Keah Brown (born September 19, 1991) is a disability rights activist, author, journalist, and writer. She is also known as the creator of the hashtag #DisabledAndCute, which first went viral in February 2017 and caught the attention of such celebrities as Sophia Bush and Brie Larson. Brown has been featured on 3rd Hour of Today to discuss her first published book, The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love, with Me.
Brown “was already an accomplished freelance journalist and writer” when, on February 12, 2017, she created the hashtag #DisabledAndCute in a Twitter post that included "cute" photos of herself, a disabled black woman. Brown then invited members of disabled and non-binary communities to do the same in an act of self-love against the notion that being disabled and being cute (i.e. attractive) are mutually exclusive. #DisabledAndCute went viral within days, catching the attention of celebrities such as Sophia Bush and Brie Larson. With steadily rising popularity as a result, Brown went on to acquire an agent and book deal, which lead to the publishing in August 2019 of her first book, The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love, with Me.
The Pretty One (book)
Brown's first book, The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love, with Me, published by Atria Publishing Group, is a collection of personal essays/stories in which she relates to popular culture, beauty and body image, romantic love, and physical pain as a black woman with both cerebral palsy (a physical disability) and invisible disabilities. Brown also writes about her relationship with her non-disabled identical twin.
Brown was featured on 3rd Hour of Today on November 7, 2019, when she was interviewed by Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer. Earlier in 2019, the New York Times also named Brown as having been chosen by Brie Larson, the lead role in Captain Marvel (film) (2019), to profile Larson for the international magazine, Marie Claire. Handpicking Brown was part of Larsen’s “[vow] to seek out more underrepresented journalists.” Back in September of 216, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls profiled Brown in the article titled "Meet Smart Girl Keah Brown: Brilliant writer and disability activist."
Brown's work has appeared in a number of literary magazines, such as Wildness, an online bimonthly that Poets & Writers Magazine has called one of "Nine New Lit Mags You Need to Read." Poets & Writers reviews Wildness: "Launched in December 2015, Wildness features formally inventive work by both established and emerging writers that embraces the mysteries of the self and the outside world. Issue Five, Tranquility, features new poetry from Cynthia Arrieu-King and Christopher Citro, fiction from Renee Bibby and Wyl Villacres, an essay by Keah Brown, and more."
Brown's writings have covered a range of genres and subjects, from fiction and nonfiction, blogging, interviews, and essays to pieces pertaining to movies and TV, beauty and fashion, sports, and other popular culture, as well as to body positivity and her relationship to body image as a black woman having grown up with cerebral palsy. She has written for Cosmopolitan (magazine), Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Refinery29, and Bustle (magazine), among others, as well as online women’s organizations and under-represented communities’ media outlets, such as Essence (magazine), Disability Visibility Project, DIVERSEability, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, Bitch Magazine, The Establishment, and Gay Mag (a partnership between Roxane Gay and Medium).
Brown contributed an essay for the literary magazine Catapult called "Love, Disability, and Movies," on how “my black disabled body is not the body reflected on screen,” in the romantic comedies and dramas to which she relates.
The rights to Brown's picture book debut, Sam's Super Seats, have been acquired by Sydnee Monday at Kokila. The story, about loving yourself, laughter, and the importance of rest, follows a girl with cerebral palsy who goes back-to-school shopping with her best friends. Sharee Miller (author and illustrator of Don't Touch My Hair!) will be illustrating the book, which is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2020.
As a disabled black woman and activist, Brown has been known as a critic of the entertainment industry. In June 2016, Brown wrote the article, "Season Four of ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Has a Race Problem," which would be cited later in the peer-reviewed Canadian Review of American Studies, in 2017.
In September 2016, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls did an interview with Brown that reflected some of Brown's other writings when she said she wanted "to see more women of color with disabilities, specifically black women" acting in lead roles on film and TV.
In February 2017, Brown started the viral campaign, #DisabledAndCute (see above).
In 2018, following the death of Stephen Hawking, Brown was one of multiple activists who "took to social media to protest the portrayal of Hawking in death as 'freeing,' and a meme of him standing, having walked away from his wheelchair, looking up at the stars." Brown had stated that that kind of representation signified "to other disabled people that we should be excited for the opportunity to be 'free' of our bodies, but it also reduces Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest intellectuals ever, to his disability and nothing more."
Brown also questioned in 2018 the entertainment industry’s use of remakes, tweeting: “Instead of rebooting shows, why not try letting black and brown people share our ideas for brand new shows where we exist?”
- Brown, K. (2019). The Pretty One, p. 65.
- Brown 2019, p. 65.
- "'The Pretty One' author Keah Brown shares self-love journey". TODAY.com. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Yap, Diana Michele. "Review | Keah Brown is trying to change how disabled people are viewed. Listen to her". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- McNamara, Brittney. "This Social Media Movement Proves You Can Be Disabled and Cute". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Narins, Elizabeth (2017-02-15). "These Sassy #DisabledAndCute Tweets Will Give You Life". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Dickey, S. (2019). Library Journal, para. 1.
- Reviews, L. J. "Perspectives on Disability". Library Journal. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- "The Pretty One: With a New Memoir, Writer-Activist Keah Brown Is Redefining Disability on Her Own Terms". The Glow Up. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
- Brown 2019, p. 52.
- Schumer, Lizz (2019-07-10). "How to Disclose a Disability to Your Employer (and Whether You Should)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Hoffert, Barbara. "Three Advocacy Memoirs: Barbara's Picks, Aug. 2019, Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert". Library Journal. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- CORRESPONDENT, Terri Schlichenmeyer TRIBUNE. "Book review: 'The Pretty One' looks beyond disabilities". The Philadelphia Tribune. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
- Buckley, Cara (2019-03-13). "When 'Captain Marvel' Became a Target, the Rules Changed". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- "Roxane Gay and Medium launch Gay Magazine". AP NEWS. 2019-05-03. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- "Love, Disability, and Movies | Keah Brown". Catapult. 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- "Keah Brown's Picture Book Debut". Goodreads.
- Demers, Jason (October 2017). "Is a Trojan Horse an Empty Signifier? The Televisual Politics of Orange Is the New Black". Canadian Review of American Studies. 47 (3): 403–422. doi:10.3138/cras.2017.023. ISSN 0007-7720. S2CID 164589705.
- Sepulveres, Danielle (2016-10-12). "Meet Smart Girl Keah Brown: Brilliant Writer and Disability Activist". Medium. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- Andrews 2020, p. 22. sfn error: no target: CITEREFAndrews2020 (help)
- Metz, Nina. "With TV reboots, everything old is new again — but at what cost to diversity?". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2020-03-31.
- [Review of The pretty one: On life, pop culture, disability, and other reasons to fall in love with me]. (2019). Bitch magazine: Feminist response to pop culture, (83), 73. Retrieved from EBSCOhost 136434158
- Andrews, Erin E. (December 2019). Disability as diversity : developing cultural competence. New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-19-065231-9. OCLC 1112281713.
- Brown, Keah (2019). The pretty one: on life, pop culture, disability, and other reasons to fall in love with me. ISBN 978-1-9821-0054-4. OCLC 1056742657.