i recently came home from a whirlwind 12 day trip to portland and san francisco.
my time in portland felt much like a “tour” in that it was not a conference or gathering, it was about seeing me (think “come see cripchick speak here!” x 5 times… and people actually showing up). i kind of fell in love with the gratification of facilitating successful workshops, breaking ableism down and having ppl get it, and getting the respect of people i respect. there was a time where i was looking around the room in portland and was surprised that i could say i hadn’t met one straight person all day — i was completely immersed in queer crip community. (sad thing is i could also say that i hadn’t met one person of color, portland is WHITE yall).
and then i went to san francisco, right?
it was even more mind-blowing. here i was in community with artists, poets, organizers. the sins crew. azolla story fam.
carved out a routine rooted in crip interdependence.
slept in late and started my mornings writing poems under the shade of a lemon tree.
spent the days engaged in conversations with queer crips of color.
stayed in the home of the most generous person i’ve ever met.
spontaneously met up with two queer koreans, only to hear that there were more of us.
explored an accessible city.
ate delicious food.
got deliriously lost in a crush.
no matter where i travel to, every trip home always begins with a deep sigh of recognition. i love the south. can’t imagine living anywhere else. at the same time, coming home was really hard this time. although this is where i belong, it is also the place where my reality is one rooted in military chain of command culture, heteronormativity/hypermasculinity, and the fact that there is not much room for non-black folks in people of color organizing (very much a black/white dichotomy). i kind of don’t know what to do with my sadness. the “right” answer seems to be to move (whether that is another town/city in the south, like durham or atlanta, or another region) but this… is my home.
a friend/fellow organizer once said that this is the question every southern queer faces: “stay in your home of origin or [if even possible,] move to a place where you have more resources?”
As we, Autistic adults and youth ourselves, attempt to assert our voices in the national conversation about us, we find ourselves characterized by those who often speak on our behalf as burdens on society, as not fully present within our own bodies and as individuals devoid of the full measure of personhood and humanity. Such mischaracterization threatens our efforts to be included in our homes, our schools, our communities and our collective society. By making the autism message one of fear, stigma and hostage-taking rather than one of civil rights, inclusion and support for all, our desire to be recognized as full and equal citizens in our communities is hurt.
Picture of the billboard:
Reads: If 1 in 150 American were kidnapped, we'd have a national emergency. We do. Autism.
Last year it took 21 disability organizations campaigning together via blogs, mainstream media, and thousands of phone calls and letters to have similar billboards taken down. In a time where disabled people are the last to be seen as experts of their own lives and where the public understanding of autism is strongly shaped by those with eugenic “cure”- oriented perspective (e.g. Autism Speaks, Jenny McCarthy), let’s celebrate self-determination being recognized and autistic self advocates being heard!
The response to ASAN from ASA-York President Amy Wallace:
Dear Friends in the Autism Community,
Regretfully it has been brought to the attention of the Autism Society of America – York Chapter – that our recent billboard campaign has caused undesirable confusion within the community. The intention of the billboard campaign was aimed at generating awareness to the general public and was in no way created to cause a malicious stir within the community. As a parent of a severely affected nine year old with Autism I can truly understand your passion regarding advocacy and respect for our children.
We thank you for your thoughts and concerns. I apologize for the misunderstanding and want you to know we will promptly remove the billboard posting.
To email Amy and thank the ASA York chapter for taking the billboard down, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Big ups to ASAN and autistic independent media makers (Joe, Abfh, Nicocoer) who made this happen!
“race plus disability divided by sexuality = huh?”
the transcript of this amazing piece is below the cut, courtesy of the brilliant, resilient, truth-illuminating, ground shaking and breaking artist leroy moore. proud to call this artist friend. check out his other work, like sins invalid and krip hop, and be ready to be blown away by this man.
My clients frequently express hatred of and disgust toward their bodies. Interestingly, however, more of them express shame that they are not able to work than over the perceived inferiority of their bodies. The men aren’t macho enough if they have disabilities, the women not sexy enough. But in a materialist society, apparently, the ultimate failure of the disabled is that we don’t make money.
Never mind that discrimination is responsible for the largest portion of the wage-differential between, say, able-bodied white guys at the top and disabled women of color at the bottom–it still feels to us like some kind of character failing on our parts. Never mind that materialism is a rotten way to value people–we still feel like losers.