Artist And Intersectional Activist Michele Kaplan, Fights To End Ableism

Many people have concerns about the years under a Trump presidency. They worry that his administration will bring in a new age of racism, sexism, and bigotry.


Whether these fears are founded or unfounded remains to be seen, but one woman worries that one group will be completely forgotten and completely marginalized – those with a disability. Activist Michele Kaplan is working to end ableism and usher in a new age of acceptance for those with disabilities. 

Kaplan has started a YouTube channel, RebelWheels NYC, to address issues common to those with a disability. Her goal is to raise awareness of this issue to educate and inform. Most people aren’t aware that ableism even exists, even though they have attitudes that fit with this form of discrimination. Many people look down upon those with a disability, thinking they’re “less than” people considered “normal.” This pity is exactly what Kaplan is looking to end.

She argues that there is no such thing as “normal.” Those with a disability aren’t “less than” or in need of pity, they are just people with a different set of circumstances. These circumstances don’t make them any better or worse, they just make them a little different. Since we all have differences, those with a disability are just as normal as anyone else.


Kaplan got the idea for her project “What is Ableism?” at a recent protest in New York. While there were many people protesting against other forms of discrimination, no one was protesting for the rights of the disabled. While she felt welcome at the rally, she realized that people were completely unaware that ableism was a form of discrimination. That’s when she decided to take action and stand up for the rights of the disabled. She worries that, under Trump, ableism will flourish.


This belief comes from the fact that President Trump mocked a disabled reporter during the campaign. Serge Kovaleskiis is a reporter who wrote a story critical of Trump, then backtracked. Trump, in a speech, performed hand gestures that were widely seen as mocking of this disabled man in response to the criticism. While Trump claims that he was not mocking anyone, many people refuse to accept that explanation. Kaplan is one of those people. She’s putting her intersectional activism to pushing back against this discrimination.

As an intersectional activist, Kaplan believes that discrimination against one group is discrimination against all people. That’s why she vigorously protests for the rights of Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, women, African-Americans, and other marginalized peoples. As these groups are brought into the mainstream, tolerance and acceptance grows. Kaplan is sure that as people learn more about ableism and its harmful effects on the disabled, these people will be brought further into mainstream culture. This ensures that all people have the chance to flourish in our society. 


In order to achieve this, Kaplan has made graphics that explain exactly what ableism is (including examples of ableism), its effect on the disabled, and how to combat it when you see it. This helps people share the content easily across social media, ensuring maximum exposure for her cause. The surest way to fight discrimination is to educate people. That’s what Kaplan is hoping to do. 

By bringing the issues of ableism to the forefront, it makes it more difficult for society to discriminate or look down on those with disabilities. When people are hidden, they are ripe for exploitation and marginalization. Through increased awareness, Kaplan is hoping to end ableism once and for all.

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