Re-presentation, race and disability: How are Black people represented in online culture

Contemporary representations of Black people seem to be as wide and varied as any group. Mainstream publications like newspapers seem to have fully integrated their approaches to stories so that racial diversity is widely represented but only identified as an issue when it impinges on the story such as when dealing with racial tensions within communities or immigration – eg in Baltimore now. This seems to apply to online content – but here there are specialist websites that help to foster and show Black art. Here are two examples: Black Art in America and Map Art.

Maybe this is where Black and Disabled art meet: it’s not in forms of representation but rather in modes of expression where communities of like minded disabled/Black people come together and support each other through online communities in raising their consciousness.

This is a key distinction. For example when I carry out a simple Google search using the term “Black disabled people” it seems as though the results get peppered with disabled people irrespective of colour – see below – and so the term disabled (or more exactly it as a form of identification) trumps race.


Black people appear to be represented in contemporary media platforms in a diversity of ways – sports, the arts, news all show them. They are not invisible or only represented when the issue is about race. This seems to be the main difference between race and disability. One is recognised as a constituent part of society and included in wide representations whereas the other is not unless the search tem specifically includes the term “disabled”.

But I also found a hierarchy of representation within race because when I carried out a simple search of the term Black people it was dominated by Black men. So clearly my representational experience as a disabled person has more in common with the representation of women than race.


There are some important differences in modes of representation and similarities in forms of expression. The problem is that the latter is often only received by those “in the know” politically aware people. If you don’t recognise what you’re looking at or what is missing from view how can you understand?


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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1 Response to Re-presentation, race and disability: How are Black people represented in online culture

  1. Pingback: New trends in the representation of disability | anomiepete

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