AnnaRose Rubright is not a parent, she is a woman who has Down syndrome

AnnaRose Rubright is someone I first became aware of in March, 2016. She was in–  what has became known as– the Olivia Wilde World Down Syndrome Day video. Wilde portrays Rubright until the end scene of the video revealing that the woman speaking, Rubright, who has Down syndrome. The hashtag was #HowDoYouSeeMe. The video was judged harshly on social media by some parents of children with Down syndrome and actual people with disabilities– however, not anyone with Down syndrome– for being abelist.

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AnnaRose Rubright

You know what didn’t happen on social media? No one asked AnnaRose what she thought about it all. In fact, I can’t find any mention of anyone– parent, blogger, journalist, reporter– talking to a person with Down syndrome about it. Or any commentary by a person with Down syndrome. If I had Down syndrome I would probably lay low on this kind of thing, too. Who wants to get crapped on by a group of parents? Or other people with disabilities? So much for allies and intersectionality when you have a cognitive disability.

We– The Royal We– like to decide everything for people with Down syndrome– on every GD thing under the sun. How awful for them. How abelist of us. How fucking typical.

Meaningful segue way: Whenever I read a book on Down syndrome I look to see if someone with Down syndrome provided a blurb on the book cover. I never find it. When I got it into my head I would write a book I knew I wanted to rectify that. I contacted people with both Down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities with my request: “Will you read my book and tell me what you think? If you like it can I have your blurb on the book cover?”

AnnaRose Rubright said yes and said she was honored. I felt shame at her honoring me. It quickly turned to an understanding. She has wondered, too, why people with Down syndrome were never asked.

AnnaRose did me a solid, because when I made my request, which included a six-week turn around, she was a full-time college, with an internship, a part-time job and two sports. In May, AnnaRose graduated from Rowan College with a degree in Entertainment Technology. Her major is Video and Digital Media Production. (I was a documentary videographer for almost 15 years. I told her I want to see her work.)

AnnaRose’s review included an analysis of the entire book from the author’s intent, to accuracy, intended audience and more. AnnaRose researched writing a review. Typical college student. Her feedback also included  “omissions.” She offered: “social life, more about Ward.” I couldn’t agree more. As a writer you think of a many things you should have included, both were on my list.

AnnaRose quote

from the back cover of Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey

AnnaRose and her mom, Lin, sent me video of AnnaRose reading. I broke into tears. Not just because a woman with Down syndrome was reading my words but because someone other than me was reading my words. I’d never heard that.

AnnaRose’s review is my most important review– and I have terrific comments on the book which I love and cherish– and I love hers most because she has Down syndrome. AnnaRose does not speak for all people with Down syndrome but she speaks for herself and that doesn’t happen enough in this world.

My new dream is for AnnaRose and I to perform together in the production ‘Not Always Happy’ directed, by my friend and ally, Bess Welden. Bess and I are in agreement, this one-woman show could use AnnaRose.

So, Universe, my cousin and his family live in Philadelphia about 45 minutes from AnnaRose’s family in New Jersey. Help me swing a book tour to Philly and a performance somewhere in-between with AnnaRose. I have never meet my cousin Joel’s family so it would be a major two-fer for me and I’m pretty sure we get to stay with them.

I will be thanking and acknowledging quite a few people in the coming posts. I’m a lucky person who has gotten amazing support from amazing people regarding my book.

For more reviews and information about my book please go to my author page.

6 thoughts on “AnnaRose Rubright is not a parent, she is a woman who has Down syndrome

  1. Thank you again for asking her! We just read your post and when I ask AnnaRose what she thinks, she says, “I really liked it.” I wanted to write all kinds of words to the comments after the video last year to the 1% who were so vocal in their attacks of AnnaRose personally. As always, we read comments, good and bad, together, sometimes even as a family (like during our road trip to Florida). When we would come across someone like Mr. Perry, or someone else, who didn’t even bother to contact us, we frequently wondered why they didn’t interview AnnaRose or us. When AnnaRose would hear or read the comments about Abelism or worse, about her being atypical of DS, she would laugh. She would frequently roll her eyes and say, “that’s ridiculous”. She was the one pulling me back from wanting to go off on someone. So like her. She’s the smart one. Thank you for talking about DS in a real way and skipping the syrup!

  2. I hadn’t seen that video before. It was very moving (and that was with the sound off because I’m getting my son to sleep, will watch again tomorrow). No matter who we are and our abilities, we all have this inner image of ourselves. I don’t highlight all my differences and setbacks in my head (gay, short, chronically ill, big ears, poor…), I’m just me existing and living and learning. Instead, I see myself in the ways I relate to people, my roles in the world, and my aspirations, just like AnnaRose in the commercial. I see that as humanism, not ableism. We need to acknowledge those aspects of every other person we cross paths with, no matter the labels and things they may carry. We might each be in the process of mourning a dream we cant make come true for whatever reason, and that doesn’t mean we are measuring ourselves to the standards of others. I think it is saying “I see the light in me, do you?” A sort of reverse Namaste.

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