The Disabled Experience

  1. The Black Body, Assisted Suicide, & the “Me Before You” Connection

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    Me Before You has been the main topic within the disability circles I am a part of for the past few weeks, and rightfully so.  The depiction of disability within the film, which spurred from the book under the same title, is disturbing; the main character decides that death is a better choice to make than to live with a disability.  The film is suppose to be a romantic tale, but I am hard-pressed to see anything related to romance within a story that has a twisted view and understanding about the disabled life, especially when the actual story was written by a non-disabled author, and the main character is played by a non-disabled actor.  

    Film depictions, and other media portrayals similar to Me Before You’s storyline, hones in on the gross disability tropes that adds to the stereotypes and misperceptions surrounding disability in our society rather than shine a light on what living with a disability actually is like for the largest minority group in the United States and globally.  Though I fully and steadfastly support my fellow advocates and allies in their protesting against Me Before You, I have remained silent on the film until now for a number of reasons; reasons that goes beyond the movie storyline.  This piece will take a closer look at the issues that stood out to me regarding what the debate is truly about – assisted suicide and disability representation – and the gaps I witness within media portrayals and the faces of the protesters against Me Before You.  Me Before You is just the “mouthpiece” that has provided the opportune moment for these matters to be discussed for me – that is more important than rehashing the sentiments my fellow advocates have written and uttered over the past few weeks.  

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  1. #DisabilityTooWhite: Making the “Good Trouble” in Advocacy

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    DisabilityTooWhite

    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.

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  1. “Wilhemina’s War:” Reaction to the PBS Documentary Depicting the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Rural SC

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    AIDS and HIV in cube

    Last Monday, PBS debuted the documentary “Wilhemina’s War,” a film that showcased the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS in lowcountry South Carolina.  Wilhemina Dixon is the caregiver of two family members living with HIV – her daughter Toni and granddaughter Dayshal.  The film revealed the struggles of accessing proper health care in the Palmetto state, due in part to the lack of funding and political supports that disadvantages and compromises the health statuses of those living with HIV/AIDS, particularly those in rural parts of the state.  

    Being someone who grew up during the 1990s when HIV/AIDS was widely discussed, and having interned at a non-profit organization that serves individuals living with HIV/AIDS, this was a film that instantly grabbed my attention, and I knew that I had to watch.  What took place over the 55:31 minutes the documentary aired unleashed a plethora of emotions within me – shock, anger, sadness, and pride.  I had never watched something so powerful and stark before in a very long time; I knew that this was a film that I had to share on the blog, and why it is dire to understand the healthcare plight of HIV/AIDS in South Carolina.  

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  1. Spotlighting Disabled Black Authors: Sophia Chester Debuts First Book, & Shares Her Plight As a Disabled Black Woman

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    For Black History Month, I decided to interview disabled Black author Sophia Chester.  You may remember Sophia’s name from last week’s post about disabled Black authors in literature.  Sophia is someone I met via Tumblr, and I stumbled upon her book, Cosmic Callisto Caprica & The Missing Rings Of Saturn, on my dashboard late last year.  Sophia was so excited that I “fangirled” about her book that I knew that I had to interview her for the RYV! blog.

    Sophia’s book is one of many I support because it has a strong Black female character lead, as well as disability representation within it.  In my eyes, Sophia knocked it out of the ballpark with the level of diversity that is present in her book.  I ardently believe in supporting disabled Black women who are trailblazing empowering paths, and Sophia fits that mold for me.  

    Sophia was gracious enough to take the time in allowing me to interview her for Black History Month, and to share HERstory with myself and my readers.  Her voice and body of work are greatly appreciated and needed, especially for those of us who aspire to become authors and writers.  

    Without further ado…

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  1. Disabled Black History: Shining A Light on Disabled Black Authors & Their Work

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    In continuing with the theme of Black History Month 2016 by shining a bright light on disabled Black authors, this week will focus on the literary works of disabled black trailblazers from the past and present, young and old.

    Searching for literature written by and/or share the stories of disabled Black people can be a needle in a haystack situation:  these bodies of work are not easily found, but when discovered, opens the door to voices and tales that may resonate deeply within the soul of the seeker.  Disability in literature is gravely underrepresented in general; when you add race into the mix, it gets even dimmer regarding visibility.  Spotlighting the diverse experiences within the disabled community is essential for us to fully understand various perspectives and ideas that broadens our view of the world and the people in it.  

    Compiling this list of disabled Black authors was an incredibly affirmative challenge because it displays the creativity and gumption these authors had in writing stories they felt were worthy of being written and read.  Their works are as diverse as them:  fiction, academia, memoirs, and self-help/advice.  For each author (listed in no particular order), provided are their disabilities, book title, book summary, and links to where you can buy and/or learn more about them.  

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  1. The Official Release of Doll Hospital Journal: Issue Two!

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    Cover design for Issue Two!

    As someone who is always looking for literature that shares the resounding truth about the disabled experience, I was elated to find a published body of work that was created by disabled people for disabled people.  Doll Hospital Journal (DHJ) is an intersectional art and print journal on mental health that was created by my dear friend Bethany Lamont.  Bethany wanted a mental health zine that would allow the voices of those who are marginalized to be heard.  Beth (as I call her) is one of the sweetest people I have met on my advocacy journey; her personality is infectious, and she is so caring and thoughtful.  I have enjoyed getting to know her this year, and be a part of this new issue of Doll Hospital Journal.  

    Issue Two was released digitally on Friday, December 4th, and I have been diving into it over the weekend.  I did not get a chance to read the first issue of DHJ, but if it is any bit of empowering, eye-opening, and beautifully curated as this one, then I definitely have to get my hands on a copy immediately.  

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  1. I Was Called the R-Word

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    “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

    This is a phrase we all hear as children when someone says something to us that is mean-spirited.  As we grow older, we realize that words DO hurt, and can pack a very powerful punch when used maliciously to dehumanize us.  

    Last month, I was called one of the most offensive words you could utter to a disabled person – the “R-word.”  I felt that it was a very poignant moment to discuss on the blog, and the impact the derogatory slur had on me, and how I view those who use such inferiority tactics.  

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  1. Being Disabled, Kinky, & Into BDSM: Disabled Little & Disabled Daddy Dom Speaks Out (Part 3)

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    The “Being Disabled, Kinky, & Into BDSM” mini series continues with the sharing of stories from a disabled Little, and a disabled Daddy Dominant (Daddy Dom).  Rachel* and Phil* shares insight into how one’s disabilities can affect their roles within the DD/lg relationship dynamic, as well as ways disabilities can prove to be a bonus to their sexual self-expression and satisfaction.  These two perspectives are important because both show that having a disability does not mean that one cannot express themselves sexually (as society tends to believe) or prevent them from being engaging in loving, healthy relationships.  Having a disability does not equate to being asexual or unlovable; and it is incredibly ableist and offensive to dismiss the importance of sexuality and worthiness of sexual expression simply due to disability status(es).  

    Without further ado, let’s read what our disabled BDSM’ers have to say.  

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  1. Being Disabled, Kinky, & Into BDSM: Disabled Littles Share Their Stories (Part 2)

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    For Part 2 of the “Being Disabled, Kinky, & Into BDSM” mini series, I wanted to take a look into the lives of disabled Littles.  To each person who expressed interest in sharing their story, I asked them to share about themselves, their disabilities, and how they got into the DD/lg [Daddy Dom/Little Girl] lifestyle.  If they were disabled Littles specifically, I asked how they felt about their disability possibly being a barrier or a plus in attracting and finding future Daddy Doms.  For some, the disability factor was something they considered in attracting a partner while for others it was not that huge of a barrier in relationships.

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