http://hematopoetic.net/lethal/

I moved to a new site–ported all of these posts as well as many new ones. A lot of the writing is personal–hope you don’t mind. Check the categories to find the posts that are important to you. Please update your links.

Lots of love,
me

If I did not live in the society in which I live, if I did not have to rush rush rush from task to task in order to get by, if there was less emphasis on competition or keeping up and more emphasis on realizing the human vocation, my body would not be a disability.

Similarly–I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again–school as it is constructed in this society is not about learning per se (at least not for all of us, equitably), but about producing workers and consumers. Why else do communities of poverty and color have so little access to good text books, good teachers, good technology, good inspiration?

Both of these situations keep nagging at me.

I will be returning to write here soon, although whether “soon” means three weeks or three months is yet unknown. I am extremely busy with major life changes at the moment. I am mulling over several topics in the meantime and trying to keep up with internet goings on. When things settle down, I will be back.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. Brownfemipower wrote about disability in poor/of color communities and also about assistive devices signifying disability. I think that the observation that cuff crutches and wheelchairs and the white and red cane code a person as disabled is accurate. This is why people talk about “invisible disabilities.” I think that, in addition to disabilities that have no external signifier (such as severe asthma, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or lupus, to name a few), people who do use assistive devices may be “invisible” (not be read as having a disability) if they also appear young, healthy, or not completely debilitated. I read the journals of people who detail being accosted by complete strangers and told that they aren’t really disabled, or who interrogate them about their disability and demand explanations/justification.

Where I come from, the concept of disability didn’t really exist. People had disabilities, but it wasn’t a point of social organizing or identity. Rather, impairments were a limitation like any other: like not being able to read, not having a driver’s license, not being a legal resident, or not being good in the kitchen. If a person couldn’t contribute in one way, they were expected to contribute in another way. If someone had a disability so severe that they couldn’t contribute, but they were not dying, then they were considered lazy. Short-term impairments garnered some degree of compassion, but if a disability or series of disabilities was permanent, then a person was expected to make the best of things and move on with life. This made mental illness particularly stigmatizing because it was not very well understood and the impairments it caused were not readily excused.

Likewise, the idea of accommodations as a right or an entitlement was foreign. Of course, this was before and just after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law, so maybe the changes just hadn’t proliferated to my community yet. However, inaccessible places were just a part of life that people with disabilities had to cope with as well as they could. This was a poor community and no one could afford the expensive cochlear transplants, the expensive ramps, the expensive elevators, the screen reader. I had a neighbor who was a wheelchair user. He worked at the top of several flights of steps in a building with no elevator. Every day, he would go to work and inch his way up the stairs, step by step, dragging his wheelchair along, then repeat the process in reverse. To give you an idea of how long this may have taken, it took him 15-20 minutes to get out of his chair, climb the five or six steps to the front porch, and get back in his chair. Of course, this may have been because he was so tired from doing the process at work, but you get the idea.

I’m sure there were pockets of enlightenment about disability issues in my community and in the surrounding area. But I think that, in some ways, the same attitudes continue today. I believe that having access to food, housing, relevant education, and employment are basic human rights. When these rights are violated on a daily basis, how can we expect that other rights will be respected? In poor/of color communities where people don’t have a lot of autonomy because they’re at the mercy of the system/corrupt bosses/charity for survival, sometimes even having a job is something to feel incredibly grateful for. I think that keeping us grateful for scraps is a way of keeping us powerless. We deserve better. No, it doesn’t matter what we deserve. We have a right to better.

Zanele Muholi, Only half the picture

BelovedFigureFrom the exhibition website: “Trained at the Market Photo Workshop, Muholi came to national attention in September 2004 with her exhibition Visual Sexuality at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Her work is without precedent in South Africa, where there are very few instances of black women openly portraying female same-sex practices. As a gender and sexual rights activist, and as a photographer, she confronts the notion that lesbian practices are alien to African cultures, and offers a radical break from stereotypical narratives about black female sexualities. She succeeds in transgressing the taboos surrounding black female same-sex practices because of her intimate relationships in these communities, negotiating the boundaries through trust and respect. Her photographs offer a view from the inside, a personal perspective on the challenges facing black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the townships and other communities.”

I am so moved by Zanele Muholi’s photographs. They are candid and tender and don’t feel exploitative like photography sometimes does to me. She has a beautiful eye for same-sex loving relationships among black women. I highly recommend going to the site to view all of the photos–I am not representing the full impact of her work with these two photos. Some are playful, some are serious, but I feel like they all have great integrity. The titles are important!

Kiri Davis, creator of the short film A Girl Like Me, is a finalist in the CosmoGirl film contest. The winner gets a $10,000 prize. Go vote for her!

If you aren’t familiar with Ms. Davis’ work, she made “A Girl Like Me” when she was 16 years old. Through interviews and hands-on research with young children, she demonstrates the prevalence and impact of white beauty ideals on young women and children. It is a moving and informative film. (I cry every time I watch it.) GO WATCH IT AND VOTE FOR HER!

P.S. You can vote once a day! Please go back and vote for her again.

US imperialism and war mongering has a devastating impact on the health of women around the world. Please go right now and read bownfemipower’s post on birth defects and cancer rates skyrocketing from dioxin use (ex. agent orange), pesticides, and depleted uranium bombing. This is not a thing of the past.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.