I came across this photo this morning in a thread on TD, called “Second grader in wheelchair set apart from his classmates in school photo”. It linked to a news story from Canada with the same name.
Opinions seem to be mixed as to whether the child’s parents are right to be unhappy about the picture. Some typical comments are as follows:
the chair is as close to the bleachers as it can be.
did the mom want them to sit the wheelchair on the bleachers?
Hard to say if there was any malice here. The class photos are on a bench, which the kid in the wheelchair can't sit on.
I doubt there was any malice intended. They just didn't think about it enough. They should have placed him front and center.
Before the third and fourth posts were made, other commenters pointed out that the wheelchair could have been placed in front of the bleachers with the children on the bleachers placed to one side or the other so they wouldn’t be blocked. Someone also suggested another solution:
And there's room on both sides of the bleachers. Just move the kids to the edge and he would be with the rest of the students. Not that hard to figure out.
But that would create a worse problem!
and that would've made the picture off center and look stupid.
Well, we certainly can’t have any of that.
I agree with the fourth post above though. I doubt there was any malice intended. I mean look at that child. Look how cute he is. I bet he’s everyone’s mascot, moppet, pet. How can you feel malice toward him?
I doubt there was any malice intended when the school contracted with the photographer without telling the company that they have students with special needs, and asking what experience the photographer had with posing children in wheelchairs.
I don’t believe there was any malice intended when the teacher got the memo saying what time to have the children in the gym for the photograph and didn’t think, “Maybe I should go look at the bleachers and get an idea how we are going to work Miles into the picture."
I don’t believe the photographer felt any malice when he centered the rest of the class on the bleachers the way he always poses children and tucked Miles in afterwards.
That’s what privilege does.
So if you have children who can walk on their own two feet or at least sit in the bleachers unaided and pay attention and smile on command and not get frightened at a stranger pointing an unfamiliar device at them and want to run away, take a good look at this picture.
Because this is what privilege looks like.