Category Archives: community

kit yan’s letter to HRC

this reminds me of the time a friend and i sat in a queer—err excuse me, glbt with a q following it on the next line—disability caucus meeting this summer. the group invited a HRC person to speak and when we asked why HRC had been invited, we were stared at. then when we spoke up against the group simply focusing on marriage advocacy with so much work to be done, they thought we were stupid southerners who were against gay marriage because of ignorance or overexposure to too much homophobia. needless to say, i left the meeting early, never having been talked down to so much. 

kit yan, from the good asian drivers spoken word duo:

you’re a force with responsibility
so listen, think, then act
you’re an icon of equality
so remember the colors of the community you stand for
you’re the face that the devil trusts
but you’ve become its reflection
hear us, please.
unfortunately we can not wait for you
we’ll be here when you return,
but we cannot wait for you
in the meantime, we’ll fight for ourselves…
-kit yan at 2:10

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Filed under community, links, organizing, queer

dear ada generation,

i’m really really disappointed. and hurt. and feeling betrayed. i’m realizing that sitting in the bathroom of this coffeeshop crying is not productive and know i can’t get back to writing my paper (that’s due in a hour) until i write this letter. 

over the last year, one of our own, micah fialka- feldman, began to fight his university so that he could live on campus. the school accepted his money, gave him a move-in date, and then changed their minds because of an old housing policy that was created before people with cognitive disabilities were allowed to attend through the OPTIONS program. now they are saying they do not have enough space. as you know, students and activists have strongly voiced their support for micah

however, many of you have not. in fact, some of you have come out against micah. now i understand disagreeing if it is because you feel that the university is justified in their policy. we can just call that a difference of perspective and understand that while we enjoy bipartisanship, disagreement is a part that comes with it.  living in north carolina where the disability community can be surprisingly republican, i understand that we need each other to advance our people. 

what i do not agree with, and what i am strongly offended by, is when you use ableist rhetoric and take up an assimilationist politic. we, young folk in the disability rights movement, are called the ada generation because we grew up with rights older disabled people fought for. we, for the most part or at least a higher proportion, were allowed in schools and in public. many of us who are labelled as ada generation have also been given opportunities, like congressional internships, activist training, mentorship, and access to youth leadership development programs, to grow within the movement. what we do with these opportunities is going to define the future of our movement and community.

i think every young leader in the movement should read the INCITE! anthology, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded. the book speaks a lot about the professionalization of movements and what happens when the focus is shifted away from community. the conversations become about leadership skills and how to get business cards, not about ableism and what we need to do to mobilize. disability becomes a 9-5 career.

i feel like that is what is happening with micah. we are forgetting our community. instead of asking why shouldn’t he be allowed to live on campus, you instead ask “why can’t he live off campus like i had to?” and use words like “pulling heartstrings,” “asking for handouts,” “bending the rules” and “using his disability”. you then say “now… if X experience i had was happening to micah, then of course i would be outraged!” really? are we only saying we share support if we’ve experienced what they’ve experienced? this doesn’t sound good for cross-disability organizing. and have we really adopted tools and tactics that have been used against us instead of extending solidarity to micah? 

it’s so disgusting. i know this is not new— that the disability rights movement functions with people from all backgrounds contributing different things—but this ada generation scares me because we say we speak for young disabled people everywhere while simultaneously only caring about our careers. we are working from a network model instead of a community model without recognizing what both models offer (and constrict).

as leader of an organization that has bred many of us, i know i must sound like a contradiction. i think there are many cards stacked against us and we do need networks, mentorship and development opportunities to advance our community. i just hope that we can do these things, and grow into ourselves, without hurting our community. our people. folks like my friend and fellow activist, micah.

hanging on,
cripchick.

more info below the cut. Continue reading

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Filed under community, disability, i love my people

an open letter

Dear Wheelchair Dancer,

Hey sister— thanks for your blog post on the elections, racism, prop 8. I’ve been in such a funny place lately after all of this and your writing really helped me in naming why.

Sylvia posted a tweet the other day about wanting to wrap Obama in bubble wrap, Teflon, a condom, Fort Knox— anything— to keep him safe until January 20th. That’s kind of how I feel about my emotions. And I hate to sound cliché here, but also my hope. My head knows what this election means and what this election does not mean but I still want scream Yes We Can!, rock my Obama shirt in classes full of Republicans, and, well, just bask in the symbolism of it. I want to believe in what everyone else believes in for more than one night, even if a lot of it is compartmentalizing what I know and not thinking about things folks like Moya and so many others are sayin’. So I close my door, download all the free mixtapes people are producing for Obama, and bullshit around happily.

But then it changes, right? At least it did for me, couldn’t even last a week. I read a message from VivirLatino about another mass ICE raid where over 100 people are rounded up in Florida and separated from their families. I hear white racist gay folks getting time on the tv and then blame Prop 8 on communities of color! I get an email from someone I really care about saying someone she knows was being beaten to death from what seems like a hate crime. With tears in my eyes I read of Duanna Johnson’s death and then see talk show radio hosts trying to leave comments on my blog saying they’re advocates while simultaneously disrespecting who she was. All these things tear me right from that cloudy good place. These things come at me like a million lightening bolts, reminding me of all the work that needs to be done and more importantly, who will be the ones doing this work.

It will be us. We will do it cause there isn’t anyone else but us, the people, la gente. So like our dear friend asks in her blog— as organizers, as artists, as community-builders, as dreamers, how can we learn from his campaign? How can we get the folks on the ground, many who weren’t believers in power of people before, to keep dreaming and ready to pick up other tools? How do we stay focused? Clear-headed? How do we build this bigger than non-profits, projects, campaigning?

And what about when the evil, the hate, the bondage is internal— How do we combat these things when they come in the form of our communities, people we love? I mean I didn’t truly understand what racism and white privilege really meant until I got involved in social movements, you know? Is it possible to take these conversations happening post-Prop 8 and turn them into something that lasts? Will there be room to sew close our open wounds, our mistrust? And is it even worth it, trying to work it out with gays and lesbians who will always choose marriage, gentrification, assimilation and capital building as priorities, when so many fellow queers are homeless, forgotten, oppressed, closeted, beaten, denied their humanity?

I’m really hoping you have some answers, that someone has answers. In the meantime, thanks for being who you are, for our gchats, for the love…

In solidarity and w/ love,
cripchick

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Filed under activism, community, homophobia/heterosexism, internal change, organizing, queer, violence, woc

on election night

two disabled girls
both of color,
both in their twenties,
both stuck at home,
sit together over the phone
waiting for president-elect
mr. barack hussein obama
to appear on stage

one girl tells her friend that tomorrow they have to go out and buy newspapers
“giiirl! we’ll be able to point at the framed headline—OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT and tell our kids that their potential knows no bounds!
that they can dream as big as they want
that the world,
this day, is theirs!
our children! my children! my future babies!
god is good. god is good”
she sighs happily

the other one, half listening, whispers “all the time.”
“god is good all the time.”
she is sitting close to the television— 8 inches away to be precise— and without realizing it, she is scanning the crowds looking for trouble, as though she has the power to reach out to chicago and protect this man from any harm
not believing it is really possible for this man, this black man, to be president,
she asks her friend again and again “is this real?”
“will we wake up tomorrow and know this only in our dreams?”
her friend assures her it is real.
a million times her friend assures her it is real.

the first girl, a surprisingly staunch believer in the american dream, cries
she thanks god, believing that this is nothing short of a miracle, something sent down from heaven for the people
a blessed provision that will get us all through hard times

the second girl, the one still scared to let go, continues asking her friend if this whole thing is real
she realizes that though she has spent hours, days, months, preparing herself for what will happen to communities of color if this man loses the elections,
she has not put any thought into what could happen if this man actually won
WON!
her world feels like it has grown bigger,
her lungs deeper
her dreams more possible
if a black man—actually any person of color— can be president, what else will she see in her lifetime?
what things can she, with community, envision, hold close, and build together?
the potential of it all burns brighter than even before
she lets go
the two girls cry together
both with happiness
hope
and for now, the axing of dreams deferred.

here’s to the future.
change we build.
hope we carry.
our dreams.
the dreams of our children.

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Filed under community, i love my people, woc, writing/poetry

neurodiversity & disability

a lot of times disability pride gets watered down into this happy-go-lucky accepting who you are/gaining self esteem bit. though self-acceptance is so important, nondisabled people understanding disability pride in this way disregards the power of disability pride and critiques of ableism. disability itself redefines normal, redefines what is considered dependence, and if included in social justice analyses, can be extremely useful in understanding how the world works. living and practicing disability pride is so much bigger than self acceptance.

i credit a lot of what i know about the revolutionary nature of disability to the frameworks utilized by the reproductive justice movement, queer liberation movement, and the autistic self advocacy movement. in the same way understanding heteronormativity helps me understand institutions, gender, and the importance of queer liberation for society in general, neurodiversity has taken my understanding of disability to a new level. this is why i am so energized by work autistic self advocates and advocates of neurodiversity are doing— the potential for transformation is endless. truly a new frontier.

on that note, the canadian broadcasting company aired a documentary this week on neurodiversity the autistic self advocacy movement that, well, everyone needs to check out. you can watch this 19-minute video and read the transcripts of interviews at:
http://www.cbc.ca/national/blog/special_feature/positively_autistic/

(hat tip to ASAN)

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Filed under community, disability, intersections

proud of my girls…

there are so many amazing things going on that i’ve been meaning to link. this is a what-inspires-cripchick post. lately i feel exhausted and like i’m barely hanging on but then i see revolutionary ideas, projects, ways people can come together that are being envisioned and created by radical women of color and i am energized again. below are some projects friends are working on. This is just the beginning!—

i.

Broken Beautiful Press is continuing the work of the Combahee River Collective, a group of black, lesbian, socialist, feminist writers and thinkers who put out the Combahee River Collective Statement in the 1970s. This new study group/zine group/black feminist group can be found at combaheesurvival.wordpress.com

An excerpt from the new Combahee Survival website:

This booklet moves survival to revival, like grounded growth, where seeds seek sun remembering how the people could fly. We are invoking the Combahee River Collective Statement and asking how it lives in our movement now… Black feminism lives, but the last of the originally organized black feminist organizations in the United States were defunct by 1981. Here we offer and practice a model of survival that is spiritual and impossible and miraculous and everywhere, sometimes pronounced revival. Like it says on the yellow button that came included in the Kitchen Table Press pamphlet version of The Combahee River Collective Statement in 1986 “Black Feminism LIVES!” And therefore all those who were never meant to survive blaze open into a badass future anyway. Meaning something unpredictable and whole. We were. Never meant. To Survive.

ii.

Then we also have the Cyber-Quilting Experiment, a rwoc-led project examining how the internet can be used as a resource for social justice work and movement building activities. You can find the Cyber-Quilting Experiment at cyberquilt.wordpress.com

From the vision page on Cyber-Quilting Experiment website:

As cyberquilters, we believe that what we need is bigger than our individual calendars and our possible days. What we need is bridging of movements. Whole, ready and connected. Where we can see, hear and feel each other. Where we know how to help meet each others’ needs. Where we can unite at important political moments and make a difference. Where we remember, with every heartbeat, that our work does not start and begin in our individual bodies. Where we realize that our work is expansive because it resonates in the working blood of women of color organized, mobilizing everywhere in tune.

iii.

The first edition of the Quirky Black Girls magazine is out! Check it out at www.crawldog.com/qbgmagcom/ The Quirky Black Girls social networking site can be found at http://quirkyblackgirls.ning.com

From the QBG manifesta:

Because Audre Lorde looks different in every picture ever taken of her. Because Octavia Butler didn’t care. Because Erykah Badu is a patternmaster. Because Macy Gray pimped it and Janelle Monae was ready. Resolved. Quirky black girls wake up ready to wear a tattered society new on our bodies, to hold fragments of art, culture and trend in our hands like weapons against conformity, to walk on cracks instead of breaking our backs to fit in the mold.

iv.

mamita mala, a radical nuyorican mami, activist, and an amaaazing poet, spoke at the This Is What We Want speakout this week.

Here is a delicious excerpt (full transcript below the cut:

We cannot just vote with our hands. We need to vote with our feet hitting the streets. We need to vote with our mouths yelling and spitting truths and that can happen around our kitchen tables and in our kalles. Mujeres latinas, we need to vote with our lips, tits, and hips and the history they carry, from forced operaciones that left our women sterile to attempts to take away all of our choices about our bodies.

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Filed under activism, community, intersections, links, spoken word, woc

thoughts on the politics of independence

“the community is not great for anyone until it is great for everyone.”        –WIDU motto
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Filed under ableism, abolishing medical and charity models of thinking, API-A, community, disability, i love my people, race, woc