Blind And Autistic ‘America’s Got Talent’ Contestant Wows Judges With His Talent

Time and time again, we see a multitude of very talented contestants featured on different talent shows. One of the most popular talent shows featured on network television is ‘America’s Got Talent’ (AGT) which airs on NBC. On the program, basically anyone with any talent can go on and audition to see if they've got what it takes to get to the next round. A blind and autistic contestant has recently wowed the judges on ‘America’s Got Talent’ but is their shock ableism?

Kodi Lee, who is a talented pianist and singer, went on stage with the support of his mother, who was right there on the stage with him. Lee went on stage and performed Donny Hathaway’s ‘A Song For You.’ As soon as Lee began belting and playing the piano to the very popular song, you could see how the judges faces change completely — a few of them even got emotional watching Lee perform. Watch a clip, below.

One of the show’s judges, Simon Cowell, was so moved by the performance that he said “What just happened there was really extraordinary. I’m going to remember this moment for the rest of my life.” But this way of thinking has been met with a bit of controversy from followers of the show calling the shock many were expressing, ableist.

An ableist is someone who — with or without bad intentions — gets shocked or taken aback when someone with a disability is carrying out regular activities, like say singing and playing piano for judges on AGT. The idea that because Lee is blind and autistic, he won’t have a talent is ableist. Anyone has the ability to do just about anything with the right amount of practice and modification, if necessary.


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The problem with ableism is, it makes people with disabilities (PWD) feel like anything they do, no matter how simple, is a huge accomplishment. This is perpetuating stereotypes about the disability community basically saying this group is unable to carryout the same actvities as someone who is "normal."
There is a buzz phrase in the disability community called "inspiration porn" which is pretty much when media and news outlets see a disability as a tragedy or unfortunate circumstance in order to share a story of inspiration or overcoming. This thought process is inherantly ableist.

The Center for Disability Rights had this to say in a statement to the Huffington Post about Lee's AGT performance:

“The media picked up on Kodi Lee’s performance and was quick to show not only how he spoke, but even how he situated himself at the piano, often praising his mother for assisting him. Kodi Lee’s disabilities are as much a part of his identity as one’s heritage or culture. While we agree that Kodi Lee is incredibly talented with his voice and piano skills, we want to be clear that one can be both talented and disabled. By trying to inspire others by showing how Kodi Lee undergoes mundane tasks such as sitting down at the piano, we are only further marginalizing people with disabilities.”
Basically, try as hard as you can to be a little more sensitive when it comes to people with disabilities carrying out an activity. Don't be surprised that someone with cerebral palsy, autism or any diagnosis are talented or are good at something. 

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