There were 72 medals: 22 gold, 20 silver and 30 bronze. Brazil closes the Paralympics with the best campaign of all time, since its first participation in 1972. What we could see was a sequence of extraordinary and real bodies, performing absolutely brilliant feats. There were bodies with disabilities with prosthesis, without prosthesis, fat, thin. The very ones who fill the cultural dichotomies of inferiority, transforming and deconstructing the ingrained idea of superiority.
There is a naturalization of disability as rejected when thinking about futures, from a value perspective, that is, the future of people with disabilities always fits as unrecognized. Therefore, the image of a giant like Daniel Dias with 27 medals, the biggest medalist on the planet, is extremely contradictory.
Or even the young Gabriel Araújo, who, in addition to dragging out the swimming tests, puts his black and disabled body to dance and, even though it was not his intention, resists a social construction in which he would probably be dead and underreported .
Still medaling in the waters, we mention Gabriel Bandeira; concentrated, fast and very competent. People with intellectual disabilities, those who “would hinder the development of other children” as stated by the Minister of Education, Milton Ribeiro, you know?
Carol Santiago, a woman from Pernambuco who passes through Tokyo with the best campaign among all Brazilian athletes, even though there is still a huge discrepancy in the number of men (163) and women (96) participating. That’s because I didn’t even mention the 28 athletics medals.
What is evidenced is the movement that causes the existence of people with disabilities occupying spaces. On closed stations – there is no broadcast on open ones – the sports narrators not only prepared themselves to explain “correct” terminology, but also performed audio description and started to subtitle the images and videos on their websites.
: Read more Brazil ends Paralympics with 72 medals won and 7th place on the overall scoreboard
During the broadcasts, the closed channel sports broadcaster had to release three more channels, since previously it was showing the games in restricted time in only one of them, while in the Olympics there were four channels dedicated to the 24h event. There was also a work of reframing, which, in an immediate and succinct way, moves from the presentation of athletes based on disability to focus on their sports history.
This movement is not genuine, because it implies profit strategies and agenda appropriation, very typical of the neoliberal third way. These broadcasts present accessibility as something simple – which it really would be, if it was widespread – however, the discussion is not broadened in its essence, therefore, during the course, what the athletes experience is their guarantee of rights presented by a charitable assistance bias , based on the logic of functional capital that strategically organizes the understanding of these rights as expenses and success stories as meritocracy.
Imagine that it harms the norm for people to understand that accessibility does not depend at all times on specialists and that commentators with disabilities such as Verônica Hipólito and Clodoaldo Silva can reinvent journalism with great competence, humor and militancy.
: Also read: Tokyo Paralympics: Meet 10 athletes from Pernambuco with medal chances
In fact, we are talking here about something that goes far beyond representativeness, it is even greater than resisting, it is an invention of life, a rejection of spoils and, far from being an overcoming, it consists in the absolute implication that existence of people with disabilities threatens order in every way. They decontextualize the fallacious construction of the “atypical” body and open up to the world that the silence screams and, ironically (or not), rises more often to the podium.
What the Paralympics actually represent is precisely the urgent need to bring disability to the mouth, coexistence, affection and historical constructions. It is the emergence of leaving the ‘clinicalizing’ condition of rehabilitation to make a continuous and threatening transition – for the oppressors – from object to subject.
Only in this way will we be able to identify, both individually and collectively, the specific character of our social identity and, far beyond the correct and incorrect expressions, we will be able to move forward and see ourselves in them and in ourselves.
Bodies with disabilities in evidence is a political gesture that challenges domination, which even trying to keep them anonymous, cannot sustain their creative power to resist and exist.
As Bell Hooks would say: the voice frees and by raising the voice – I add hands, bodies and meanings – Paralympic athletes subvert the arbitrary view of diversity from the “words out”, which reinforces the construction of hierarchies over lives that are literally worth more or less.
These athletes not only chest 72 medals, cries, emotions and victories, but raise the possibility of expanding our awareness of the interconnected systems and the ways in which we reinforce and perpetuate these structures. They lift their bodies in waters, courts, nets, podiums and media, revealing the urgent and immediate need to fight side by side.
*Viviane Sarmento has a Ph.D. in Education from the Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL), Adjunct Professor at the Federal University of the Agreste of Pernambuco (UFAPE), researcher on the social meanings of disability and activist for the Rights of people with disabilities and for the World March for Women ( MMM).
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato.
Source: BoF Pernambuco
Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga