you’re attractive enough to kind of get…

KEAH: Past

SHAUN: -past that.” Yeah. Which is awful and horrendous, and obviously I apologize. But like, can you talk to me about that, like everything that’s packed into that hashtag really in just those three words?

KEAH: Okay, so, for me I chose ‘and’, the word ‘and’ was used purposely because I was like, people don’t, they don’t see them as two things. If you’re disabled you’re like, automatically unattractive, you… you’re broken, you’re wrong, there’s something not right there. And so, with the word ‘cute’ so often you know, able-bodied people use it against disabled people. They’ll be like “Oh that’s so cute, you’re adorable.”

SHAUN: Mhm.

KEAH: Like we’re children. But I was like, I want to reclaim the word cute itself like people do with cripple, and I want to use that because that’s the way that I feel. A lot of people were upset that I used the word cute instead of like, sexy or fine or beautiful, and I was like… no, but this is the word that makes me most comfortable.

SHAUN: Mm.

KEAH: So I guess for me it’s just a statement about the fact that people can be both, they’re not, like you said mutually exclusive, and it was kind of a… I guess, way to protest the idea that it’s either one or the other.

SHAUN: Right. So when did people start using the hashtag? Talk to me about how it kind of took off after you used it, like you said, in a personal sense?

KEAH: It was almost immediately which was surprising to me.

SHAUN: Mm.

KEAH: There was like four or five people right away, like right after I posted it, and then I left Twitter for like an hour, probably to work on an essay or something, and I came back and it was already trending. And I didn’t even know, but somebody like sent me like a screenshot of the trending page on Twitter, and so it happened really quickly. But let’s see, I made it on a Sunday, so I think it was like really viral by like Tuesday morning, that Tuesday morning. Um, so it was really quick. And it was just a lot of people sharing their pictures, and like… some of them had their mobility aids in them, some of them didn’t. Some people said what their disabilities were, and other people didn’t. Cause I think people were just like, trying to validate themselves?

SHAUN: Mhm.

KEAH: I think people were like, maybe I should say it, say what it is so people know that I am, but I was like… no, you don’t have to. You know, it’s not like you have a point to prove.

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: Just share what you want, and then you know, I’ll retweet my favorite ones. And I was just… at that point I was just retweeting everyone I saw, because I was like, “This is so cool!”

SHAUN: Yeah!

KEAH: I didn’t realize that anybody was gonna actually, you know, use this. It was just cool to see a lot of people with different disabilities, and different mobility aids, and some people like myself didn’t have any, it was just like…wow, okay, it’s not just me in this corner of like, “Hey, I’m the only one over here with a disability”. ‘Cause, sometimes it can feel like that, it can feel like you’re the only person… I don’t want to say struggling because that’s the wrong word but like… dealing with it every day?

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: And so it was nice kind of to… see other people and realize, hey you know you’re not the only one in this, it’s a thing that you live with, and other people do as well.

SHAUN: Yeah, I think it’s interesting to me because hashtags, especially hashtags like this where it’s kind of a reclamation of a term or a feeling by a marginalized group, you get some bad reactions sometimes, mostly from the majority group right? Like in this case that would be abled people. Like I feel like people underestimate how much these tags really are… like the power in these tags are that they create so much of a feeling of community for people who feel very disconnected from each other. Do you feel like that happened here?

KEAH: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think… a lot of my push back, that I got personally, was from white disabled people—

SHAUN: Huh.

KEAH: –which again doesn’t surprise me but it surprises a lot of people. They were like, “Oh you know, you’re just creating inspiration porn” – and for people who don’t know what inspiration porn is, it’s just like, these stories about disabled people that are aimed and framed in the idea that they make able-bodied people feel better about themselves, like “I have it bad, but at least I don’t have it as bad as them,” you know?

SHAUN: Mhm.

KEAH: “At least I don’t have a disability, because God that would be the world’s worst thing”. Like those kinds of stories.

SHAUN: Is that, actually, I know I’ve seen a few recently where it’s like, people… people kind of do this thing where it’s like, “Look at this great able-bodied person who asked this disabled person to prom. How fantastic for them…”

KEAH: Yeah, like those. Those are the exact stories I’m talking about, ones that are like “Oh no, this able-bodied person like, befriended this person with Down Syndrome, or like, they were nice to this person on the spectrum…” and it was like… cause these stories often only center the able-bodied person, they don’t talk to the disabled person, they’re just like “Oh no this person is weak and whatever, and this person is just here to build them up.”

SHAUN: Right.

KEAH: “And they’re great, because look at the sacrifice they’re making by speaking to or being around this disabled person.”

SHAUN: Right. Yeah it’s almost like, the implication there is almost like, look at how great this person is because they could have taken somebody quote-unquote ‘better’ to the prom, and they made that sacrifice.

KEAH: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s the idea that like, disability is the thing that’s like the worst and when you have one, or when you interact with somebody with a disability like you automatically deserve like a Nobel peace prize.

SHAUN: (laughs) Right.

KEAH: Or, like… (laughs) You know? It’s like, “Oh no! You’re a world humanitarian!” Like it’s this whole thing with a lot of these stories, it’s like, “Oh let’s get them scholarships, and let’s send them money because they were nice to a disabled person – wow, what a concept!”

SHAUN: Right. People I think have a difficult time kind of separating those kinds of stories from something like #DisabledAndCute, because, I guess if you’re not really paying attention or you’re not in that world, it seems like they’re trying to do the same thing.

KEAH: Yeah.

SHAUN: But it is really really important that it’s… you have ownership over this hashtag, right? This is a hashtag for disabled people to put themselves in a certain perspective, not a mainstream media coming from an abled perspective, and forcing that context upon you. Would you say that’s accurate?

KEAH: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think, for me specifically it was like, “No. This is for us, by us.” I made this, I’m a disabled person, but it’s not like I was looking for the able-bodied gaze, I was just like, “Hey, you know. Here I am. Disabled and cute. This is what you’re gonna get.” And then I think that’s the difference, is that so often with these stories, the person who’s telling it is never a disabled person. If you look at movies like Me Before You

SHAUN: Ugh.

KEAH: And… ugh, God.

SHAUN: I’m sorry to interrupt, but just to let the audience know if they haven’t heard of this movie or forgot, this is a movie where essentially the lead male character who is disabled kind of makes the greatest sacrifice by… does he actually kill himself?

KEAH: I think he does, yeah I think he does and then she gets the insurance money.

SHAUN: Yeah, in order to save the lead female character the ‘burden’ of having to live forever with someone who’s disabled. So you can definitely see the problems – or I hope if you’re listening to this podcast, you can see the kinds of problems in that kind of narrative.

KEAH: Because there’s so many narratives like it. Like, so often when we see this, not only is it white, it’s, “Hey no, we’re sad, and we wanna kill ourselves” and we end up dying in these movies because goodness gracious, the burden on these able-bodied people like, how dare we live?

SHAUN: Yeah, yeah yeah. This is not new to you, right? This, actions like creating #DisabledAndCute, this is something that you… you were not silent really before this, but I do know that you, like you have kind of been on a journey, I don’t know how… recently might not be the right word, but like as far as being more and more open with the person that you kind of perceive yourself as.

KEAH: Absolutely. It’s been a long one.

SHAUN: And I’ve only… yeah, and that’s just been from me following you on Twitter, but yeah, talk about… cause I think this is really, like it’s something that I connect with for sure, this idea of… I don’t even know how to put it because it’s not like, it’s freeing but it’s not freedom. It’s very freeing to be open with the things that you’re comfortable being open with, but it doesn’t kind of equal freedom, because you still have like these… you still have the perception and the burdens from outside society bearing down on you, and in a lot of cases you have even more, because when you’re open about these kinds of things, you become a target. Either in a sense of people look to you, for advice or for inspiration, non-inspiration-porn inspiration—

KEAH: Yeah.

SHAUN: -and sometimes that can be like a good form of attention, but then you also get the bad kind of attention obviously which is the people who are very uncomfortable with a non-straight abled white man, right, like someone who’s in the out group, in one of the out groups, or in all of the out groups, or whatever—

KEAH: Yeah.

SHAUN: -kind of being okay with themselves, like it makes them very uncomfortable.

KEAH: It does.

SHAUN: And that’s kind of a long way of asking the question, how have you found this journey to kind of, project more of yourself, I guess, or to open up and kind of let people see this?

KEAH: I think for me, like I’ve always been a bit of an over-sharer. (Shaun laughs) Like I always like, I regret it later, I’m always… “Keah, maybe you should have said less.” But I never really talked about my disability because I was like, oh no. This is a thing I’m like ashamed of, I don’t want to talk about it, like if I talk about it, then it makes it real?

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: Whereas there’s this small hope where, if I don’t say anything maybe it’ll disappear, you know, maybe I’ll wake up one day and I’ll be able-bodied.

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: I spent I think, up until, what was it? Like… 2014? 2015?… in that sort of mind frame. Like, not talking about it. Like, it was the big elephant in the room, like I just didn’t want to be around other disabled people, I didn’t want to know other disabled people, I wanted like… I was like no. It was an us and them thing, I didn’t want able-bodied people to be like, “Oh well, you know, you’re one of them”. So I was constantly like distancing myself—

SHAUN: Mm.

KEAH: –as though being disabled was like the world’s worst thing. And then… (deep breath) I guess one day I just got tired of not talking about it. ‘Cause you know, it is such a big part of my life and so I was like, well, I talk about everything else, you know? (Shaun laughs) So this might as well be a thing I start talking about. And I think the first time that I talked about it was with Femsplain, I wrote an essay about how I grew up jealous of my twin sister who’s able-bodied, like, how it took me up until college to appreciate her for who she is because I spent so long being jealous of her, just because of the body that she has. So that was the first time that I wrote about it, and then after that it slowly got easier to, and I guess mostly because people kept asking questions, and I was like, oh well I have answers. So, here they are.

SHAUN: Yeah. Would you… okay so again, like, so much of this sounds familiar. Like, I think listeners to this show know that for the first 18 months that I was doing this podcast I didn’t talk at all about being Asian American. And I mean, it’s such a complicated thing because I don’t want to say like I wished that I would one day wake up white, but like… the more I talk about that openly the more there is that kind of thing that people of color and other marginalized people kind of wish but kind of don’t? Right?

KEAH: Yeah.

SHAUN: Because you become comfortable enough with yourself to recognize this, as part of who I am is very special, so it’s not necessarily that I want my skin to be white when I wake up tomorrow, it’s moreso that like, I don’t want to have to deal with the crap that comes with being non-white, right?

KEAH: And that’s the thing, it’s like you don’t want to be that person, but you’re like, it would sure be easier if I was. So yeah, it’s like that. I get, I absolutely get what you’re saying, cause I went through that entire thing twice, with disability and then with race. You don’t want to be anything else, but you’re also like, it would be easier, just a little bit, if I could just navigate life…

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: With… (laugh) some sort of privilege…

SHAUN: Right, right.

KEAH: Like real privilege. Yeah.

SHAUN: Yeah, without these things that inherently set me apart.

KEAH: Yeah.

SHAUN: And what you’re talking about as well, about distancing yourself from other disabled people, it’s like the Asian American model minority thing where it’s kind of like, well I’m not one of those Asians. I’m not one of… I’m not one that has a thick accent, and like, this really harmful kind of segregation of real Asian-ness and real American-ness that Asian Americans… especially later generation ones like me can do. So, I feel like there is a lot of… like, I don’t, I’m trying not to make this about me, but I totally identify with that, and I want to ask because I think I, and a lot of other people, are still in the process… and I think you probably are as well, but we’re still in the process of really being okay with ourselves. There is still… like, I’m not sure that you ever—

KEAH: You don’t. I don’t think you do.

SHAUN: Yeah, like get to that point where you’re like, “I am fully all in on this marginalized identity that I have.”

KEAH: Yeah. No I think it’s like an every day process, forever.

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: Yeah, I do. And I think for me specifically I was just like, “if they group me in with them, then I’m going to be an outsider”. And I was like, desperate to be not on the outside of what I thought was like this, huge amazing thing? And so no matter what anybody’s disability was I was like “Nope. Not on my watch.” Not me. Like, I can’t… I can’t be a part of it, because I was like, the moment that I join in on this thing, in meeting other people with disabilities, is the moment that I become a person with a disability. And I was like, desperate not to be that person.

SHAUN: Yeah. I mean it speaks to how powerful I guess loneliness is, in a society where we kind of decide who can spend time with who—

KEAH: Yeah.

SHAUN: –based on all of these various measures, right. And things that people can’t help, like we’re born like this, and you’re gonna exclude us because of that? Come on. It’s like, hard to even process because it’s so damaging and so perplexing right, to people like us it’s very perplexing to be like, wait seriously? You’re gonna not be cool with me because of that? That just seems really bad and terrible… and obviously bad and obviously terrible.

KEAH: Absolutely, and I think with, mainstream media, so often we pre-empt their sort of ideas of what kind of people we should be, who we hang out with, and like what’s… I guess what’s considered good enough and what’s bad. So I think a lot of it was, I was distancing myself before anybody even said anything, because I was like, I don’t even want to give them a reason to think of me as, oh that’s a disabled girl. You know, she’s disabled. And I’m sure that people did, but I was like… I don’t want to know about it.

SHAUN: Yeah, right. Right.

KEAH: I don’t want you to tell me what we both already know.

SHAUN: Yeah. And I think like, you can tell me if this is true for you as well, but I feel like a lot of my growth and being comfortable with myself in the past few years, comes from me realizing that the quote unquote ‘other Asians’ that I was trying to distance myself from, it’s not really real. It’s like a stereotype and this caricature based on a lot of the American media that I’ve consumed over the course of my life, right?

KEAH: Yes! Yes.

SHAUN: So really what I didn’t want to be was that side-kick and that comedy relief, that’s what I didn’t want to be. But it took me a very very long time to realize that people in the real world were not that either. Right? Like, not every Asian person with an accent is Long Duk Dong or whatever. And so…

KEAH: Yeah.

SHAUN: And so you have a lot to defeat, because of your own stereotypes.

KEAH: It’s like you buy into your own stereotype.

SHAUN: Yes, absolutely. Yeah.

KEAH: You buy into your own stereotype. I was always like, okay, like I would always get weird and cringy whenever I heard another disabled person with a speech impediment, or I know a couple of disabled people who like, they shake? And so it was like, anybody who had a disability that was more severe than mine I guess, I was like oh no no, I can’t be seen with you, because then people will start talking and it will be a whole thing. And I didn’t realize until I was much older that like, that’s a terrible way to look at life and look at people, to just be like, “Oh no, I can’t be like those other disabled people, I can’t be around them.”

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: And so I think yeah, you buy into… I feel like people don’t realize how important representation is, because when you only see one of your identities as this bad thing or this joke or this thing to hate or pity, that’s how you view the thing that you are.

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: And so I think that’s why representation is so important, because people deserve to see other stories, better stories, positive stories with every identity that they have.

SHAUN: Yeah. I feel like as well, we’re gonna need something to empower the next generation and not have them fall into the same traps that we do? Cause I just… feel like so many of us in our generation, and younger and older, like I feel like so many of us have internalized all this so much that we’ve spent the vast majority of our lives chasing this thing that really we’ll never catch, and running away from this thing that we’ll never get away from, because it’s who we are.

KEAH: Yes.

SHAUN: And it’s just… beyond anything else, beyond the fact that it’s hurtful and harmful obviously, and oppressive and erasing, even beyond all of that – and not to say that stuff isn’t important right, or crucial – but even beyond that, it’s literally just a waste of time.

KEAH: It is.

SHAUN: I look back sometimes, and I’m often upset about like ugh, oppression, you know I get really upset about that stuff, but sometimes I look back and I’m just like, man I could have done so much. I spent so much time thinking about stuff that didn’t come from my brain, and doesn’t have anything good to do with me. Like all of this stuff, and if we can get movies like, just all of these movies with harmful representation, if we can stop them or slow them down, then you’re saving future peoples from having to like waste all this time in their lives at a certain degree.

KEAH: Absolutely. Years and years spent resenting something you can’t change.

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: Because, the portrayal that you see of it is negative. And I think there should be, I really hope that there’s a shift in conversation, especially surrounding movies and TV shows, and the people we get to see, and the stories that get told, because like you said, it’ll stop a future generation from internalizing the things that we did.

SHAUN: So let me, I’ve got two kind of final questions for you—

KEAH: Okay.

SHAUN: -and you can stretch out on these as much as you want to, so the first one… and these are kind of cliché, that’s why they’re at the end I guess. (Keah laughs) So, we talk about harmful representation… give me, give me the plot of a movie that features a disabled lead and just kind of give me an idea that would be, you know, not harmful and good in terms of representation.

KEAH: Oh! Okay.

SHAUN: I know I’m just kind of like, dropping this on you without any prep, but…

KEAH: (laughs) No it’s fine. I think, what I would like to see personally, is; One: A disabled person of color. Multiple disabled people of color.

SHAUN: Yeah.

KEAH: Some in mobility aids, some without them.

SHAUN: Mhm.

KEAH: I would like to see like a coming of age story… I love coming of age stories. Those are my jam. And, you know, maybe they fall in love, maybe they… you know, get a job, lose a job, just…I guess following around a character that’s like, that has depth and is more than one dimensional or a funny line. Just I guess to be seen in a positive light is the goal, you know instead of “Oh we’re sad, and we hate ourselves, gosh darn it this body is the worst” like those kinds of narratives, I don’t want. Like I mean, because in reality, of course you have bad days. Years. You know, months. But it would be so nice to see a disabled person of color in a movie have a happy ending.

SHAUN: Right, yeah.

KEAH: And not die at the end, you know? Or sacrifice themselves in some way for an able-bodied character.

SHAUN: Yeah. Actually just as a side-note, this is not my second question but, have you seen the show Super Store with the disabled character in a wheelchair who is a man of color, have you seen that?

KEAH: Yes, Garrett. I love Garrett. There’s a lot of issue there for a lot of people, I feel like I can’t really speak on it cause I’m not a wheelchair user, but he’s not disabled in real life and a lot of people find issue with the idea of ‘crippling up’, which is just like able-bodied actors playing disabled people, and not giving the opportunity to actual disabled actors. But I do love Garrett, I think that he’s funny, and smart, and… a fully realized character in a way that I’ve never seen before. And then there’s… Speechless on ABC that centers a disabled character. And it’s not like he feels bad for himself, or hates himself, so that’s revolutionary. But again, he’s white.

SHAUN: Mmhm.

KEAH: But I guess I have yet to see a black disabled woman on TV, and I said this before, but if I have to be the first one, then so be it, right?

SHAUN: Right, right!

KEAH: Like, I’ll volunteer! So yeah, that’s what I really want to see.

SHAUN: Once, once we get you on Ellen that might be a little easier.

KEAH: Yes, Ellen!

SHAUN: So, the second question I had was – and again, cliché, but because it is such a hard thing to kind of, to talk about and be open about loving these parts of ourselves that society says are bad, what would you say to someone who maybe wanted to participate in the hashtag but kind of didn’t feel comfortable this time? Obviously I just want to lay this groundwork by saying, I don’t think you’re the kind of person who would be like “Hey, do it even if you’re uncomfortable because we want people to be…”

KEAH: “Do it! You better do it right now!”

SHAUN: (laughs) You know, like, posting pictures of yourself online is like a whole deal even without a hashtag, so you want to be mindful of that.

KEAH: Yeah absolutely.

SHAUN: But like if someone is looking for a little bit of small push, you know, reasoning as to why they should participate next time, what would you say?

KEAH: Well what I’m hoping people understand is I would like this to be a movement. You know, the hashtag isn’t going anywhere, so… whenever you feel most comfortable, you know. That’s when you should post. But also, I want people to know you don’t have to post pictures, you can just make a regular tweet with the hashtag, and I’m always down to go in and retweet people. So if you’re afraid that like, no-one’s gonna see it, or you know. I guess give it some sort of like or attention. Trust me, I’ll be right in the tag like, “Yes! So cute! Love your glasses, love your shirt, love your mobility aid”. So I think, just do it when you’re ready, there’s no pressure, it’s always gonna be there, I’m always gonna be checking it just to see if there’s anything new, and if you don’t feel comfortable enough to post a picture, don’t. Just make a tweet, and I’ll retweet that too.

SHAUN: Nice. And, let’s see, okay so. Finally, how do we get you on Ellen? What do we need to do?

KEAH: I don’t know, but we have to do it.

SHAUN: There’s a hashtag though, you have a hashtag right?

KEAH: I do. (laughs) I do. #GetKeahOnEllen was the hashtag. And I’ve just been tweeting her, and her executive producer Andy? I think that’s what his position is. And I’m just like, “Hey girl, hey Andy… listen. Here’s what I did.” I even sent them, a couple days ago, the press page on my website, like “Look at all these people that talked about it! Don’t you wanna be next?” Or I’ll tweet her and be like, “I’m practicing my dance moves, just in case.” Ah, I don’t know. There’s also a nominate people to be on Ellen page on her website, so… it’s just like, you know. You take a picture of me, and then you share it with her with a story of why I should be on the show, that’s there. So if you wanna do that, if you wanna nominate me to be on Ellen. That would be great. So I guess, just keep tweeting her and hopefully she sees it, ‘cause I really wanna be on the show.

SHAUN: Yeah, I’ll post those links in the show notes. I’m sorry, go ahead?

KEAH: I just really, I was just gonna say I just really wanna be on the show. I know what I would wear and everything, it would be a whole… it’d be a whole event.

SHAUN: I think this is really important because we have things go viral on the internet all the time that feature young, white men and women, children, teenagers—

KEAH: Yep.

SHAUN: –and you know, I feel like Ellen is kind of like on the… she’s kind of on the line between wanting to promote things that are socially aware, but also wanting to be just very fluffy. And I think that, one of the reasons why, one of the reasons that I think you are a brilliant fit for Ellen is cause you kind of, your tag kind of inherently combines them both. Not to say that activism for disabled people is fluffy, but this idea of being cute, and reclaiming that idea, it is that kind of thing.

KEAH: Absolutely.

SHAUN: And then it also is conscious. So yeah, that’s why I personally think that you should be on. It’s difficult… we don’t really see the black women and girls who are very influential to culture, viral culture, on shows like Ellen very often.

KEAH: No, you don’t. Let me be the first.

SHAUN: Let’s break that mold. Let’s open those floodgates.

KEAH: That’s exactly it. Cause somebody was like, she’s had so many people on her show. Like, the guy from Target, the Vans… the Vans kids. And I’m just like, okay… I’m the perfect fit for this! Put me on. I have so much to talk about. And I think it’s cool to me, that people are being so supportive about it. Cause I know that it’s weird to say you want something for yourself out of a thing that you created, but I do. And this is a thing that I want.

SHAUN: I love that. Like being open about that stuff about what you want and kind of like… just communicating that you deserve your blessings?

KEAH: Yeah!

SHAUN: Is such… it’s so looked down upon, especially on social media, because everybody is like, “Well you’re only here to be narcissistic” so if you take like one step in that direction, people have that ready to go to like, level that accusation at you.

KEAH: Absolutely.

SHAUN: But your whole thing, your whole hashtag is about celebration of self, and understanding that there is a value to valuing yourself, and… yeah. So I think it completely fits in, and I want everybody to help you get on Ellen. I will do what I can.

KEAH: Please and thank you.

SHAUN: Tell everybody where they can find you on Twitter or elsewhere, wherever you want to be reached.

KEAH: You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, @Keah_Maria, my website is KeahBrown.weebly.com catch me there, and I guess… just… on the interwebs in really cool places. But I do share all the places that I find myself published on twitter, so catch me there for tweets about cheesecake and pizza, and how attractive Idris Elba is.

SHAUN: Oh boy. Hey, that’s my territory!

KEAH: Whoo. Yeah, I forgot! Oh my God I saw that and I was like, this is the best thing ever. He’s gorgeous. He’s gorgeous.

SHAUN: Yeah, every once in a while. I never get more traction on my tweets than when I tweet about Idris, and then people bait me into it. And I’m like, ugh, it’s this again!

KEAH: “I fell into the trap! So close…”

SHAUN: And then I get like 25 new followers and I’m like, hm… hope you like Asian stuff, ‘case that’s what’s happening.

KEAH: Right? I’ve always like, prepare people who follow me off of one tweet thread? Like, are you sure this is what you want to do? I’m not sure you’re gonna like what comes after this…

SHAUN: Exactly.

KEAH: Or I’ll be like, if this is the one tweet that you followed me for, I suggest you unfollow me because…

SHAUN: Yeah. I’m like, get out of here. Get off my lawn!

KEAH: You’re going to be gravely disappointed…

SHAUN: (laughs) Well, everybody, I think, should follow you regardless, so it’s @Keah_Maria on Twitter and Instagram, and all of these will be in the show notes as well. And let me just quickly say, follow me on Twitter @NoTotally, NoTotally.com is the website, and you can support this show financially on Patreon.com/NoTotally and that helps us to have these conversations with people who are, by and large, I think typically left out of a lot of mainstream conversations and we want to create that space here. And um, thank you Keah for being on. I, hopefully the next time I…experience you will be on Ellen!

KEAH: Yes, fingers crossed! Thank you for having me.