Author Archives: Amy Robertson

Nevertheless she persisted, disability rights division (a start) (updated)

As most of the world knows by now, the white Republican men of the Senate voted to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren when she attempted to read a letter from Coretta Scott King.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Nevertheless, she persisted.

It’s now a badge of honor, not to mention accurate description of the persistence of the women who have broken barriers in a wide variety of fields.  Herewith, my small contribution:   Nevertheless, she persisted, disability rights division, with an emphasis on ass-kicking disability rights sheroes I know and love, and a few I love but don’t know, but wish I did.

Update: more #persistent women added below; will try to keep adding, but there are so many of you!!!

Carrie Ann Lucas.  [Image:  Carrie, a large white appearing woman in a colorful dress, in a power wheelchair using a vent; her daughter Heather, a smaller white appearing woman in a plaid shirt and jeans, in a wheelchair; behind Heather, Carrie’s daughter Aszia, a tall dark skinned woman in a t-shirt and jeans; Carrie’s son Antonio, a white appearing teenage boy in a brown shirt; Carrie’s daughter Cinthia, a light skinned teenage girl in a pink tank top in wheelchair; and Carrie’s daughter Adrie, a dark skinned teenage girl with a blue shirt and blue hair tie, in a power wheelchair.]

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Robin Stephens and Laura Hershey.  [Image: two light skinned women who use wheelchairs.  Robin in a flowered jacket and black shirt with short salt & pepper hair; Laura in a maroon jacket with brown hair using a vent.  With them, is a light skinned woman in a blue shirt.]

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Julie Reiskin.  [Image: light skinned woman with glasses perched on top of her head, in wheelchair, hugging a golden retriever dog.]  I suppose I should have chosen a more professional photo of Julie, but Julie and Chinook were besties.

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Haben Girma.  [Image:  dark-skinned woman with long hair, holding a keyboard and reaching out to a German Shepherd dog with a harness.]

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Corbett O’Toole.  [Image:  light skinned woman with salt & pepper hair, in wheelchair, speaking into a microphone.]

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Harriet McBryde Johnson.  [Image:  light skinned woman with two long dark braids, leaning forward in her wheelchair over a desk crowded with papers and books.]

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Marilyn Golden.  [Image:  light skinned woman with curly brown hair and glasses.]

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Stella Young.  [Image: small red-haired woman with a black dress and red polka-dot shoes, sits sideways in her wheelchair to smile a the camera.]

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Tatyana McFadden.  [Image:  light skinned woman in striped tank top, sits in manual wheelchair in front of a set of steps that are painted with her image and the quote, “Anything that a person with disabilities wants to do, they have the right to do, and that can change the world.”]

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Ingrid Tischer and Alice Wong.  [Image: Asian woman with glasses wearing a red shirt with white appearing woman with brown hair in blue flowered shirt.]

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Vilissa Thompson.  [Image: dark skinned woman wearing black shirt in a wheelchair next to President Obama.]

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Lydia X. Y. Brown.  [Image: Asian person in checked shirt with short black hair and glasses speaking into a microphone.]

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Stephanie Thomas.  [Image: close head shot of dark skinned woman with braids.]

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Becky Ogle.  [Image:  white appearing woman with short light hair, in a wheelchair, carrying what appears to be Justin Dart’s hat, surrounded by other people standing and using wheelchairs, and on the right, a uniformed officer speaking into a megaphone.]

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With deepest appreciation for these and many other #persistent women with disabilities.

 

Goliath: A ThoughtSnax TV Review

Predictable David v. Goliath lawsuit:  1

Screaming harpy lesbian law partners: 2

Tragically evil disabled characters:  2

Tragic accommodations required by tragically evil disabled characters:  2

Prostitute with a heart of gold: 1

Prostitute with a heart of gold actually named “Gold”:  1

Hilariously accurate deposition objections:  check.

Hilariously inaccurate trial procedure:  check.

Major unresolved plot points:  2

Fat paralegal relegated to storage locker to review documents:  1

Percentage of women who are not the fat paralegal who are rail thin:  100

Awkward references to size of fat paralegal:  1

Opportunities for Billy Bob Thornton to shamblingly, self-depricatingly mansplain the shit out of everyone:  pervasive.

Billy Bob Thornton’s accent when he does this:  adorably but inexplicably Southern.

Missed opportunity for climactic cross-examination scene between BBT and tragically disabled former law partner that might have redeemed the show:  1

Overall grade:  C-

 

PROTECT • RESIST • REACH OUT: a liberal manifesto … with beer and BBQ.

In these Trumpist times, we liberals have three essential tasks.  Spoiler alert:  I propose we all come together at a “table of brotherhood” — possibly including BBQ and beer — to appreciate the important things liberals can do to save our country and its people.

PROTECT • RESIST •  REACH OUT

PROTECT

Protect individuals and groups under attack by the new administration and its fellow travelers.  Whether through lawsuits challenging discrimination and harassment, representation of immigrants, trans* people, and others seeking to secure their rights, or simply standing up to bullies and showing solidarity with their targets, we need to protect our brothers/sisters/siblings from this administration.

RESIST 

Resist the legislation, policies, and nominees who threaten civil society.  Call your congresspeople and tell them Sessions, Bannon, and other regressive choices are unacceptable.  Prepare to work with agencies largely hostile to civil rights, the social safety net, the environment, and other important values and policies.

REACH OUT 

Reach out to marginalized populations whose sense of hopelessness or despair led them to vote for Trump.  I’m not suggesting we reconcile with racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia.  Instead, we need to reach out to people — yes, poor white people — who are feeling so desperate that they were willing to believe Trump would bring positive change to their lives.  People who rely on Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, or food stamps, and yet voted for Trump.  People who have lost their jobs and are under the impression that Trump will bring them back.  These people are going to suffer over the next four years and we need an organized effort to not only protect them (see Item 1) but to let them know that Democrats and liberals are on their side.  My friend Carrie Lucas said it best:  we need to take credit for the things that are helping people.  We also need to be able to convey the ways that the GOP Congress and GOP governors made their lives miserable enough to make Trump attractive.

And we need to do all of this with a deep layer of mutual respect.  One of Trump’s most successful lines was that he opposed “political correctness.”  I personally hate that, because what I hear is opposition to attempts to be civil to traditionally oppressed people. For many folks outside the coastal/urban bubble — even many who are not themselves “ists” of any sort — “political correctness” has come to stand not just for the caricature of having to use specific words for specific groups of people, but for the entire perceived message from elites that they’re doing it wrong, that is, the class divide in a two-word catch phrase.  Everything from “you’re not supposed to say ‘homosexual’ or ‘handicapped’ anymore,” to “you’re feeding your kids the wrong things and I can’t get a decent cup of coffee for miles.”

We need to formulate, promote, and distribute widely a plan to save America from Trumpism — and elect Democrats in 2018 and 2020 — that can be quickly and easily conveyed and understood.  And then we need to convey it respectfully, compassionately, human to human; to to reach outside, drive outside, roll outside, get outside our coastal/urban bubble, connect with people, and talk about these important things.

Here’s the platform:

  • Mutual respect.
  • Medicaid for all.
  • Massive investment in public education including vocational education.
  • Free community college.
  • Higher minimum wage.
  • Sensible gun laws that treat guns like cars:  readily available if licensed and trained.
  • Progressive income tax and social security tax.
  • Sentencing reform focused on drug and mental health treatment and education toward successful release.
  • What else, policy wonks?

Let’s talk about these important points over BBQ and beer.  Not kidding.  My plan needs unifying food and drink.  An army of Democratic-sponsored food trucks.  It was no coincidence that Martin Luther King spoke of us “sitting down together at a table of brotherhood.”  I see a plan starting to come together.  Step 1:  the Democratic party adopts my platform; Step 2:  food trucks.  Who’s in?

 

We need all of us

My previous post was on the stages of grieving the recent election.  One of the things I noticed after my Dad died was that there are also different ways of grieving . . . and coping with loss and challenge.  I also noticed that the average number of dumb things I did and said (and, candidly, that other people said) went up radically during the grieving period.

In the past few days, since the election trainwreck, I’ve seen, heard, and read people grieving and coping in many different ways, some of which made me annoyed or even angry.  I’m trying to hold onto this bit of insight, though:  we need all of us.

We need people who are mad as hell and taking to the streets.

We need policy wonks who are willing to [drink a giant vodka and pepto cocktail and] try to make semi-rational policy with the incoming administration.

We need law nerds in offices with laptops suing the crap out of anyone who violates civil rights and civil liberties.  (I have to fit in somewhere, right?)

We need people who need to hear “it’s going to be OK” in order to get up in the morning and continue to do good work.

We need people who need to hear us acknowledge that it’s never ever going to be OK.

We need people to step up and step in when harassment happens.  Always.

We need people documenting every single act of harassment and vandalism.

We need both those who think this is the apocalypse and those who can pull us back from the emotional brink.

We even need [flying pigs and] liberal Republicans we can work with to limit the legislative and administrative damage to specific communities.

Most of all, I think, we need to be gentle with each other here on the left and the many and various ways we’re coping and processing.

We need all of us.

5 stages

1. disbelief
2. anger
3. comfort food
4. organizing with our wonderful, righteous, loving civil rights community.
5. fighting like hell for the America we all know we can be, protecting our brothers/sisters/siblings who will come under attack,struggling to move the law forward or at least not back, and building a coalition that will elect strong, good leaders in 2018 and 2020.

This is *my* fight song.

Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously, or, conservative thundershirt.

A recent article in Vox,  Taking Trump voters’ concerns seriously means listening to what they’re actually saying, ends where we need to begin.  It makes a very strong case for the proposition that Trump voters are not — as a matter of demographic fact — poor whites pushed to the economic edge by globalization or immigration.   They tend to be more affluent than Democrats, and were approximately the same as Cruz voters.

Trump voters aren’t economically fragile; they are angry, insecure white people.  The article concludes:

What’s needed is an honest reckoning with what it means that a large segment of the US population, large enough to capture one of the two major political parties, is motivated primarily by white nationalism and an anxiety over the fast-changing demographics of the country.

Yes, exactly.  But how do we do that?  We are not going to civilize this part of our population by telling them that they are anxious, evil, wrong-thinking racists.  (OK, of course, that’s what I’m doing here.  But I’m assuming no one reads this blog, especially anxious racists.)

What we need is something like an anxious white-person Thundershirt (TM), which works very well to calm our dogs when they start barking wildly at nonexistent things that freak them out.

(Image: brown and white beagle wearing a tight grey vest around its torso.

If that doesn’t work — or if anxious white people refuse to strap themselves into a tight, gray, felt-and-Velcro contraption — we need some hard thinking about how to make them feel like they belong in the multi-racial, progressive society we are on track to becoming.  Obviously, pandering to fear and racism is not the answer.  Nor is it appropriate to demand that the targets of Trumpist hatred (blacks, Muslims, people with disabilities, immigrants, women, anyone with a shred of decency) take on the task of being teachers, hand-holders, reach-outters, or kum-ba-yah singers for precisely the folks who are currently treating them like crap.

What, then?  How to raise the dialog, create an inclusive environment, and bring the Trumpists along with us?  This will be especially necessary after the election should Clinton win.  They will be even angrier, barking at even more outlandish imagined conspiracies.

This is a very real question that desperately needs an answer.

This cute puppy has a deadly secret!

He stands for dehumanization and potentially fatal disrespect for the lives of people with disabilities.  Resist the Cute Puppy of Death — vote No on Proposition 106!

{Image: brown-haired light-skinned woman holding adorable gray puppy, both in lawn chair.}

Who doesn’t love a puppy?  Because of this, puppies advertise everything from toilet paper*, to beer**,  to the Americans with Disabilities Act***.   And likely for this same reason, Official Cute White Woman Brittany Maynard holding the Official Cute Puppy of Death has become the primary image associated with efforts to legalize physician assisted suicide, most recently Colorado’s Proposition 106, cleverly named “End of Life Options,” while offering only one new option:  death.****

The concept of Ultimate Autonomy is compelling, but both Prop 106 itself and the way it’s promoted are deeply dangerous for people with disabilities.  In my view, these are the features that are fatal to Prop 106*****:

  • “Terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live” is a very broad definition, sweeping in many people who would be dead far sooner if not for the life-sustaining drugs and technologies on which they rely, yet there is no provision in Prop 106 for ensuring a candidate for physician assisted death has been offered or even counseled on these drugs or technologies.  Again: one option — death.
  • Two physicians and, in some cases, a psychologist, must verify that the person is “mentally competent,” a term that assesses their rationality but not other psychological conditions like depression or, um, suicidal ideation, conditions that would result in prompt referral for additional counseling in non “terminal” people.  In Amy Hasbrouck’s succinct cartoon:

Image: cartoon showing a person in a wheelchair looking at a building with stairs leading to door labeled "Suicide Prevention Program," and a ramp to a door labeled "Assisted Suicide."

  • Prop 106 sends the message that lives with disabilities that would be terminal without support are “undignified” and not worth living.  As the Denver Post reported:

In 2015, the top three concerns reported in [Oregon and Washington, where it’s already legal] were of the patient being less able to engage in activities that make life enjoyable, … steadily losing autonomy,… and losing dignity.

It’s not pain; it’s exclusion, control, and dignity.  Control is something we have more and more technology to address; exclusion and dignity go straight to the heart of a disabiliphobic society. Rather than hand out lethal doses, why not find ways to make “activities that make life enjoyable” more accessible to all?  And why have we defined “dignity” in a way that requires you to be buff, mobile, and continent?  I personally believe that dignity inheres in compassion, love, and a twisted sense of humor, none of which requires continence.

Carrie Ann Lucas summarized the problems in a January 2016 op-ed opposing assisted suicide bills pending in Colorado that were ultimately defeated.  Carrie explains that she would be eligible for death under the terms of the bill:

I am a person with multiple disabilities, including a progressive neuromuscular disease that has caused me to lose muscle function throughout my entire body. I have a gastrostomy tube, and I am dependent on a ventilator to breathe. Without my ventilator, I don’t have years to live. I don’t have six months, six weeks, or six days — I have hours. . . . I have a terminal condition — very much like ALS — and if assisted suicide were legal, I would qualify.

Though she qualifies for a lethal dose, Carrie is instead a leading disability rights lawyer and the sort of mom who makes sure her kids know how to cook and fish and protest social injustice. And!  Carrie has a puppy, too!  Her puppy is even cuter than The Cute Puppy of Death.  Her puppy is named Dart, after disability rights hero Justin Dart.

Support Dart, The Avenging Puppy of Disability Rights:  Vote No on 106!

Image: 9 week old black lab puppy laying on his human, sleeping with ears flopped out.

You can learn more at these sites:

******Footnotes********

*Linked image shows Labrador puppy on his back, covered with rose petals, advertising Cottonelle toilet paper.

** Linked image shows white guy in ball cap holding a Labrador puppy up to a fence, in which a bottle of Budweiser is perched; a horse looks at the beer bottle from the other side of the photo.

*** Linked image shows one slide from my attempt to explain Title III of the ADA using a photo of our 6-week-old golden retriever puppy with the words, “Title III of the ADA governs businesses like stores, restaurants, and theaters.”

**** As the inimitable Ingrid Tischer once said, how about if the options included adequate, accessible health care, attendant care, durable medical equipment and technology, and pain relief.   I’m pretty sure Ingrid said this, but I couldn’t find a link while I was drafting this, but also didn’t want to take credit for the thought when I’m pretty sure I read it on Tales From the Crip.

***** The official voter guide sets out the opposition thus:

1) Encouraging the use of lethal medication by terminally ill people may send the message that some lives are not worth living to their natural conclusion. People who are in the final stages of life are often in fear of the dying process. The availability of medical aid-in-dying may encourage people to make drastic decisions based on concerns about the potential loss of autonomy and dignity, not realizing that modern palliative and hospice care may effectively address these concerns. Services such as pain and symptom management, in-home services, and counseling can help individuals navigate the end of their lives while minimizing suffering. Promoting medical aid-in-dying may lead to a reduced emphasis on treatment and development of new options for end-of-life care.

2) Proposition 106 creates opportunities for abuse and fraud. The protections in the measure do not go far enough to shield vulnerable people from family members and others who may benefit from their premature death. Proposition 106 allows a family member or heir to be one of the witnesses to a request for the medication, potentially subjecting the individual to coercion. The measure does not require that a physician have any specific training in order to make an assessment of the individual or require independent verification that the medication was taken voluntarily or under medical supervision. Proposition 106 fails to ensure that the lethal medication will be stored in a safe location, potentially placing others at risk or leading to its misuse.

3) Proposition 106 may force physicians to choose between medical ethics and a request to die from a person for whom they feel compassion. The measure compromises a physician’s judgment by asking him or her to verify that an individual has a prognosis of six months or less to live, yet fails to recognize that diagnoses can be wrong and prognoses are estimates, not guarantees. The measure also requires that the physician or hospice director list the terminal illness or condition on the death certificate, which requires these professionals to misrepresent the cause of death.