So, I did not watch the Grammys last night (because I don’t have cable and also because it makes me feel too old when I don’t recognize 95% of the musical acts nominated). But thanks to the internet, I did happen to catch one of the most touching moments from the broadcast, featuring the one and only Stevie Wonder.
After performing a beautiful tribute to Maurice White–the late founder of Earth, Wind & Fire–Wonder went on to announce the winner of Song of the Year, joined by the band Pentatonix. First he taunted his fellow presenters about not being able to read braille, which, come on, is pretty great.
But then he got serious, making a short but impassioned plea that gets right to the heart of what inclusion is all about: “I just want to say, before saying the winner, that we need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”
— Lauren Potter (@TheLaurenPotter) February 16, 2016
Of course, the topic of disabilities hits close to home for Wonder, who became blind shortly after his birth (though that didn’t stop him from winning 22 Grammy awards himself). And the good news is that disability inclusion does seem to be growing more and more prominent in our society. From a new line of dolls with disabilities to companies like Target featuring children with disabilities as models in their advertisements, the move to go beyond merely tolerating, but normalizing and including all people with disabilities, is definitely underfoot.
Still, the power of celebrity is, well, powerful, and having a musician as prominent at Stevie Wonder going out of his way to speak up during a major award show will hopefully wake everybody up to the fact that disability inclusion is absolutely necessary.
And for the record, Song of the Year went to Ed Sheeran for “Thinking Out Loud,” which, no, I’ve never heard. Oy.