Luke Cage was one of Netflix’s original series I had waited all summer to watch. Being a blerd and someone who enjoys comics, I was proudly a part of the #Cagetember fandom seen on Twitter. What excited me was not just Luke’s amazing abilities, but the fact that he was a Black disabled character, an existence that does not receive enough attention or respect within comic spaces. Luke represents so much to disabled blerds like myself, and I felt that it would only be justly to share why Luke’s existence matters, and the need for more Black disabled characters.
Me in front of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture sign, with the building in the background.
It is no secret how big of a disabled blerd (black nerd) I am, and my love for anything related to Black culture and history. During my hiatus from the blog, I took a much-needed trip to Maryland, and over that week and a half, visited the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture that opened late September. I went to the Museum with two of my awesome Black disabled advocates, and the three of us set out to explore the Museum that was for us, and has been the major talk within our community.
On Wednesday, the Harriet Tubman Collective released its statement regarding the Movement for Black Lives’ policy platform. The Movement for Black Lives, also known as M4BL, launched its policy initiative August 1st, 2016, which highlights the disparities of Black Americans and provides a blueprint to stop the violence and oppression that Black people experience through 6 policy demands.
#GetWokeADA26: Disabled People of Color Speak Out, Part One
by Vilissa Thompson and Alice Wong
On July 5th, we published the #GetWokeADA26 Call for Stories, asking for disabled people to share how the Americans with Disabilities Act has impacted their life experiences, gaps in the mandate that fail to support the unique challenges of disabled people or color, and the need for intersectionality in the disability community and how the lack of visibility affects this subgroup.
As disabled women of color, we believe the disability community needs to ”get woke” on race, racism, and intersectionality. The work of getting “woke” can be hard, awkward, and uncomfortable, but this is something disabled people of color expect and deserve.
For #GetWokeADA26, there were enormous responses to this project through the countless reblogging, sharing, and retweeting across the major social media platforms by disabled advocates, allies, and organizations. In the two weeks that the Call was open, 50 individuals representing various people of color communities, disability types, ages, and sexual identities and orientations answered our request to share, and we were not disappointed by the rich, emotional, and direct responses to each question on our survey. The data we were able to collect was extraordinary – there is so much that it is impossible to include everything in our summary, but we will capture the most poignantwerful and moving points of view shared.
What follows is a description of the themes of the survey questions askedn overview of the survey questions, the representation makeup ofa description of our participantsrespondents, and a breakdown of the responses by specific topics.
Jesse Williams is not only one of my favorite actors on the hit TGIT show “Grey’s Anatomy,” but is also a vocal activist about the Black experience, inequality, and injustice in this country. On Sunday night, Jesse delivered one of the most “woke” award speeches given when he received the Humanitarian Award at the 2016 BET Awards. When I heard his speech, it made my heart almost leap out of my chest at the hard truth Jesse delivered to Black & White America.
Over the weekend, I noticed a lot of chatter on Facebook surrounding the story of Anaya Ellick, a 7 years old girl from Virginia who won a national penmanship contest. Anaya is an African American girl who is a congenital amputee. The contest she entered into and won was the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Manuscript Penmanship. Participants of the contest must be a student with a disability, and a team of occupational therapists judge the entries and award a winner. Anaya beat out 50 other participants to receive this honor, and in the video below, you can watch Anaya accept the recognition, and hear from her mother and school administrators about her penmanship.
Over the past few weeks, I have been approached by individuals who wanted to understand the Black disabled experience, particularly the plight of Black disabled women and why our struggles matter. (The inquiries picked up when I published my “Lemonade” post last week.) I noticed a pattern from those who asked of my knowledge and personal reflections: many are ignorant of the experiences of Black Americans in general, Black women particularly, and when broken down further, Black disabled women specifically.
I decided that as someone who views herself as an “educator” within my advocacy scope, it would be fitting to create a compilation of books, essays/articles, speeches, music, and other bodies of work that accurately explains the diverse forms of Blackness that exists for Black women, and how the lives of Black disabled women meshed within that discourse.
I asked some of my incredible friends and fellow advocates for resource recommendations for this idea, and was provided a wealth of information that surpassed my hopes in establishing a “syllabus” of our intersectional experience.
The Black Disabled Woman Syllabus is a “living” document; meaning that I aspire to update it as needed, when resources become available that should be added to it. In order to do that, I need your help: If there are bodies of work that should be on the syllabus, there are two ways to make recommedations:
Use the hashtag #BDWSyllabus on social media to share your recs.
Lemonade is no longer known as being the sweet and tangy beverage Southerners like myself enjoy on a hot summer day. It is now known as being the title of the visual album Beyoncé released on Saturday night via HBO, and “Lemonade” is responsible for the social media mayhem that transpired. Beyoncé never fails to be an original, and “Lemonade” was a true work of art that encompassed so much depth, emotions, and empowerment in less than 58 minutes. You may be wondering, “what does Beyoncé and ‘Lemonade’ have to do with disability advocacy?” Let me tell you: It has EVERYTHING to do with how we view the life experiences we endure on this earth, and how we grow and learn from them. Being a Beyoncé fan, I did not expect “Lemonade” to strike me as profoundly as it did on a personal level, or to see disability representation within it. “Lemonade” is a short film that caused me to get on a rollercoaster ride, one that made me reminisce on moments in my life that each “chapter” spoke to. “Lemonade” is unlike anything I have watched as a music enthusiast in a long time, and I felt that it was a creation worth discussing here.
Last week, I participated in a Facebook chat about the lack of racial diversity within disability rights & advocacy organizations, from the founders to Board members. Some folks were surprised that many of these entities, especially the nationally known ones, failed to have at least 50% people of color representation.
You know who was not surprised at the lack of racial diversity uncovered? *Raises both hands*
As you may have noticed, there was no new post on the blog last week – I took an impromptu trip to Maryland to attend a Black History Month White House event!
Last week was incredible, in more ways than I can accurately express in words. I still have to pinch myself because I cannot believe that it happened, and that I was at the White House surrounded by so many Black and proud advocates and allies.
Like all amazing stories, let’s start at the beginning…
Important Disability-Related Videos You Should Watch
Here's the Out of Step's TOOST Radio interview I participated in as a panelist on Nov. 6th, 2013. During the interview, I discussed my personal & professional viewpoints about the choice of discussing disability status while seeking employment opportunities. The part that I'm featured begins 15:29 minutes into the interview.
In this video, Beyoncé helps Kid President with World Humanitarian Day 2013. The Kid President has OI like I do. I think that his messages are ones that all walks of life & ages can learn from. I'm so jealous that he met one of my idols & favorite music performers, Beyoncé! I wanted to share with you all the interview the Kid President did with Beyoncé for World Humanitarian Day, which was August 19th, 2013.