Category Archives: crip culture

HOT— Sins Invalid 2008 online!

the good folks with Sins Invalid, a show promoting unshamed beauty in the face of invisibility, has put clips of their performances online. hot hot hot.

first one doesn’t have any verbal narration, second one is captioned (click the arrow pointing upward and then CC), and the third has terps in the right hand corner. amaaaazing, disability culture at its finest. not completely work safe.

rodney bell:

seeley quest:

rodney and seeley together (trigger warning):


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Filed under crip culture, links

i believe this what is known as pissing on pity?

This is something I have been writing for school. It’s still in the works but I wanted to post after a conversation I had with two friends about March being the time when all the Jerry Lewis MDA-telethon lovers come out to play (and ask you to donate money for our wretched souls.)


You’re so courageous. Brave. An inspiration. God bless you.
Can I buy you an ice cream cone?
Carry your bag [even though you show no sign of being ready to move?]

This is in the Atlanta airport. I am traveling to Memphis so that I can meet friends, hopefully write some poetry, and go to the Civil Rights Museum if everyone’s up to it. I am traveling with my personal care attendant [PCA], Em, and when she goes to check out some shops, I pick up my book and try to relax until the delayed flight finally arrives.

Except that I can’t relax—privacy is a privilege I don’t have. My body is different. My spine twists and turns in ways unimaginable to the everyday airport passerby. I breathe and talk differently. It’s understandable that people are curious but when people are constantly pulling over to where I’m sitting and telling me things like they can’t imagine living like I do, that I’m an “inspiration”, it’s no longer a mere curiosity about my body. It’s a strong statement on what disability means in this society. It’s the lens in which people view those who are physically “otherized.” It’s the Ashley X treatment and disabled women being sterilized and stunted to convenience [make things easier] their poor caregivers. It’s the high unemployment rate (sometimes estimated at 70%) for disabled people because Jerry Lewis tells them we’re charity cases, not contributors. And it does not matter if I am on vacation visiting loved ones, traveling to speak at a disability rights conference, or working on Capitol Hill, they will still refuse to believe that I wanted to get out of bed in the morning. To them, I am nothing but a modern Tiny Tim whose head seems to need some urgent head-patting.

I could go into my speech about how in the words of St. Augustine, charity is no substitute for justice withheld. I could tell them that I love this disabled body they deem freakish or that I wouldn’t trade the community I share with people who speak, think, visualize or move differently for anything in the world (this is the same bond that Dr. Carol Gill defines as the familiar, comfortable rhythm of shared meanings that Disabled people, even strangers, fall into when they meet.) I could tell them that I’m just like everyone else.

Just. Like. Everyone. Else. Except that particular statement never works. When people hear disabled people say that, they assume that we want to be able-bodied or that we want to somehow separate ourselves from disability. I am proud to be who I am and am not sure how this is message is confused with the wish to be treated equally, or just like everyone else. You will not hear me claim that disability does not define me, in fact, it is an integral part of who I am. Is identity not inherently connected to one’s experiences or how one is perceived?

This is not to say life is not a struggle when one does not fit into dominant culture. My life is one of resisting assimilation [being absorbed into another culture]and struggling to find pride in who I am. Assimilation comes in many forms. Sometimes it is subtle, like temporarily wishing I could take off the disabled/queer/Corean hat and just be a college student. Sometimes it’s more explicit, like the year I spent immersed in only country music and cowboy boots or whenever I choose advocacy over activism because I am buying into the messages that says it is the only way to do something.

Mia Mingus, a fellow queer disabled APIA activist, says that multi-issue politics are not just a winning strategy but indeed the only way that we will survive. Pat Parker, a black lesbian feminist writer, said that the day that all the different parts of her can come along, we would have what she would call a revolution. There is truth in the words of these two women and as I continue to shed preconceived ideas of what it means to be me, I will continue to seek this truth.

And until we meet again, beware of wishing a Chicken-Soup-For-the-Soulish God Bless you on any uppity cripples you run across in an airport.


Filed under ableism, abolishing medical and charity models of thinking, crip culture, telethon, writing/poetry


I had this whole elaborate plan to send out Disability History Month cards to everyone and all I had to do to finish the project was buy paper! Regardless, below is the text content of one of the cards.

Signs That a Loved One May Be a Crip Culture Nerd:

  • ADA Day (July 26th) is a bigger deal than their birthday.
  • There is a good chance they love Yoshiko more than they love most family members.
  • No matter what city, they know which bookstores have a disability studies section
  • They have more fingers than friends who identify as Republican (okay that’s a little partisan…but true)
  • Their photo albums are made up of protests, conference pictures, and drunk disabled people
  • If they haven’t been to an ADAPT action yet, they’re determined to find something and chain themselves to it.
  • They use make-up words like CIL, AAPD, and TASH in daily context (and you’re starting to learn what they mean.)
  • The fact that this person is serving on way too many boards and committees is affecting your relationship with the said person.
  • They’re saving up vacation time to go to the next Disability Pride Parade
  • and…You’ve heard them end every presentation with “i love you, lead on.”

(I love you, lead on.) Happy Disability History Month!


Filed under community, crip culture, disability

i don’t really do Ifs

I’ve never known how to embrace If
Funny since I was born an idealist
& Never have been one of those practicing realists
Maybe this no-ifs-policy is a defense mech’
‘Cause once If gets started,
It becomes a running faucet of unanswerable questions.
Like what if I wasn’t disabled?
Maybe I’d be rich;
after all, I wouldn’t have to stay under the poverty level
in order to keep insurance that would cover my home health nurses
Maybe I’d go to a nice school in Washington…
but I’m not sure I’d be interested in politics
if it didn’t affect me as much
So is that even a fair question to ask?
I am disabled just like I’m female
Just like I’m queer
Just like I’m Korean
Just like I’m 20 years old
There are no ifs about it.
Yet non-disabled people enjoy summing this up as not having “hope”
(that’s their reasoning for why a lot of us are anti-stem cell)
But the thing is…
I have hope– lots of it.
Hope for a community that actually recognizes it’s a community
Hope for an end to my current state of unhappiness
Hope for justice, pride, solidarity.
I just don’t waste my hope on silly things
Like wishing I could walk again.

My dear friend Kara put together a great blog carnival this week and I couldn’t figure out why I could come up with an entry.. Check it out, there are a lot of good “if” questions—like, IF society was different, what would our lives be like?


Filed under community, crip culture, disability, writing/poetry

this is how it is inside my head… :)

Via Sunny Dreamer:

(The clip is totally visual– thanks to Day for pointing this out about youtube videos. Basically is a french commercial that shows a city where having a disability is the norm…i.e. There is a man with an umbrella who has to scrunch down to use a public phone, a woman who goes to a hotel and the check-in person only signs, a library where all the books are in braille, and images of disabled people staring at nondisabled people.) Continue reading


Filed under crip culture, disability, funnies

learning from you

Like many other communities, we have this habit of glorifying a few leaders and not recognizing the work of others. The civil rights movement was/is more than Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X. The Disability Rights Movement was/is more than Justin Dart, Ed Roberts, Judy Heumann. I wrote this poem in memory of the thousands who impacted our community but aren’t spoken about.

Hands are waving in the air
Not in that “heyyy ho” 90s kind of way
But as thunderous cheering from a throng of Deaf folk.
I like looking at you when you’re talkin’ justice
Yelling into the microphones
Wheels firmly planted into the ground
Service dogs are watching sleepily
while the terps work hard to keep up with you.
I like looking at you when you’re talkin’ pride
Some people looked peeved
They don’t like the way you say “disabled” like it’s a good thing
Cause not everyone is going to see disability like we do.
I like looking at you when you’re talkin’ community
Reforming the non-profit complex
Ending this bullshit federal grant dependency
Working together
Uniting in justice for all…
I just wish I had gotten to know you.


Filed under community, crip culture, disability, disability history, writing/poetry

from a place of love

CHECK OUT THE BLOGSWARM OVER AT KARA’S!!!!!!(not too late to join, just email your link to

I didn’t think I was going to blog about the telethon, only because I’ve been up to my eyebrows in telethon-related organizing and with the campaign being posted tonight at midnight, I thought my position it was clear.

I have Muscular Dystrophy, but like NO explains on Think Freestyle I believe disability is a cultural identity and don’t feel the need to label myself with a medical diagnosis. Muscular dystrophy/congenital myopathy/or whatever the doctors are arguing “it” is, these aren’t words I use to describe myself, rather they belong to my doctors and the medical establisment [field or structure]. 

I’ve been reading Accidents by Nature, a book for younger teens written by Harriet Mcbryde Johnson, a woman who has been protesting the telethon for 17 years. The main character is one many disabled people can identify with as she grew up mainstreamed and separated herself from disability because society taught her that it was disabling unless she “rose above” when actually disability is just a natural, beautiful, complex part of the human experience. I don’t know if it’s because the book is set in NC and I recognize all the names, but it’s like I’m reading my own story. I haven’t reached the end of the book yet but I believe she will understand she is like the other disabled kids and learn to be proud of that, rather than trying to deny, hate, heal, erase, or “overcome” her disability.

I remember the moment I learned I even had a community. Continue reading


Filed under abolishing medical and charity models of thinking, community, crip culture, disability, telethon