in one month, i will be taking a hiatus from organizing*. as i organize my last event with the disabled young people’s collective, i am thinking about all of the things i plan to do once this (important) (massive headache) event is over.
in this next year, i plan to:
take my time with everything.
focus on building relationships.
go on southern crip camping trips.
go to corea with other disabled and queer corean americans.
write for anthologies and zines.
buy a house.
have a mortgage.
find more queer PAs.
learn to cook.
maybe take some classes at the local community college to build skills i want.
tell all the stories and histories i don’t even tell myself.
having a list feels really important… a few months ago, i could not even imagine what my life might look like if i wasn’t a Community Organizer (c). i have carved a life/identity/purpose out of this work. now i am noticing all the ways that my life has become about creating a response, logistics, event planning. there are so many events i can’t even be good at what i’m organizing at anymore: everything is a rushed, half-said logistical nightmare. intergenerational frictions come up at events but there is not enough energy post-event to address them in a direct, loving way so relationships with mentors break. everything with comrades feels like drama because we are too busy to really be thorough with our processes so the issues stay there, never going away, just sitting at the bottom of every interaction. the timeline does not allow for people to be held accountable or skills to be really be shared so the same people end up doing everything. half of the low income/poor people of color drop off because they aren’t supported in way that allows them to really contribute. soon, most people with developmental disabilities have left too.
while in detroit last week, i lived with the creating collective access crew, a group of disability justice-hearted people taking care of each other during the amc and social forum. the way we came together felt like something i haven’t experienced in a long time. access looks like such a different thing from a disability justice model. part of my readiness to hang up my organizer hat is wanting the time to build deep, intentional relationships. this is rooted in disability justice.
these are the things i’m really feelin’ right now:
+ access gets simplified into a pre- approved accommodation check-list 1-2 people bottomline. checklist is good because this is often the first time people have basic access needs met.
+ general understanding is that people are entitled to access. it is a right. there are good things about this but it also often means we are only doing shallow/absolute basic access for each other.
+ people come from a place of wanting to change something concrete.
+ focus is in changing the minds of able-bodied people, whether that is awareness, laws, acknowledgment.
+ even if every goal of the disability rights movement was achieved, most of us still wouldn’t be free. the disability rights movement’s refusal to name ableism as a system of power has also been a way to maintain white supremacy, classism, heterosexism as what is right…
+ access is something that is a collective responsibility. it is a constant process. it is rooted in the multiplicity of our selves.
+ access is love. access is believing we need each other and interdependence is how we will survive.
+ people come from a place of longing for each other. each time we reach towards each other, we are cutting across isolation.
+ the work is in building relationships and changing ourselves. we know we will never find solution in the system.
+ DJ rests on the leadership of disabled people who have been pushed out to the margins of what is “right” “good” “clean” “acceptable” by mainstream society.
i am so excited to make room in my life to live disability justice.
* there are a lot of definitions for “community organizer”. here i mean organizer as a person who brings people together in one place for a specific purpose. i am referring to work i do unpaid and outside of my 40+ hour job.