Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Create & Cultivate

5 Black Women Influencers With Disabilities To Follow

These women are using their platforms to empower women with disabilties, and we are here for it.

Human Interest

These women are using their platforms to empower women with disabilities and show that they are just like everyone else. The CDC reported that 61 million people are living with a disability and 1 in 4 are women. The National Center for Disability and Journalism also reported that over 6 million people living with a disability are Black.

While it is a large community, disabled people are still rarely represented in the public eye. But thanks to these influencers, that is all sure to change soon. From Hollywood actress Lauren “Lolo” Spencer to everyday moms like TaLisha Grzyb, women are using their social media to speak up for those who are just like them and show the world that they also matter.

TaLisha Grzyb

TaLisha Grzyb is a wife and mother of four living with muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy is a disease that causes muscle weakness and muscle loss, which impacts mobility. Due to her diagnosis, TaLisha is someone who uses a wheelchair. She also documents her day-to-day life through her YouTube channel Rolling Through Life with TaLisha.

TaLisha shared her experience as a mom with a disability in an interview with Yahoo! Life. “I think the biggest misconception is that we are just out here having kids and expecting other people to raise our kids or do things for us,” she said. “People feel like maybe we don't deserve to be moms. As long as you're present and you're active and you have great intent and a great heart, anyone deserves to be a parent, let alone a mother.”

“I feel like that is a part of my purpose on this earth to kind of empower people and let them know — don't let anything stop you."

Lauren “Lolo” Spencer

Lauren “Lolo” Spencer stars in HBO’s The Sex Life of College Girls and is an advocate for people with disabilities. After being diagnosed with ALS in high school, Lolo decided to pursue acting. In an exclusive interview with xoNecole, the actress shared what it’s like working with a disability.

“As a person with a disability, employment is incredibly hard to find. If I’m not mistaken, less than two percent of the job market are people on record saying that they have disabilities," she said. "I just didn’t like the feeling of someone being in control of my livelihood because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to find another job.”

Nakia Smith


Its DEAF! 😤 lmaoooooooooo 😂 #fyp #tiktok #signlanguage #deafworld #foryoupage

Nakia Smith is a popular TikToker who uses her platform to teach others about BASL (Black American Sign Language). The Dallas, TX native, whose sign name is Charmay, comes from a five-generation family of deaf people and her videos show how she communicates with them.

In an interview with The New York Times, Nakia explained the difference between American Sign Language and BASL. “The difference between BASL and ASL is that BASL got seasoning,” she joked.

Keah Brown

Keah Brown was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child and she dealt with bullying from other kids. As a Black, queer woman, Keah has found herself in between two worlds and is trying her best to navigate both of them.

“In the Black community, we don't talk about disability and if we do, it’s within the realm of jokes, making light of something, or using us as punching bags on the internet," she said in an interviewTODAY. "Then you have the white disabled community who doesn't talk about queerness or race or sexuality. It is exhausting sometimes because ... It’s hard to feel like I really belong in any place.”

Haben Girma

Haben Girma is the first deafblind student to graduate from Harvard Law School. As a human rights lawyer, Haben fights for others with disabilities and she is also the author of Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. She has continued to push boundaries and most recently shared that she is learning how to surf.

“Before my surf lesson in Santa Cruz a guy called me inspiring, then came back later to apologize for 'interrupting' my weekend,” she wrote on Instagram. “Honestly, learning to surf as a Deafblind person involves a variety of challenges before I even enter the water. To the guy who 'interrupted' my weekend to express joy at seeing me at the beach, thank you! Adaptive surfing is tough and I’m grateful for all the encouragement I can get.

Featured image by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Create & Cultivate

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I was determined to set the mood and engage in some erotic self-focus by way of masturbation, and I wanted to do so with a little more variety than my wand vibrator provides. My commitment to almost daily masturbation was affirmed even further with the arrival of what would become my new favorite sex toy, the viral Lovers’ Thump & Thrust Dual Vibrator.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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