Category Archives: intersections

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

my girl BA…

always asks deep, on-point questions. damn.

i especially like what she says in the comment section:

“frankly an intersectional ” analysis” sells thinsg moves things makes you look good
Intersectional activity really
often results in you shutting up
Myself included
if I am really class intersectional offering forth and takinga bout
Ihave to sit down and listen
and for real folks arenta t all excited about that”
-black amazon

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Filed under community, intersections, links, woc

tropic thunder

Q:
What do you get when you put
blackface,
sizeism,
old racist jokes,
glorification of war
and outright ableism together?

A: Tropic Thunder

Tropic Thunder is a big-budget film to be released next week. The synopsis on the promotional website describes the film as

“an action comedy about a group of self-absorbed actors who set out to make the most expensive war film. After ballooning costs force the studio to cancel the movie, the frustrated director refuses to stop shooting, leading his cast into the jungles of Southeast Asia, where they encounter real bad guys.”

In the movie, Ben Stiller plays an actor who is upset for not winning an award for his [wretched, offensive] portrayal of a man with developmental disabilities in a movie titled Simple Jack. Robert Downey Jr. plays a white man in blackface. Jack Black plays another actor, one who wore a body suit and starred in a picture called The Fatties.

It upsets me when I hear people let things go in the name of humor. Movies, television, and all forms of media play a huge role in how people perceive things, even when the themes are less obvious. Two weeks ago, Angie Zapata, a young trans woman of color, was murdered (and called “it”) just for being a trans woman. Only a few months before Angie’s death, Dorothy Dixon, a disabled woman, was abused, beaten, and murdered in Illinois. The New Jersey 4 are still in jail for defending themselves against a homophobic attacker (in which the media called them things like a “wolf pack of lesbians”). There are so many more that we’ve lost. We cannot afford to let movies rooted— or quietly lined— in mischaracterization and dehumanization pass by. If it was just comedy, it wouldn’t cost us so much.

Patricia Bauer, a disability rights blogger who has been following the movie, wrote that disability organizations will be meeting with Dreamworks this Wednesday. Be prepared to take action.

Under the cut, you’ll find a R-rated preview and a dialogue between two of the characters that will show you why this is unacceptable. [trigger warning— many violent scenes, language, and all-out offensive stereotyping]

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Filed under ableism, activism, disability, intersections, organizing, violence

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

ask me

the radicalagitator tagged me in a meme that asked me to describe myself in a 6 words. I chose “i am tears, i am beauty” and worked it into this poem i’ve been playing around with for a while. i tag anyone that wants to play (cheating? yeah well this post isn’t exactly 6 words anyways). : ) Continue reading

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Filed under API-A, community, disability, i love my people, intersections, woc, writing/poetry

Forced Sterilization and The Right to Parent

Cara recently began writing for Feministe (congrats, Cara) and one of her first posts was a story linked by FRIDA about a disabled woman, known as KEJ in the courtroom, who went to court to fight forced sterilization her legal guardian wanted for her. The 3 panel judges ruled that there was not enough reason for her to be sterilized.

Disability rights advocates and medical ethicists praised a precendent-setting ruling Friday by the Illinois Appellate Court denying a bid to sterilize a mentally disabled women against her will.

The woman, identified only as K.E.J. in court records, isn’t capable of raising a child on her own, but her guardian failed to prove that sterilization would be in her best interests, a three-judge panel in Chicago ruled.

Rather than celebrating this victory—and a disabled person’s right to bodily autonomy [control] is very much a victory in this ableist society we live in— the comment section quickly turned to the right of a child not to have a disabled parent or more importantly, who would be paying and raising for this kid.

Here are some sample comments:

“…Who exactly IS supposed to raise a child born to a woman who is truly incapable of doing so on her own? I realize that abuses have been and may still be rampant, and many disabilities do not affect a person’s ability to parent, but honestly, if this woman gets pregnant, who’s on the hook for raising that child? The aunt, who is already caring for KEJ?” Comment 4, by Ruth

Who in the world is going to raise that child? Our tax dollars? Relatives dragooned into service through state power or shame? What if the disability is congenital and the child needs as much or more care than the parent? I agree with your basic point, that forced sterilization is something to be avoided. But people who are emotionally, or physically, or financially incapable of providing a decent quality of life for their children shouldn’t reproduce.” Comment 8, by felagund

“I am going back and forth on this, personally. When I first read it, I thought, “Well, she sounds like a perfect candidate for sterilization”. While I am not her doctor and don’t know her personally, I could certainly understand why someone who can’t take care of themself is not going to be a great parent. The article didn’t provide much information on her actual condition, but if she is mentally limited in some way- possible in this case- and unable to live by herself, it would seem almost cruel to the aunt who has already taken on a person who will apparently never be able to move out. It is also likely that KEJ cannot financially support herself, so in the event that her aunt dies, who will care for her and her offspring? And while this is not the case for KEJ specifically, certainly there are some people whose problems are going to be passed to their offspring, making the caretaker work even harder.” Comment 13 by Jenlovesponies

“…I do think it would be unfair to push that child on someone else (the mother’s parents or private caretakers). It’s unfair to the others, and it’s unfair to the child. It’s like giving a puppy to your friend, but your friend doesn’t have the time/patience/love/etc. to take care of it and pushes it off on her roommate, who grudgingly obliges because her roommate doesn’t want the puppy to be unhappy and starve to death. That’s not how children should be brought up!” Comment 14 by danakitty

A friend who lives in Chicago and has been following this case since 2005 told me privately that KEJ has her own house and a good sum of money. Though I have no evidence of this to blog about (it cannot be confirmed until court opinions come out), it is important to note how much the anger at KEJ for wanting children is based on her assumed class. What would the conversation look like if it was a rich disabled person who wanted to have children? Totally different, I’m sure. People wouldn’t hate KEJ and her wishes to be a mother would be understood and perhaps even appreciated.

Many commenters on the Feministe thread have rightfully pointed out how close the argument that disabled women should not be mothers is to the long history of policies and policing based on the idea that poor women should not be mothers. By talking about who will raise or pay for the child we are already talking about class— class and disability, like race, are very much tied together. I believe there are certain aspects of disability (poverty, housing, employment) that can somewhat be canceled out by class and white privilege (look at Christopher Reeve) but recognizing this does not give people the right to determine who are “good” parents and “bad” parents. Though the discussion is on disability, it is very much about criminalizing a perceived poor woman for wanting to have children.

It’s also interesting to think about this idea we have of childrearing [raising kids] and how much that is based on society’s heteronormative [expecting everyone to be straight/heterosexual] ideal of a perfect family: a father who goes to work, a mother who stays home to take care of the children, two kids, a dog, etc. Is this really reality? What happened to the idea that it takes a village to raise a child? Grandparents, babysitters, neighbors, teachers, siblings all play a part in every child’s life so why does it suddenly become irresponsible for a disabled parent to share responsibilities with other people when roles for everyday people are already being shared?

This whole arguement is also based on the idea that the disabled person will just pop a kid out and not plan for it (does this sound familiar? Anything like the racism behind the “welfare queen” stereotype?). This is completely inaccurate. Disabled people, from my experience, are naturally planners. We have to be. Every part of our life (at least for people with physical disabilities like mine) is planned… where I go, how I get there (is there is accessible transportation?), who will go with me (which PA can work?), when will I go (what times are PAs available?) are ALL planned ahead of time. Even the times I PISS or shower is planned.

Perhaps the kid’s childhood will be different than the “norm” or the idea of the norm but disabled people have so much to give (and not just in the tokenized volunteer at a day care way, btw). Is childrearing really just about who gives the kid a bath or is it about teaching values and preparing younger kids for life? Disabled people have so much to teach.. and not in that inspirational if-I-can-do-it-you-can-do-it way.

The ableism in these threads always scare me. Partially because it’s on feminist blogs, partially because the internet allows people to say what they really feel. KEJ’s case is a victory but I’m still left to question whether we’re making any progress.

—edit—

For more information on disabled parenting:

www.disabilitypride.com (blog run by a disabled mother parenting disabled kids)

www.disabledparent.net (parent resource site)

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Filed under disability, intersections, reproductive justice, Uncategorized