andy richter

@AndyRichter/Twitter (Fair Use) Alex Dalbey

Andy Richter tweets about man with ‘fake’ limp, gets schooled

People with disabilities shared their stories of people assuming they were faking it.

Sep 13, 2019, 6:42 am*

IRL

Alex Dalbey 

Alex Dalbey

Actor Andy Richter, best known as Conan O’Brien’s sidekick, drew ire from disabled people and activists on Twitter this week after tweeting about a man who “faked a limp” to get on a plane early.

“Just saw a guy, I kid you not, walk up to the gate, hear they were boarding only people with disabilities at the moment, and he faked a limp and got on the plane,” Richter tweeted on Wednesday night while waiting for a flight to New York City.

Many of the replies joined Richter in mocking and judging the man who was supposedly faking his limp and shared stories of when they’d seen similar things. But some disabled people had a very different perspective.

https://twitter.com/CorryShawComedy/status/1172063776339890177

Disability advocate and author Stephanie Tait clearly outlined how harmful attitudes like Richter’s are, and the extra labor it forces disabled people to do. “[Richter’s] tweet could have so easily been written about me, and I really am #disabled,” Tait tweeted. “The airport can be one of the WORST places in terms of judgments and suspicion from onlookers when you use accessibility services.

“My level of ability varies widely—not just on a day to day basis, but within the course of a day as well. I’m accused of faking my #disabled identity for attention A LOT,” she continued. “These issues lead many MANY #disabled folks, myself included, to feel pressured to something called ‘performative disability.’”

Performative disability is when disabled people are made to perform their disability in a way that fits the expectations of abled people in order to get access to the accommodation they need. For Tait, this means she always uses a cane at the airport even if she is feeling well so that if she needs a wheelchair later, her disability won’t be questioned. Other disabled people shared their stories of having to perform disability to appease abled people, too.

Richter has not publicly responded to any of the many disabled people trying to educate him and protect their community from harm.

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2019, 5:04 pm