Tag Archives: disability rights

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.

 

This . . . for every unpleasant restaurant/access encounter we’ve ever had.

The whole thing is about 1:50, but the fun part starts at 1:21, if you’re really impatient.

From the USA Network series “Complications,” Ep. 6.   Here is a captioned version — in a link, not the original, because I’m not very good at screengrabs and the audio is messed up.

“Valid point, but different conversation, folks.”

There is a lot of overlap between the way cops treat African-Americans and the way they treat people with disabilities.  And in Denver, that conversation blurs into  one about the Denver Sheriff Department’s violence and incompetence.  There are times that call for conversations about overlap and blurring and intersectionality, and there are times we need to FOCUS.  Right now, we need a bit of focus on a specific problem:  the mortal danger of being an African-American — specifically, a young, male African-American — in any action with the cops.

Often discussions of derailing can sound like shutting down.  That’s why I like the way Anita puts it:

Valid point, but different conversation, folks.

Stop Derailing This Conversation! – Musings Of An Angry Black Womyn.

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Who Would Jesus Fear?

The residents of Indian Village are fighting mad about the potential location of a group home for mentally ill youth in southwest Louisiana’s Allen parish.

“We don’t have a problem helping people,” said 57-year-old resident Beth Courville. “We are a Christian community, a hard-working community.”

“Our fear is fear itself. We don’t know what’s going to be in our backyard,” said Courville. “We would like to stop this nightmare from happening to another community.”

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

My peeps!

My phone only shows the last line in a series of instant messages on the notification screen.  As I was driving yesterday, I saw a message from my friend Carrie:

So I need a couple of judges.  You in?

Carrie is a kickass lawyer and ED of the Center for the Rights of Parents with Disabilities.  She is also very involved in her kids’ schools.  So of course I thought, cool! a moot court!  about disability rights!  maybe with students!

When I next stopped, I was able to read the previous message and discover the august forum in which I was being asked to ascend to the bench:

I have decided we need a disability peeps diorama contest.

Yellow robes, perhaps?  But because it’s Carrie, the Disability Peeps Diorama Contest went from passing thought to reality overnight:

Disability peeps contest

Don’t delay!  You only have a month to create your disability peeps diorama!

 

Why I love Autistic* women (and you should too). (Guest post!)

[I have been blessed with a guest post by Corbett O’Toole, longtime activist and kickass good writer. ]

My life and disability activism entwined since my early childhood with polio.  I got the good, bad and ugly of the 1950s Poster Child years.**  I got to be the “problem” at my public school (they threw me out after kindergarten because they said my climbing the school stairs would be a ‘liability’), and then an “inspiration” at my Catholic school as the only person with a visible disability (where I climbed 2 flights of stairs everyday).

After I graduated from college, I moved to Berkeley, California with a friend and fell into the Disability Rights Movement.***  We made history (well I just followed along and did what I was told (mostly)).  We got curb cuts on city sidewalks, stopped inaccessible public buses with ADAPT, even shut down HEW director offices in the 1977 Section 504 sit-in.  I saw lots of folks come to Berkeley and then start their own dreams.  It was a time of action (and a whole lot of sex, drugs and rock and roll but that’s another blog).

But by the mid-1980s a lot of disability activism disappeared.  We went mainstream and many folks saw our organizations as service providers not activist centers.  And we started to narrow who was included in “disabled”.  When the first generation of AIDS folks came to our centers, we gave them minimum services (and some places just turned them away).  When the hemophiliac folks started dying from tainted blood, we acted like they were not us and turned away.  Little by little our public face became more about getting public acceptance for specific groups of disabled people (i.e. “us”) and less about disability justice.****

I continued to participate in disability rights work but increasingly I was on the margins – working on queer disabled issues, building bridges with other marginalized crip folks like disabled people of color.  We were not being invited to the official disability tables (not even as token speakers).  Often it felt like the days of serious activism – in your face, on the streets – had passed.

Then I met the Autistic women.  They blew my mind with their honesty, compassion and stunning intellect.  Have you read some of their blogs? I did.  They name injustice.  They call for action.  They help each other out.  They prize kindness. And they are over-the-top smart.

And for their efforts, they are routinely derided, receive hate mail, and are largely ignored (and often shunned) by people in other disability communities.

Here are some of the things I learned from Autistic women (and a few men).  Remember these are folks who are usually excluded from disabled and nondisabled communities; their disability-related needs are ignored; they have no money (or jobs) – yet – they, in my opinion, are leading the way towards disability justice.

SPEAK OUT

Every week there is a news report of an autistic child or adult who was murdered (or nearly murdered) by someone close to them.  In response to the latest one, Alyssa called for a new blog to respond.  Within an hour, a group of Autistics created “Voices for Justice” – a place to fight the public complacency about these murders.

Nearly all the press coverage is ‘explaining’ why the murderer ‘needed’ to kill the disabled person who was a ‘burden’.  There’s been hardly a ripple from the other disability communities – except for the National Council on Disability  – even though this happens with lots of non-autistic disabled folks too.  Here is a great response from Beth Ryan, a parent of an autistic kid.

TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER

The Autistics I know and follow online acknowledge that there is a lot of diversity among folks so they encourage people to ask for help as they need. They support each other and teach each other successful life survival skills. They also reach out to parents of autistic children.  Elizabeth (Ibby) Grace has a blog just to answer questions from parents.

They created systems to communicate nonverbally.  My favorite is for public spaces like conferences where people use “Interaction badges.” Kassianne explains it best.  Using red, yellow, and green pieces of colored paper we indicate our social availability.  When I am open to social interaction I display my green paper.  If I am feeling less social then I show yellow.  If I am out of juice and need to recharge, I show red.

TELL THE TRUTH

Most of the non-Autistic disabled folks that I know pretend that their disability doesn’t really impact them all that much.  Oh yeah, we complain about our stuff when it’s breaks our patterns – like when a wheelchair breaks – but we rarely talk about what works and doesn’t work everyday for our bodies/minds.

But the Autistic women do talk about this in a much more public way.  Someone might blog about how they can either get work done or clean because they don’t have enough energy for both (I can totally relate to this).  They even created a blog for all the stuff even they don’t like to discuss publicly to help parents of autistic children get some insight, support and strategies.

FIGHTING BACK

They are fighting back against ignorance (“autism = inability to feel empathy”), abuse (electroshocking of young children for “education”) and active annihilation (the murders mentioned above and public “education” campaigns that urge people to “prevent autism before it steals another child”). They challenge the methods and messages of organizations that want to “eliminate autism” (as if it was an scratchy coat) and spread misinformation.

WHY YOU SHOULD TOO

It took me a while to find a bridge into the Autistic world.  Autistic lawyer Shain Neumeier got me started and university professor and Autistic Elizabeth (Ibby) Grace brought me in.  I’m writing this post (THANK YOU AMY) because the kick-ass, fight-back, David-and-Goliath-work these Autistic folks are doing is amazing and needs your support.  They are an incredibly literate bunch and an easy way to find them is through their writings.  It will be well worth your time.  Here’s a taste:

Alyssa Z is a triple major college student (math, engineering and Chinese) who writes Yes, That Too.

Elizabeth (Ibby) Grace is a queer Autistic married mother of two who writes two blogs: Tiny Grace Notes AKA Ask an Autistic and NeuroQueer.

Autism Women’s Network has lots of fabulous writers.

And some great parent blogs:

Brenda Rothman writes Mama Be Good.

Ariane Zurcher writes Emma’s Hope Book.

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* I figure that since this is Amy’s blog, I need to follow her protocol and put in as many *footnotes as possible.   I think her record is 5 – I’m hoping to break it.  Back on topic: “Autistic” is the preferred term by many autistic activists.

**  In the 1950s, and for a long time after, children with disabilities were traipsed out like dogs at a Kennel Club show to raise money for organizations run by (and often for) nondisabled people who said they were “helping the handicapped”.  Neither we, nor our families, received any compensation for our ‘performance’.

*** You can read about this history at the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement Oral Histories.

**** Before you start yelling at me (well, really at Amy since this is her space), I acknowledge that lots of good legislative changes happened because of our ability to be more effective and mainstream.  Lots of college kids got support.  But this blog is about activism and not mainstream stuff.

This is why I never read comments on news stories

On Friday, the judge in our case against Hollister stores and their inaccessible front entrances ordered that the violations be remedied within three years.

Red Alert Politics — “an online publication written by and for young conservatives” — gave the case a straightforward, factual write-up.  There are two comments.  The first is I guess a typical conservative response:  it’s their store; they can do what they want.  Not respectful; not even legal; but plain vanilla conservative.

The second comment was this, by someone designated with a little star as a “Top Commenter”:

yeah well obama is all about controlling and lying…he’ll cost anyone money he can, direct the DOJ to infringe on multiple constitutional rights and keep doing it…

think about this, any speech charge, using what you say in court against you – is against the first amendment, that is saying that you’re freedom is speech can be used against you – that’s a law to the contrary, or the second ammendment – you have the right to keep and bear arms….

article 6 is the supremacy clause and the oath that judicial branches, judges, senators, congressmen, even the president takes….

any charge for a speech or a gun is unconstitutional — ever wonder why when they charge people with murder charges, the gun NEVER EVER comes up? lawyers of that caliber would shit on it….just like america needs to shit on obama, and carry guns, and exercise their god given rights, that their ancestors fought to ensure were protected.

So in response to the fact that Hollister stores will be required to fix their raised front entrances to make them accessible to customers in wheelchairs, we are supposed to “shit on obama and carry guns.”  Ladies and Gentlemen, I present:  Conservative Logic and Spelling 101.