This is my first time carnivaling [a blog carnival is when bloggers get together and write on the same theme.] Look for the disability carnival at Andrea’s Buzzing About blog on August 9! Since the topic was about being “on holiday,” I was going to write about the importance of vacation as an activist but my friend (who introduced me to this carnival) Kara beat me to the punch. Hopefully, she won’t mind that my blog is a continuation of hers. After all, great minds think alike?
A lot of the way our movement organizes is through conferences and forums…Nothing is really localized and it seems like the younger activists I know (about 35 years old and younger) had to start on the national level and then search for things in their state. Some have been successful at finding space to grow on the state/local level but we still do most organizing via teleconference calls and emails. Anyways, back to conferences. Even though these conferences take A LOT of energy (imagine having to always defend your every belief), fellow activists and I treat them like vacations because it’s when we get to see each other.
I think community is a big part of the “vacation” concept because the main point of vacations and holidays is to give you energy. When Sarah Triano and Access Living put on the first ever Disability Pride Parade four years ago, it was a big, radical thing because it was the first real time Disabled people really got together without a policy agenda. People continue to gravitate [strongly go] to the parade because they want to celebrate community and just “be”. I believe that Disabled people will never experience true, ultimate power until we can fully see ourselves as a community instead of just “advocates” who are fighting the same fight.
So how can we do this?? Kara wrote about a friend who had to do so much self-advocacy getting interpreters at his school that he needed a vacation from the crip community. This is understandable on a personal level but at the same time says a lot about the way we organize as a community. Let’s say you were Asian or Latina and did activism around issues surrounding that part of your life, you couldn’t really just “shut off” being a person of color because it affects practically every single thing you do and people do to you. I think the same would apply as a queer person, female person, etc. But why even as Disabled people, do we still connect disability with “advocacy” and not a part of our life that gives us tremendous energy? Even as a social movement, this seems so rooted in the philosophy of the medical model because we are only “fixed” if we have X and in this case, it’s rights instead of a cure.
I need a vacation.