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.
If I die in police custody, I died a soldier, a warrior, a hell-raiser, an instigator, a maker of the good trouble.
If I die in police custody, Make them respect my disabilities in the news reports. Don’t dare let them erase a damn thing. I am unapologetically Black and disabled.
If I die in police custody, Don’t weep for me. You better NOT shed one fucking tear. My name means “to love and cherish life” in French. That’s what you are to do for me – share about the love I gave you and how much I cherished the little and big things. Don’t play that weak ass sad music at my funeral. Play Beyonce’s “7/11,” Rihanna’s “S&M,” N SYNC, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, anything by Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz – that is how you are to celebrate my life at my funeral.
Being a Black disabled woman in America is a sheer act of defiance.
What brought me to this statement was the gross amounts of ableism, racism, and misogynoir I witnessed and read last week during the coverage surrounding Korryn Gaines’ encounter and death at the hands of the police.
Korryn’s existence represents me – a Black disabled woman. Korryn had a developmental disability due to lead exposure from living in housing that had toxic lead paint levels. Korryn’s life and death made me think back to what I had written about Blackness and police brutality last month regarding Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
To be Black, disabled, and female means that you always have eyes on you. You must be “on” at all times; must be willing to “perform” for White, Black, & non-disabled Americas. You must be perfect and a good cripple, or be crucified at the cross, as we saw when Korryn’s story unfolded.
There were two matters in particular that struck me profoundly about the coverage surrounding Korryn’s fatal police incident: the way Black men discussed Korryn’s story on social media, and the Black community’s continued miseducation regarding disability.
#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.
We are at our boiling point in this country. The police violence that transpired within the last week set off a deep fire within all of us with the murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota. To see two Black men murdered during encounters with the police in such savage regards was sickening to watch and comprehend.
By now, many of you may have heard of the hashtag #DisabilityTooWhite. It was created last Wednesday on Twitter impromptu by me, and has gained a lot of support, resistance, and interest from those within and outside of the disability community. I have been interviewed by many pertaining to the hashtag, and felt that it was very much appropriate to discuss it on my blog, and to be very candid on how I felt about what has transpired in the past week.
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.
Spring is in the air, which means that we will be coming out of winter hibernation and seeking activities to mingle with old and new acquaintances. As a single Black disabled woman, I decided that this is the season where I begin my journey in finding viable candidates for the Mr. Right title.
Yes, I am going to dip my toes back into the dating pool, and I decided to share my experiences for a new series, “That’s the Way Love Rolls.” This series will highlight the good, bad, strange, and utterly humorous moments of my dating experience as a 30 year old disabled woman. I will also share the experiences of other disabled women, since I know my fellow disabled sisters have some very interesting tales regarding their own journeys in finding love.
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…
This year, I have written about growing up disabled and being of color, and how those dual identities have affected the opportunities and experiences I have had in my 30 years of life. On social media, I have seen disabled people of color share their stories about embracing their identities, and overcoming the internalized self-hate for who and what they are.
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.