Category Archives: politics

casting my ballot

“hey lady! hey lady! they have curbside voting!”
a group of 15 or 20 people stand on the sidelines and shout at me as i get out on the lift of my van.

“i know, that’s great, but I’M going to vote INSIDE!” i yell back loudly, annoyed at having to have said this allllll morning already (i have some serious health issues going on & it seems as though everyone and their mother had a personal investment in making sure i did not go out in the rain).

i expect the crowd to be embarrassed or something but instead they erupt in cheers, clapping, and you-go-girl!s.

what’s more american dream-y than the disenfranchised stepping to the polls, right? i walk by, waving at all of the people like a star.

just kidding. the totally fun moment turns serious when one of the folks breaks the line and approaches me:

“i just want to say thank you.”
she says all big eyed

“for what?” i ask pretending like i don’t know. i’m about to be really annoyed if she’s going to go inspirational crip on me and ruin my big first-time voting moment.

“for coming out to vote.”

oh great. she really is going to ruin my moment! damn! i brace myself for the on-coming pity party.

she continues:
“my husband is handicapped. he just began riding an electric chair and i couldn’t get him to come volunteer with me. a few weeks ago he was at a store and after knocking out a whole aisle of candy, he is too embarrassed to come out. plus with transportation being the way it is, everything set up against you, you know?”

i nod and explain that for the first year that i used a powerchair, my specific expertise was in knocking down store displays, particularly large pyramids of shoe boxes. she smiles in shared understanding and continues to open up, telling me more about all the issues her husband is facing as someone who has just acquired a disability. we brainstorm solutions and exchange phone numbers. i go inside, vote, wave to her, and leave.

i’m not much for electoral politics but moments like these really remind me how important policy and participating in the political process can be as tools for the advancement of disabled people. as disabled people, our lives are intertwined in the system. the stakes are high and bad policies play out in intimate, real ways for each of us. i have hope that next time elections come around, she and her husband will be out on the sidelines together.

“Vote as if your life depended on it. It does.” Justin Dart.

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Filed under disability, politics

‘Bout time?

From the Queer WoC blog:

I’m kinda tired of hearing some folks for either Clinton or Obama say “it’s about time we had a woman candidate.” Or “it’s about time we had a Black candidate.” No it’s not. It’s not about time. The time, folks, has come & gone & has been past due for many many moons. This country has been overdue for a minority candidate for a long while & by now we should have had a bisexual, transgender, half Asian, half Black, half Dutch, half Jewish, wheelchair using former mental health patient by now. For the love of gawd people stop staying it’s about time.

😀

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Filed under links, politics

changemakers as celebrities

A few months ago, I wrote a post about individualism and our culture’s need to have a hero. After this post, I talked to YD about Justin Dart [considered to be father of the Disability Rights Movement] and found out that as much as we put him on a pedestal and beg, pray, and wish for another leader like him, he wasn’t about that. She shared this quote with me and told me different stories where he was constantly emphasizing community in a personal and political way:

“The notion that any one person is the single cause of any significant social change-that Abraham Lincoln alone freed the slaves-is a devastating stereotype which robs individuals of responsibility and credit, and actually inhibits social change.”
—Justin Dart

I then saw this video on Slant Truth’s page and this commentary about Dr. King titled Why is the Only Good Civil Rights Leader a Dead One?. The video is about 10 things Dr. King said that you haven’t heard. I am reminded how our society and our educational system twist these people into a new myth that is often not what they were originally about.

Even radical concepts— like disability pride in a world that says disability is ugly— are watered down into completely messages to promote other agendas, like mainstream inclusion and other things that can be important but use pride just as one tool instead of a lifestyle change. A friend, who is an Obama fan, and I had a conversation last night about Barack Obama as a celebrity. I haven’t totally pinned down my feelings on this but as I watched the Yes I Can video over and over last night at 2 am and was inspired (which is what it’s supposed to do), it made me uncomfortable that Si Se Puede was used without any historic mention of it (is that any different from appropriation?). And it’s more than just appropriating a term or phrase, it’s the idea that voting in a new president is revolution though his policies are identical as Clinton’s and as a politician he is not in a position to really create really militant change. Though I support Obama and will vote for him in our May primary, it really worries me about the after effects of having a politician masquerading as a community organizer and using the mantra of real change as a means to get him in office. What will happen if he loses or doesn’t deliver the change people have been promised?

I like what Grace Lee Boggs wrote here:

To build the movement for change will not be easy. The challenges we face demand profound changes not only in our
institutions but in ourselves. To become part of the solution,we must recognize that we are a large part of the problem. That means we can’t leave it all to Obama. Instead of being followers of a charismatic leader,we must be the leaders we’ve been looking for. This is the best way to make Obama less vulnerable to corporate funders and lobbyists. It is also the best way to protect him from the assassins who gunned down so many charismatic leaders in the 1960s.

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here’s your cookie

“You’re talking to somebody who talked about gay Americans in his convention speech in 2004, who talked about them in his announcement speech for the president of the United States, who talks about gay Americans almost constantly in his stump speeches.”
  —Barack Obama

Ohhh. Well, yeah, sure, go ahead and support funds raised from people who blatantly hate queer people then.  That whole mentioning-us-in-your-speech thing makes it okay. Here’s your cookie. I hope it’s worth it. Continue reading

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Filed under homophobia/heterosexism, politics, queer

Must-Read Links for the Weekend

Coverage of the Dem presidential candidate debate last night re: queer issues “If you want to tack the “T” on the end of the acronym [glbt], at least ensure that you REPRESENT us! Don’t do what a lot of groups do and have that letter there, yet not be able to understand what matters to those of us who go through transition or are gender-variant, much less only slightly acknowledge (or not acknowledge at all) our existence in contrast to the questions pertaining to gay men, lesbians and bisexuals!” (—katiegeek23.wordpress.com)

Ruben Navarro, disabled man given morphine so docs could have his organs “Right now, the big concern in the public dialog appears to be that the publicity surrounding this will negatively impact the rate of organ donation…In a state where assisted suicide is still a hot and popular topic, the disability community cannot afford to be silent. This is about the lack of proper community support, abuse and neglect in institutions, the devaluing of our lives in medical settings, and the lack of accountability that exists for members of the medical profession.” (—www.fridanow.blogspot.com)

Military Woman Charged with Her Own Rape  “The rape charges were dropped against the three Airmen who were accused and they were given small fines and a reduction in rank.  But they have now been granted letters of immunity so that they can testify against Hernandez…. If convicted, she would have to register as a sex offender.” (— www.brownfemipower.com)

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Filed under class, disability, links, politics, queer issues/culture