Category Archives: i love my people

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

our monstrosity

i am lucky enough to have a video recording of little light reading her piece, the seam of skin and scales, during our SPEAK retreat in detroit. i can’t describe how powerful it was to play her recording this morning in the silence of my house, except that it was so needed, so haunting, so disquieting, so intimate. so beautiful, just like her.:

“It is time to look the monstrous in the eye. It is time. It is time to say that we are beautiful in our fierceness, and that we are our own. We are not the rejected of what we can never be. We are what we were meant to be. We are not pieces of wholes thrown together incorrectly. We are not mistakes.
We are not inferior knockoffs of someone else. If our monstrousness is frightening, then it is time we bare our teeth and draw that fear close to us and stop being so afraid of our fearsomeness that we fear everyone and everything else right back.

I am throwing my head back, here, and saying it: no more being afraid. Hell no. My monstrousness is not a place of shame. It is a strength. It is the power to say I am mine, and I will tell you what I mean. Not you. I am not any thing trapped in anyone’s body. I am tougher than that, and I have plenty of blood to spare in this body of mine, and plenty more miles to go before any of you can bring me to my knees, and I dare you to try.”

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Filed under i love my people, links

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

singing the mixed girl blues

he thinks my friend and i are blood
(she is near 6 feet tall. i am 4’9.)
i laugh politely
(she has blonde hair. my hair is red lacquer brown.)
hiding my disappointment
(she is white. do i look white?)

sometimes i can see how people could think we’re related
the only time my tongue is accentuated with ah-cham! and aihigoos is when in despair
my pale red-cheeked skin is only olive during the summer time
my thoughts are articulated through southern y’alls, random oh mys, and valley girl “totally like y’know, right?…!”
disappointed i leave the coffee shop
wondering if i should be wearing shit with dragons and cherry blossoms on it
throwing kung-fu kicks around
maybe being his asian american stereotype is better than this.

whenever i feel alone— like now, when people mistake me for white—
i bring my hands to my face
you are there, hidden in the crevices of my palms
whispering “remember me even when it is easy to forget”
yes. especially when it is easiest to forget.
i think about what struggle my ancestors have been through so i can sit here
and do silly things
like lament identity and perceived whiteness

whenever i am ashamed of my broken korean or misspelled hangul
i run my fingers through my hair,
hearing the plucking of gayageums and the sweep of hanboks brushing against the floor
the harmony of fans, drums, and people remind me that we share more than consonants and vowels
i smile, thankful for this heritage

whenever i feel lost in anti-racist work, wondering where my people fit into this black-white dichotomy that does not allow room for families being torn apart by ice raids,
leaves out colonization so we can focus on “issues at home”
and saves stolen land as a topic for later discussion
(while simultaneously wondering where all the non-black people of color are gonna represent)
i want to scream!
instead i think of my sisters and the amazing support system we’ve built for each other
not coalition building, no
but community building and community weaving
inspired by their work and love i keep on

i remember
i myself
am a mixed girl
who is loved
by other mixed girls
by negotiators of this body
lovers of this skin
other occupiers of fuzzy, seemingly conflicting
identities and space
i am loved
and this is enough.

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Filed under API-A, i love my people, identity, woc, writing/poetry

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

coalition building v. community building

And as we carefully plan, to live and care for the land
In all, we share what we can, then we can eat the fruit
And when they tell us our lies, undercover disguises
We sever the ties and never be confused
And when we have to decide, to rise and gather the tribes
No matter the price, we will speak the truth
— sweatshop union, better days

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Filed under community, i love my people, organizing

Here They Come!: the 37th edition of the Disability Blog Carnival

The words carnival and disability together brings many images to mind. Images of freakshows, disability being manipulated, and all kinds of hard times for disabled people are thought of. Here we are though, in 2008, reclaiming and recycling these words together to mean something new. This disability blog carnival, the 37th one of its kind, focuses on the celebration of disability culture, struggle, people, history and identity. Put your party hats on— we’re ready to get started!

“I think it was perhaps the most important thing that happened to me. It formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me, humiliated me, all those things at once. I’ve never gotten over it, and I am aware of the force and power of it.”
—Dorethea Lange on disability

ThinkFreestyle tells us why disability culture is important to her as a disabled Latina while honoring a friend who traveled alongside her in her journey to community. Solitaire Miles shares with us both a beautiful self-portrait and her difficult experience as a disabled person in the entertainment industry. Wheelchair Dancer writes beautifully about how identity is part practice, part culture while Big Noise taps into collective power through pride. Astrid dissects disability culture and asks whether people can rightfully have a disability identity when being excluded from the disability community.
Bladyblog bravely ponders his disability identity and talks about living on the margins of queer and disability identity groups. Fibrofog does a wonderful job also on this topic and talks about how we can not have a single-issue system of justice and expect change.

Baraka describes her disability as a second husband, someone who takes energy from her, while Wheelie Catholic tells us what she doesn’t miss about her pre-quad body. Paula and Tokah both talk about how disability identity sometimes clashes with the other parts of them (and both come up with really cool terms—Paula “cripeleptic” and Tokah “the chippy martyr”). Kay at The Gimp Parade writes about the complicated all-encompassing [inclusive] nature of the disability community. Ettina talks about disability identity as the differences between you and nondisabled people, not labels. Ettina also covers intellectual and developmental disability stereotypes and how her life fits into them. Estee, at the Joy of Autism blog, also talks about difference and how it is not a deficiency [something lacking]. Shiloh also writes about disability being a part of her and even includes an acrostic poem!

Cheryl tells us what life is like when society tells you are lacking in culture or community and makes her own definitions of disability (hint: creativity! Being resourceful!). Terri tells us what she wants— pride, respect, group accountability for ableism, and acceptance. (Check out her list for more.) Mik Danger, one of my favorite bloggers, tells us why people should ally with the disability community and how movements feed each other. Dark Angel radically defies stereotypes with her beautiful queer, blind, pagan, goth self. Matt speculates why people with disabilities are often excluded from houses of worship. Shiva and Trinity and both talk about the politics of passing [hiding your identity] in a very personal way. Trin says “I wasn’t passing. I was telling myself I passed because I couldn’t stomach the idea that maybe I didn’t, that maybe my disability was something that really did affect how people saw me and thought of me and interacted with me.” Shiva says: ”The problem with “passing” and “stealth”, when it comes to liberation movements, is that it’s essentially an individualistic way of seeking one’s own safety, freedom or place in society by moving out of an oppressed or marginalized group, which inevitably compromises one’s ability to fight for the rights of that whole group”.

Pitt Rehab tells us that, with his spinal cord injury, some days he does not feel disabled while other days his life screams disability. Lauredhel tells us how disability impacts day-to-day routines, like going to the doctor. After some seizures and TIAs, Elizabeth McClung writes in with an emotionally raw post and a letter to herself reminding her who she is. Annaham shares with us a self-portrait where she has needles poking every part of her body but still has her fist raised. David shares his painful experience of hearing a disability slur in a safe space. Perennial Sam shares her first blog post ever with us, one that describes the nature of her mental health disability. Yanub, author of Yet Another Never Updated blog (lol), also writes about the nature of her disability and her journey with it. Amandaw tells us of the way she reluctantly [slowly, unsurely] uses the word “Disabled” and her reasons for it. gives us a Hymes asks us a series of questions around how she is treated as a person with a psychiatric disability.

Elizabeth explains why it isn’t autism that she wants cured but rather neurotypicality [the idea that everyone has to think, behave, and communicate in the same way]. Pocochina writes about her struggle with accepting disability and figuring out if she is a part of the community. Zan at Butterfly Cauldron writes about the need for grieving over the changes in one’s body and life because of disability. Verlidaine talks about the “why you” stare when she calls out ableism. Athena and Ivan talk about the ups and downs of disability or autistic pride and the need to sometimes be guarded about disclosing [letting people know] their disability.

Three new websites were shared with us during this carnival: Endeavor Freedom, a networking site for disability activists and everyday people, Feminist Mental Health UK, a group blog focused on mental health issues, and Hows Your News, a fun media site about a group of disabled people making their mark on pop culture!

Julia also shared a fierce poem inspired by Frida Kahlo. Though I was not able to access it because I don’t have an Endeavor Freedom password (yet!), it is Comment #33 on this thread.


Whew! Quite a carnival! If you haven’t had time to post yet, feel free to keep sending your posts this way and add to the dialogue!

A special thank-you goes to Penny who, from my 5 second internet research, has been working on the carnival since September 2006. Many props and thanks also go to the 40 bloggers who put a lot of thought into their posts and submitted them and/or were found out (grin) by Penny at the Disability Studies Temple Univ. blog.

The next blog carnival will be at Ryn Tales on the 22nd so be sure to visit over there and find out more.

Again, please feel free to keep submitting!

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Filed under ableism, abolishing medical and charity models of thinking, community, disability, i love my people, identity, internal change, intersections, links, Uncategorized, writing/poetry