Jermaine Greaves Uses Viral Moment to Advocate for Disability Awareness

by Bridget Conrad | 9/25/2019 7:30 PM

Photo Credit: @jermainegreaves on Instagram

Last week, Good Morning America (GMA) featured a particular human-interest story that caught my undivided attention. The show featured a video of New York native Jermaine Greaves, who has cerebral palsy, taking his turn in a dance circle at the Afropunk music festival last month. What caught my attention was not the fact that this video had gone viral, but it was the pure joy that living openly and enjoying a dance brought to Greaves. Now, he plans to use his newfound notoriety to advocate for disability awareness and to inspire those with disabilities to always be their true selves.

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Even though Greaves wasn’t trying to get the internet’s attention when he posted his dancing video to Instagram, he admitted that he wasn’t surprised the video went viral. Greaves believes that people connected with his video enough to make it go viral because, in it, he was being his authentic self. “Once you own yourself, you don’t need to apologize for being you,” the Brooklyn native told GMA.

Now, Greaves wants to use his time in the spotlight to become a disability advocate encouraging others to always be their true selves. He wants people with disabilities to not feel like they have to practice restraint just because they are in a wheelchair or have a certain condition. 

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“People with disabilities don’t get the chances to truly exist in spaces,” Greaves told GMA. In addition, he said that living with a disability has shown him that people are always trying to place people like him in society. He often finds that he has to place himself in different situations that people don’t expect him to be in just to have a place there. “People aren’t used to seeing people with disabilities living openly,” Greaves added. 

After his dancing video gained more than two million views when it was re-posted by accounts like @theshaderoom on Instagram, Greaves has learned a valuable lesson. Before the video, he felt like he wasn’t seen at all, but after this video he realized it’s not about being seen, it’s simply about being yourself. Rapper T. I. commented on his video, “This genuinely made me feel good,” and now, that is the energy that Greaves is hoping to spread to all people.

Photo Credit: @jermainegreaves on Instagram

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Currently, Greaves runs a nonprofit called 'Not Like the Other Kids' whose mission is to inspire people who are differently abled or disadvantaged. Through this organization, he wants to show people who feel different that everyone belongs somewhere. He plans to go on a tour this winter and wants to use dance and other mediums to help people learn that they can be themselves and they don’t have to change who they are to live their lives. 

Honestly, I'm glad to know that there are still people out there as pure as Jermaine Greaves. Today, so many people use social media for the selfish purpose of gaining followers to gain profit, but Greaves learned a valuable lesson from his viral moment. He sees that the true power of mediums like dance and social media is that you can use these things to touch so many people's lives. After watching his video, I'm sure many people with disabilities now feel like it's OK for them to let go and to live an open life. 

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