Comedian and disability rights activist Stella Young passes away

Stella Young photo on Ted Talk stageStella Young was a passionate, hilarious woman who advocated for the rights of people with disabilities since she was a young girl. According to an article by Australian Broadcast Corporation, ABC, her family’s statement began, “With great sadness we acknowledge the passing of Stella Young, our much-loved and irreplaceable daughter and sister. Stella passed away on Saturday evening, unexpectedly, but in no pain.” Young, who lived and worked in Australia, was only thirty-two years old.

Earlier this year, I wrote an article discussing her viral TedTalk, in which she debunked the myth that people with disabilities are object of inspiration, or “inspiration porn”. Young made the point that people with disabilities should not be celebrated just for going through life and “managing to get up in the morning.” I consider Young to be an inspiration for an entirely different reason. Not only did she dedicate immeasurable efforts to changing how people with disabilities are viewed by mainstream society, but she took control of her life and pursued her dreams, all the while sharing laughter with audiences around the world. In the words of Young, “Disability doesn’t make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does.”

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.