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  1. New Things On the Horizon

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    Logo design of the Wheelin’ & Dealin’ podcast

    The blog has been quiet for awhile, and that is due to all that I have been getting into recently.

    First is the new adventure I am on – I am the co-host of the Wheelin’ & Dealin’ podcast, which made its debut on the CSPN network last week.  This podcast is politically-focused, and I am leading it with Neal Carter.  Neal approached me earlier this summer about the idea, and I jumped on the opportunity.  

    Podcasts has become a new fave of mine, especially since I work from home and can listen to commentary while working.  (It is less distracting and more entertaining than television.)  I have wanted to host a podcast for awhile, but was not keen on going at it solo or learning the audio technician needs.  When this opportunity came about, it fit the bill and eliminated the hesitations I had.  

    If you know me well, you will understand that I have an interest in politics, which was influenced by my Grandmother (Big V) growing up.  Having the chance to discuss politics in a way that is relatable is imperative with the times we are living in.  Plus, it allows an intersectional perspective to be inserted within politics, which is grossly missing at the moment.  

    The responses to our premiere episode has been phenomenal, and I am elated to be on this new journey with Neal; he is someone I respect and have the privilege to call a friend.  

    Take a listen to our first episode and access the transcript here:  Premiere Episode.

    You can find the podcast on Twitter @WheelDealPod, and by using the hashtag #WheelDealPod.

    Along with the podcast debut, I have been traveling.  Late July, I attended the NCIL conference for the first time.  While there, I was able to do some work for my team, as well as see some new and familiar faces.  The main reason I attended was with the hope of being elected on the NCIL Board as a Member At-Large.  I was elected to the Board, and am proud to be one of the handful of young people (under 35) to be a part of this entity.  It will be a two-year term, and I am eager to see what impact my voice and presence will make.  

    Photo of the members of the NCIL Board. Image courtesy of Kings Floyd / NCIL

    Earlier in August, I attended the Netroots Nation conference, which is the biggest convening of progressives.  I was on a panel with 3 disabled activists – Rebecca Cokley, Kat Perez, and Mia Ives-Rublee.  Together, we discussed how progressive spaces can be more inclusive to disability issues, advocates, and the issues that exist.  It was amazing to be on this panel and have an engaging crowd.  One of the highlights for me was encouraging a Black disabled woman to run for office in her area and to push back on the feedback that she should hide her disability.  We cannot shrink ourselves to make non-disabled/ableds comfortable, particularly when we represent several intersections.  I plan to keep in contact with this young woman and support her journey in office in whatever capacity I can (#SupportSouthernBlackDisabledWomen).  

    What stood out to me most about Netroots was the vigil and rally I took part in.  We marched in response to what took place in Charlottesville that very weekend.  Our path led us from the hotel to Georgia State Capitol.  As I was wheeling, I thought about all of the marches that occurred before my time, aimed to rid our society of the very ills we were marching about.  It was also humbling to be alongside the legendary Dolores Huerta, who is 87 years old and still making it her mission to fight for our rights.  I recorded the march on Periscope, and have seen a lot of the features about the march on social media.  It was humbling and energizing to be a part of that moment.  

    Image of me marching with Delores Huerta, Kat Perez, and Mia Ives-Rublee. Image courtesy of the Akonadi Foundation.

    When I am not jet-setting or being a part of interviews, I have been working on the upcoming projects for RYV!, that will be launching this fall.  I cannot wait to debut the Patreon page and exclusive content I plan to issue to Patrons.  2017 has been the year of new beginnings in my work, and I am looking to end the year stronger than I could have imagined.

    So… stay tuned for more posts, updates, and action from me.  🙂  

  1. 4 Years Going Strong:  RYV! Anniversary Reflection

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    Image description: Top of a chocolate cake with candles lit. Candles are curved and multi-colored.

    Image description: Top of a chocolate cake with candles lit. Candles are curved and multi-colored.

    Today marks the fourth anniversary of Ramp Your Voice!  The past year has been filled with so many opportunities, connections, partnerships, and articles that has resonated with individuals within and outside of the disabled community.  

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  1. Why “Claws” Autistic Character Dean Should Be Played By An Autistic Actor

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    Harold Perrineau as Dean. (Turner Press / CLAWS)

    Harold Perrineau as Dean. (Turner Press / CLAWS)

    A new summer show favorite has been CLAWS, which features the incredible Niecy Nash as Desna, a woman who has big dreams of owning a high-end salon and caring for those she loves.  A surprise in the series is the character Dean, who is autistic and Desna’s brother.  Dean is a complex character, mainly due to the fact that the portrayal is a cripping up one; Dean is played by Harold Perrineau.

    I had hoped that someone would write about this conflict, and Monique Jones gave her perspective earlier this week.  I wanted to boost the thoughts of someone who’s Black and autistic on the blog, and am gracious Monique gave me permission to cross-post her article on RYV!  

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  1. BuzzFeed, Dating In A Wheelchair, & Representation:  Interview with Lolo

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    Screenshot of the title of the video:  “Thoughts You Have While Dating In A Wheelchair” (Buzzfeed)

    Screenshot of the title of the video:  “Thoughts You Have While Dating In A Wheelchair” (BuzzFeed)

    Buzzfeed is known for creating videos about diverse life experiences, and it has recently produced one that I can wholeheartedly relate to.  The video is “Thoughts You Have While Dating In A Wheelchair” that features vlogger Lolo.  Lolo’s performance spoke deeply to my spirit.  It was the first time I saw a Black disabled woman talk about dating in such a way that resonated with my own experiences.  In her role, Lolo brought the funny with her “heels or boots?” question and gushing about how her date was so strong when helping her in the Uber.  The thoughts and concerns Lolo portrayed are ones that were too realistic – I could not stop laughing at the truth gems dropped in the video.  

    I reached out to Lolo because I had to know who she was, and I am grateful that she afforded me the pleasure of interviewing her for the blog.  In the following interview, Lolo shared with me about how she got the role, why doing this video was important to her, and her ambitions as a disabled vlogger.  

    Without further ado, here is Lolo, in all of her Black disabled girl magic glory:

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  1. Disability, Slavery, & The Call to #PickUpUnderground

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    Aisha Hinds as Harriet Tubman (WGN America)

    Aisha Hinds as Harriet Tubman (WGN America)

    Social media was abuzz with shock earlier this week when we learned that the critically acclaimed show Underground was canceled on WGN America after two seasons.  I was incredibly upset that this dynamic show and its compelling depiction of slavery would no longer be returning for a rightfully earned third season.

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  1. The Hashtagversary of #DisabilityTooWhite

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    Image of a drawn character in a wheelchair wearing a cone party hat against a solid black background. To the right of the character reads the words: "It's a hashtagversary!" Underneath the character reads the words: "#DisabilityTooWhite"

    Today is the hashtagversary (hashtag anniversary) of #DisabilityTooWhite.  I cannot believe it has been a year since the hashtag went viral, and how it changed my life and the dialogue in the community.  

    It still astounds me that something I created from an impassioned reaction to an article stirred up so much conversation and controversy.  The hashtag forced me, and others, to discuss the elephant in the room – the racism, invisibility, erasure, lack of representation, and othering of disabled people of color.  Our community can no longer feign that we do not recognize the inequality that exists within; the hashtag has the “receipts” of the injustices enacted on those of us multiple-marginalized.  The hashtag allowed people to understand that they are not alone in how they have been mistreated, abused, and ostracized in the community.  That realization validated their feelings and experiences, which was a powerful confirmation so many received.  

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  1. #IAmAPreExistingCondition: Medicaid is the Lifeline that Saved Me

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    Image of a stethoscope and pen lying on top of a medical chart.

    I owe my health and ability to live in this disabled body to Medicaid.  It is the social program that is will be under attack if the Senate accumulates enough votes for the American Health Care Act (AHCA).  The AHCA is the replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.  There are provisions within the AHCA that will impact those of us with pre-existing conditions and/or utilize Medicaid.  

    The disabled community, including myself, have been very vocal as to the harm the AHCA could cause for us.  I’ve taken part in discussing my own story & urging our Senators to vote “no” by using the #IAmAPreexistingCondition hashtag, and being interviewed by Al-Jazeera along with other advocates about the bill (click to view Part I and Part II).  

    I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Center for Disability Rights this month that outlines why Medicaid matters so much to me, and why the AHCA would be dangerous for my people.  We need more disabled voices proclaiming that healthcare is a human right that should not be deemed as an optional circumstance to acquire.  

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  1. Flexin’ My Melanin & Talking About #DisabilityTooWhite at the NABSW Conference

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    White background with drawings of 4 Black women from the shoulders up of various skin tones and hairstyles. Each woman is wearing an alternating pink or purple top.

    I took a hiatus this month from blogging to prepare and attend the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) conference in National Harbor, Maryland.  It was the first time I attended the conference, as well as presented about #DisabilityTooWhite to my social work colleagues.  I was ecstatic to attend a conference where I would be surrounded by melanin, and it was the spiritual and emotional rejuvenation I needed.  

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  1. #BlackDisabledGirlMagic Series: Keah Brown, Entertainment Journalist Using Her Words to Empower

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    Photo of Keah Brown, a brown skinned young Black woman. Keah is looking directly into the camera and smiling. She has her hair straighten and parted to the side, and wearing a white, red, and denim colored sweater.

    One of the reasons I wanted to do this series was to capture the diverse lives of Black disabled women. Very few spaces have given us the opportunity to discuss what it is like to be a triple minority, much less by someone who possess those same identities. Providing an environment where people can be candid about the obstacles they face while navigating the world and embracing who they are is an important part of my advocacy work.

    Keah Brown is a 25-years old entertainment journalist, writer, and essayist from Western New York. She recently created the #disabledandcute hashtag that went viral in February. This hashtag allowed disabled people to proclaim and display the diverse beauty that exists in our community. Keah is a dynamic writer and friend, and her presence in the community cannot be ignored.

    Here is Keah in her own words about learning to accept herself and using her work to empower other Black disabled women:

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  1. #BlackDisabledGirlMagic Series: Kerima Cevik, Disabled Writer, Activist, & Redefining the Rules

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    Photo of Kerima Cevik, a brown-skinned Black woman. Kerima is facing away from the camera, with her beautiful gray hair covering her face. She is leaning against window blinds, with the light from the window softly hitting her face.

    It is so important for Black disabled women to have a village – a group of individuals who understand her fully. A group of uplifters, motivators, and truth sayers who will give you gems of knowledge and love when times go dark. These women will understand your frustrations in ways that many do not and cannot You will never have to “prove” why something hurts because they will automatically know why – they have been through it too. Becoming an advocate has allowed me to build a dynamic village of disabled women, particularly Black disabled women, who hold me down and will empower me when my spirit is running on E.

    One of those women is Kerima Cevik, a disabled mother, writer and blogger that resides in Washington, D.C.  Kerima was one of the first Black women I found who has written about historical Black disabled people.  She has inspired me to do the same, as seen when I feature disabled Black people whose stories are left out of the history books.  Kerima’s interview is a powerful read, so much so that my heart was overwhelmed at the truth gems she dropped for this series.

    Without further ado, here is Kerima, in all her unapologetic and fierceness being:

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