Disability advocates call on the Sonoma County Fair to cancel the "M"[slur] Wrestling Warriors performance at this year's fair

The show promotes discrimination and bias against little people and other disabled persons

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. , July 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Marin Center for Independent Living and Little People of America, Inc. are calling on the Sonoma County Fair (SCF) to cancel the “M”[slur] wrestling show scheduled for August 3, 2023 at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA. The SCF is hosting this event for the second year, even though local disability advocates communicated opposition to last year’s performance. “The show must go!” said Eileen Norman, President of Little People of America, Inc., a third generation resident of Santa Rosa.

Norman added, “our opposition is not solely about the use of the “m”[slur] and its offensiveness, it is to the show itself – which is a visual expression of bias – and the marginalization it incites from the audience members. The visual performance showcases disabled persons chosen specifically for their disability as a form of entertainment.”

According to a 2022 story in the Sonoma Press Democrat during last year’s performance, audience members characterized as “the opposite of woke” shouted “We want the ‘m'[slur]s” and “Give us the ‘m'[slur]s.”

Eli Gelardin, CEO of the Marin Center for Independent Living said “I believe that the intent of it is to be amusing for others who are not disabled, which is exploitation and dehumanizing. The violence displayed in the program, whether real or acted, shows plot and characterizations that could validate bias against people with disabilities.” Gelardin is also a lifelong resident of the North Bay region, having lived previously in Santa Rosa. He continued by saying “I am a little person, my wife is disabled, we have a child. What happens if someone gets the message that it’s ok to act out the sentiments in this show. I am not just being an advocate here, I need to protect my family.”

On Tuesday Marin CIL, LPA sent a letter to the SCF Chief Executive Officer and the Sonoma County Board of supervisors calling for the removal of the performance from the fair’s schedule. The letter was co-signed by fifteen (15) international, national, and California statewide and local disability rights organizations.

Following the letter several disabled advocates spoke during public comment at the SCF Board of Directors meeting. Olivia Glaubiger, a young woman born and raised in Santa Rosa summed up her experience by saying “I grew up in this community and continue to live here. I’ve experienced bullying, strangers taking pictures of me and mistaking me for other little people. I’ve always loved the fair, when I was young I entered the art contest for the new fair logo. Now the fair has changed for me, I don’t feel welcome anymore.”

The Sonoma County Fair has consistently attempted to divert meaningful discussion about the issue to the performers and away from their own responsibility in deciding to host this show. Ted Jackson, Sr. Advisor-Public Policy & Engagement for Marin CIL said “from the initial email and at each connection point the fair’s executive has responded with diversion to the performers. This is not about the performers. This is about the fair taking ownership for their actions. If they had the power to make this mistake, they have the power to fix it. When people have to gaslight, they know they’ve done something wrong.”

Marin CIL, LPA National and our coalition will continue to advocate without compromise.

Cision View original content:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/disability-advocates-call-on-the-sonoma-county-fair-to-cancel-the-mslur-wrestling-warriors-performance-at-this-years-fair-301888829.html

SOURCE Marin Center for Independent Living

Disability advocates call on the Sonoma County Fair to cancel the "M"[slur] Wrestling Warriors performance at this year's fair WeeklyReviewer

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