Category Archives: internal change

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

Advertisements

4 Comments

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

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!

35 Comments

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

because no, the revolution will not be grant-funded

Since it’s break and I’m finally done with all the stress of the season, I’ve found time to do a little reading, a little crafting, and a little writing.

Right now I’m reading The Revolution Will Not be Funded, a book put together by INCITE!. The book is about movements moving beyond the nonprofit industry complex [a system of foundations, grants, and non-profit organizations]. Although I’m probably still only in the first 30 pages or so, words keep popping out at me.

Words like:

“…Allen documents how the Ford Foundation’s support of certain Black civil rights and Black Power organizations such as CORE actually helped shift the movement’s emphasis—through the recruitment of key movement leaders—from liberation to Black capitalism. Similarly, Madonna Thunder Hawk describes how the offer of well-paying jobs in the non-profit sector seduced many Native activists into diverting their energy from organizing to social service delivery and program development. As Joan Roefels notes in Foundations and Public Policy (2003), large private foundations tend to fund racial justice organizations that focus on policy and legal reform, a strategy that effectively redirected activist efforts from radical change to social reform. It also helped to professionalize these movements, since only those with advanced degrees could do this kind of work, thus minimizing the importance of mass-based grassroots organizing.” (page 7).

This is the truth delivered to us in print.

Another line on the next page jumped out at me as well, particularly since Leadership Development is the sole answer for including—dare I say, allowing— young people to be a part of the Disability Rights Movement:

“Another strategy developed to sublimate [transform] revolutionary movements into reformist ones was “leadership training” both domestically and internationally, whereby potential organizers were recruited to develop skills to become policy makers and bureaucrats [government officials] instead of organizers.”

After reading that, I had to put the book down because thoughts about my own community were distracting me from the text. INCITE! describes this topic as the “elephant in the room” [something that is really obvious but no one wants to talk about.] For our community, this is the elephant in our bed. Between the sheets. Sleeping next to us. We’re THAT connected to the non-profit industry and no one really wants to talk or think about it. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under community, internal change