thank you.

i just sent a thank you email to five beautiful wise older women in my life with these words from sudy (which where inspired i think from daisy who left an UNBELIEVABLY insightful comment on sudy’s page).

AGE.

It’s utterly important to feminism. Feminism without older feminists, I’ve realized, is a like a chair with no legs. There’s no difference between the seat and the floor if it’s not raised up. The legs, the older womyn, are required. There’s memory, wisdom, knowledge, and did I mention memory? Aged womyn are the sacred in learning. They a make sure we see what has always been there, how history repeats itself; how young women after us will think the same things as we did.

I don’t want to be one of those under 30 folks that speaks too soon, thinking I have something to share when in actuality it’s been said about fifty times over by someone else. Learning patience, learning how to be educated and well-rounded, and unpresumptuous is difficult. It’s hard to be energetic and not impulsive. History, and its story tellers must be prioritized…. What is it about our obsession with the young? Granted, yes, they “are the future,” but as we know in feminism, it is just as necessary to inform and correct the past as well. There’s no way to do that without older womyn. It is necessary to include the voices of womyn who WERE THERE before us. Those who are in the midst of transformation themselves and live to tell what their own mistakes were, unspoiled accounts of history, and a wealth of insights unshared.

That really spoke to me. It’s more than just gaining wisdom or dismantling ageism too I think. I do not mean to make it sound like “what can older people give US?” but as far as the disability community goes, our future SURVIVAL as a community and as a PEOPLE rest on history and those who can tell it. A bioethics philosopher/activist friend of mine pointed out to me yesterday that with genetic testing, euthanasia, cochlear implants, and cures, disabled people are closer to extinction than ever. The only way we can beat this war waged against us (I’m quoting his brilliance) is as a community.

Learning disability history and about the struggle is what brings so many of the new activists to the movement. judy heumann reading into a microphone in 1977 This is actually how I came to community. Though it’s a process, I have a very distinctive coming-home memory. I was at a youth leadership conference and saw Judy Heumann in the DREDF 504 video with the big 70s glasses and pearls. The next day she came to speak to us. After I heard her speak, I learned that just a bit of time ago we could not go to the movie theaters. I learned that people chained themselves to buses in protest so I could ride. I learned that even something like the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act], which I did not even think about because it was so a part of my life, was something that people dedicated their lives to making sure it was passed.

Where would I be if I still did not know the things? Where would a whole generation of young disability activists be if they did not know these things? Or if these were never carried out by older activists??? Or even more importantly—where will we be twenty years from now if disabled people do not know these things and recognize they are a part of something larger than themselves? It’s scary to think about.

We cannot exist or go forward without our historians.

We would not be here without the actions of those that came before us.

we love you. thank you for everything.

cripchick.

(i found the clip of the speech from the 504 video that was the IT moment for me. please listen if you have time.)

judy heumann and i giving a workshop. i am leaning on her chair and holding the microphone while she speaks into it

Funny to think that the first time I met Judy, I did not know the disability community EXISTED and the second time I met her was when we had to give a workshop on radicalism and the future of the movement. This picture was taken while someone was telling us their reasons for supporting the MDA telethon. If you look at our faces you can see how experience shaped our reactions, I’m shocked and have my mouth hanging open while Judy is casually but fiercely responding with a smile on her face. : )

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5 Comments

Filed under community, disability, disability history, links

5 responses to “thank you.

  1. Thank you so much for linking, CC…and you look like a politician in that photo! πŸ™‚

    Did you read Harriet McBryde Johnson’s book, specifically the chapter about the MDA telethon? Great stuff.

  2. Thank you for this, much appreciated. I left a longer comment at Sudy’s place.

  3. terrimodo

    Thanks for this very positive and insightful blog, it gives hope to all of us

  4. It makes me sad that so many of our gay elders have passed away during their prime in the 80’s. Every movement needs its elders. πŸ™‚

  5. you … gave a workshop with Judy Heumann?!?!

    lord have mercy, child. I’m so glad I know you.

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