though i am active in many communities, most of my time and energy goes towards the disability rights movement. this is largely because it raised me, i work for a disability rights organization and i love disabled people more than anything/anyone i’ve ever loved before.
but damn if the disability rights movement isn’t pissing me off now.
1.) more than 14 queer youth have killed themselves in the last 6 weeks because the violence they experienced at the hands of others was too much to live with. though many of us have experienced almost this exact form of bullying, i haven’t heard a peep out of the disability community. no calls to queer organizations, no vigils, no brown bag lunches.
so — why are we so damn silent? why does the disability rights movement refuse to acknowledge that the root of our oppression is not a lack of a curbcut but a culture that polices and otherizes bodies that are framed as deviant? and when we do talk about bullying, why is the solution anti-bullying laws? is that the best you’ve got — to send youth to juvenile detention centers? what world do you live in if you think the prison industrial complex is a just institution that can be a king solomon to our issues?
i guess it wouldn’t be so easy to push a one-issue agenda if we had to talk about the fact that the bodies society considers deviant, dirty, or bad aren’t just disabled, but also are black, brown, poor, trans, female and living on the res.
2.) society for disability studies, a group of disability scholars, is now wanting to study disability justice, a movement and framework being developed by disabled people of color. this might be okay if the society was led by and predominately involved people of color. but many black and brown folks explicitly say they do not feel safe in sds. many say it is racist. the academy studying people of color is not a new phenomenon.
it might also be okay to host a conference on disability justice if it actually was about disability justice. the cfp begins by quoting paul longmore, a white man. it then talks about the ADA and the UN Convention, both which are important but explictly fall under a rights framework. there is never any mention of the role of institutional violence in disabling communities of color, the myriad of ways people are resisting modern day eugenics, the myth of independence, community accountability/access, or the long list of work disability justice activists are doing.
it means something that white people are wanting to “explore” disability justice before disabled people of color have even reach consensus about it. i’m not trying to say sds, centers for independent living and others can’t do work on race/class/gender/queerness, just that they should start by doing a conference on white supremacy, heteronormativity/more. if you already have, do it again. and again. and again. just be careful about defining disability justice before we get to.
3.) my friend can’t get a job in this movement. we’ve gone through the same ranks. we’re both great at what we do. the difference is he’s black. and dark-skinned. and a man of color. he is on my mind all day, mostly in regards to the roles we are asked to play in this movement and how our roles are so invisibilized. when we go to an event, i am the asian woman doing the behind-the-scenes logistics/”women’s” work, he is the one making people feel welcome in a space, and the white people are the ones networking with the important guests. we sign up for these roles because it is what is expected (and because we are good – aka socialized- for them) but no one talks about the history of black minstrelsy and what that means for him to be the one making people comfortable. no one talks about how so many organizations are run by unseen women who are either underpaid or not paid at all.
and with all this, people still don’t believe things are connected together. but of course they’d don’t, then they’d have to acknowledge we aren’t all in community with each other. they’d have to acknowledge they were hurting as much as they were helping.
*WPS= white people shit.