space for community

I’m not sure what to say. I went to a WOC [women of color] conference for young feminists at Bennett College, a hbcu for women, today in Greensboro. The first session I attended was a small-group discussion on heteronormative society [expecting everyone to be straight/heterosexual] in the South, queer woc, and racism in the queer community/homophobia in the poc [people of color] community. The second session was one around feminism and how woc fit into it.  I’m still processing the whole day. It definitely was a lot of the things I’ve been looking for. 

It really got me thinking about community— how come we don’t have that kind of space in the disability community? How come our major annual conferences are tied to a “field” where we have to talk about best practices, new programs, or policy instead of building community? If we see ourselves more than “consumers” and “providers,” where are we giving ourselves the opportunity to talk about who we are? We do this in small groups, but will there ever be an allotted time for the community to gather and talk about this on a large, movement-shaking level?

And as sidenote— the selected conference area was so inaccessible that they had to move all the meeting rooms so that another disabled friend and I could attend the workshops (I’m glad she came—two powerchairs have much more of a presence than one). Normally inaccessibility is very frusterating (after all, if the school is receiving federal funds, they were supposed to be accessible since uhh, 1973?) but this time it was different. Once we were accommodated, it seemed like one of the first times where there weren’t any real attitudinal barriers. It was a safe space and disability was even brought up many times (and not by me!). Removing structural barriers are important (how can you be a part of the dialogue if you can’t get in the building?) but attitudinal barriers are just as important, if not more. In many ways, it’s much easier to remove architectural barriers. So kudos to my fellow feminists : )

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Filed under community, disability, queer issues/culture, woc

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