Disability & Occupy: Disability Blog Carnival #79

Disability Blog Carnival badge by Ryn, featuring a black-and-white photograph of a man and a boy. The man is in uniform and holding crutches; he is apparently an amputee; the boy is holding onto one of the crutches as a child might hold an adult's hand; the two are photographed from behind, and we see beyond them a seashore and a suspension.bridge

The Disability Blog Carnival Badge

I’m delighted to be hosting the seventy-ninth Disability Blog Carnival. I chose the theme of Occupy (as in Occupy Wall Street/#ows) for this edition. I have to say that I’m proud of this post. It makes it abundantly clear what we have to teach each other and ourselves, and what we have to learn.

I posed a lot of questions for people to respond to for this carnival. However, the majority of the posts in this edition were written before my call for entries, indicating that Occupy is on the minds of many who blog about disability already.

Black and white picture of a middle-aged white woman with short dirty-blond hair. She is wearing a white, sleeveless shirt and holding up a sign that says, "I have a Master's Degree, Systemic Lupus, Two Kids Entering College in Fall, and Less than $20 to my Name. I am the 99%.

One of the pictures from the Facebook photo album, "Faces of the 99%"

Occupy Activists with Disabilities

I enjoyed a great deal reading posts by people with disabilities who found joy, meaning, liberation, or other empowerment by participating in Occupy activism.

I thought it would be appropriate to start the carnival off with a post by Penny at the Temple University Disability Studies blog — the home of the disability blog carnival! — has a blog post up called Disabled and Proud at Occupy Oakland. It is mostly a short Youtube video of the General Strike called by Occupy Oakland, and it includes people with disabilities who are activists there. Penny has transcribed the portion of the video where the people with disabilities are being interviewed.

Rocking (and Flapping) at a 1000 Revolutions a Minute is definitely one of my favorite posts on disability and Occupy. It is a must read! This incredibly powerful, liberating post by Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone of Cracked Mirror in Shalott includes a captioned video Savannah took of herself at an Occupy DC event, off by herself, rocking, and how doing that contradicts the harmful messages she’s been subject to based on others’ responses to her being an Autistic:

The week before I sat in the park and rocked, feeling my defiance, I spent several nights wishing I didn’t exist. I knew all the things I talk about here intellectually, but that base part of me is still filled with the remembered abuse of my past. The most prevalent are those that were excused at the time as treatment while speaking words describing me as a burden and my being as a barrier.

Denise Romano spoke at the #OccupyWashingtonSquare Park General Assembly, addressing worker’s rights, in which she included the rights of people with disabilities. As someone with an intermittent speech disability, I was excited to read Denise’s opening sentence to the GA where she essentially tells them to ignore her speech disability and then goes on to deliver a comprehensive, kick-ass labor rights teach-in. The text of her speech is up at her blog, Workplace Credible Activist, in the post, Occupy Your Workplace (scroll down to where it says “My name is Denise Romano” to read the speech).

When we demand zero harassment
we must not engage in harassment

When we demand zero discrimination
we must not engage in discrimination

When we demand zero retaliation
we must not engage in retaliation….

Connections and Intersections

In her post, Decolonizing Our Voices, Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone of Cracked Mirror in Shalott describes the parallels she sees between the 99 percent movement and her activism against oppression of Autistics. In fact, she published this post on Autistics Speaking Day, an annual event to counteract the messages of pity and misinformation coming from certain autism organizations (which are run by non-Autistics).

After some thought, I’ve decided that there’s too much of a cross over for me in the work of Decolonizing Wall Street and of our voices as Autistics to not write this post today. While people in general are seeing their demands of their political representatives co-opted or diverted by corporations, Autistics routinely have our voices co-opted by our allies and diverted by large ‘non’-profits such as Autism Speaks.

In her post, Why I write… yes, fibromyalgia and Occupy in the same post, Kathy of The Fibrochondriac admits that blogging just didn’t feel fulfilling for her, didn’t give her a sense of purpose, when she was focused on fibromyalgia information and resources:

Then purpose found me… I started looking for things to talk about with John (domestic partner/husband). And I found a lot of things I didn’t like about how our government worked. Then I started meeting people who are just as concerned as I am. And it felt good to get out and listen to what they had to say. Yeah, Occupy. Again.

Lynette, who blogs at The World As I See It, My Life As It Happens, takes us on a journey of her initial lack of interest in Occupy Halifax to a ripening consciousness of what the movement could become and the role of disabled activists within it. In her post, Occupy your Heart, Occupy Your Mind, Occupy Your World, she begins her discussion of the role and burden of the disabled activist in this way:

But if I stepped back and did not get involved, i could not expect anyone in the occupy movement to represent my interests as a disabled woman. A homeless addict or a third-year college student who has never met a blind person isn’t likely to understand how society should change to include me and others like me. If I don’t make my voice heard, then I can’t expect the movement to recognize my needs.

Deciding Against Occupy

Like Lynette, Brooke at Ruled by Paws started out leaning in one direction and ended up in the other. Whereas Lynette started out skeptical and ended up being drawn in by the movement, Brooke initially thought the movement had appealing ideas, but upon reflecting on what a successful Occupy movement would mean, she has decided she is not in favor of it. In The Occupy Movement, she starts out her ponderings with questions:

I have found myself more and more skeptical of its effectiveness and continue to wonder if the ‘99%’ includes people like myself. If the Movement were successful, would I benefit? Would the world become more accepting and accommodating of people with disabilities? Or would we be pushed aside, and left to fend for ourselves in an even more undemocratic and economically unbalanced society.

Exclusion and Alienation

Even among pro-Occupy activists, the relationship between Occupy and disability rights is not all shiny-happy-people-holding-hands! Some who have participated — or tried to participate and been thwarted — in Occupy activities have met with ableism.

One of the most powerful posts I’ve read about Occupy and disability — and which has been much discussed and ranted about in the disability activist community — details the infuriating, heart-wrenching, and all-to-familiar experience of Big Noise in her post, Who Are My Brothers and Sisters in the Struggle for Justice? So many amazingly appalling things take place, I couldn’t decide what aspect to tease: That the organizers picked a meeting space up three flights of stairs? That they booed the blogger’s allies when they raised access concerns? That they used sexist comments to try to shut up her husband? That try tried to turn things back around on her and give her a sob story? If you are an Occupy activist who is not familiar with disability access issues, you seriously need to read this post!

Noah’s post, Dear Ableist Assholes in Occupy Seattle, gets right to the point in his first two sentences: “I am a wheelchair user who took part in the December 12th West coast Port shutdown. I want to say fuck you to all the people who belittled me and talk down to me while I was out there.” Along with his link for the carnival, Noah provided some interesting information about how the post was received and why it’s at Our American Generation:

This is an open letter I posted in the Occupy Seattle Facebook. It has since been removed from the group page because of the controversy it started. The comments it received were very harsh and offensive to many people. The letter was a response to the way I along with my friends were being treated. The harsh language was used on purpose to show that people with disabilities are not submissive and to question how people view myself.

Anonymous, posting at Occupy at Home (#OAH), urges members of the movement to become aware of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) access, as well as to make the connection between the 99 percent movement, MCS, and corporate interests. To the Other 99%: Dump the Corporate Toxins & Let Us Join You! Anonymous declares:

We see how corporations have been making, marketing, and selling everyday products with cheap, unnecessary, harmful, toxic ingredients derived from fossil fuels, while they claim these pollutants are safe. We see their efforts at blocking legislation to ban toxic ingredients and preventing warnings to consumers to keep their cell phones at least an inch away from their bodies at all times and to keep them off when not in use.

Educating Occupies about Disability and Access Issues

Some bloggers are addressing nondisabled members of the 99 percent in an attempt to raise disability rights consciousness and provide disability access education.

One of my favorite efforts in this area is by Occupy On Wheels: Awareness, Inclusion, Solidarity. OOW is actually a group with a Facebook page, not a blog, but they created an incredibly spiffy video that I’m considering a vlog and posting it here. It is a funny, easy-to-understand, and very engaging 17-minute video about wheelchair access: What makes a location wheelchair accessible or not, why camping out is not powerchair accessible, how to find accessible locations, etc. It is close captioned and narrated. A transcript of the video is here on Facebook or here at the Occupy at Home blog. I’ll edit this post to put in the link to the transcript when it’s ready.

OOW also has many excellent articles, including, “Tips: Is your GA meeting accessible?” “Protest Signs & Alternative Ways to Show Your Solidarity,” and “Mini Occupies: A Day-Time Alternative to Camping Out.”

The reason I’m happy that I’m a day late in publishing this carnival is that it allows me to include this just-posted link on a really crucial issue for the Occupy movement. At Pushing Limits, the blog of the KPFA radio show by the same name, Adrienne Lauby introduces the topic for her next show, Mental Disability Within Occupy. The show airs tomorrow, Friday, and will feature three guests:

Herbert Darren spent a month at the Occupy L.A. encampment. David Parks and Eve are heavily involved in Occupy Santa Rosa. All three live with mental disabilities. All are (or have been) homeless.
The stereotyping of people living with mental disabilities and homeless people during the Occupy encampments could have set our mutual liberation back for decades.  If it doesn’t, it will be due to a radically different story from those who came to the Occupy camps to protest and meet each other face to face.

My entry for this carnival is Corporate Control of People with Disabilities, which I posted at Occupy at Home (#OccupyatHome). I’ve been very pleased with the reception this post has gotten so far; the comments section is like reading a second post on the topic!

If you do not have a disability, it probably does not occur to you that you need permission from someone in authority to take a bus, to read a book, to go to the bathroom, to talk on the phone, to leave your house, to enter a public space. Corporate control over our lives in conjunction with government authority is not a shocking new concept; it is what we are used to. In fact, for some of us, it literally comes down to needing a doctor’s approval to take a shit.

An earlier post of mine, also at Occupy at Home (#OAH), is Occupiers: How Do/Will You Represent Me?

I frequently hear people say, “I, a person at an encampment, represent many people who aren’t here.” I appreciate the recognition that there are many of us who want to be there, but cannot. As someone whose disability causes me to be isolated and invisible to a great extent (partly due to the disabilities, themselves, and partly due to structural/societal ableism), it’s very important to me to be “counted.” For the same reason, I often feel uncomfortable when I hear that someone is representing me. I wonder how much these other occupiers really are representing my interests. Do they know what it’s like to live in a society where they are considered by many to be disposable — where, when someone with a disability is killed by their parent or caretaker, it’s considered justifiable, a mercy killing? Where their lives are viewed as a tragedy or a “human interest story” of inspiration?

Other Posts Pertaining to Disability and Occupy

I’m running out of time, space, and energy, so here are more links, all from Occupy at Home (#oah), which hopefully speak for themselves!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed links for this blog carnival. Thank YOU for reading this. Please go to the posts, read, be enlightened, and give the bloggers some love in the comments section.

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SDiT (currently occupying his crate)

21 Responses to “Disability & Occupy: Disability Blog Carnival #79”


  1. 1 noah December 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    This is great! It is nice to have a comprehensive write up.
    I want to add that there has been positive disability experiences within Decolonize/ Occupy Seattle. For example the March on December 12Th. was over 4 miles and people fundraised to get a accesible bus to drive people with mobility impairments.

    • 2 Sharon December 29, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      Noah, thank you very much for your comment. It’s good to know you appreciate the write-up.
      I’m very glad to hear you are making some progress with disability access with Seattle activists.

  2. 3 Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone December 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Hey! exciting!

    One thing though- the Autistic Rights Movement uses the noun “Autistics” (capitalized) instead of the person first model. Part of it is that a number of the Autistics involved survived having abusive measures taken in the name of “treatment” to separate us from obvious signs of our disability, including our own self calming and self stimulating behavior.

    My Friend Lydia recently wrote an excellent post about the issue, if I may:

    http://autistichoya.blogspot.com/2011/12/people-first-create-environment-of.html

    And of course, there’s Jim Sinclair, who has written some of the founding Autistic Rights essays. (I don’t think enough people know how much Xir work has contributed to the budding Autistic Culture.):

    http://www.cafemom.com/journals/read/436505/

    Just FYI! :) :) :)

    • 4 Sharon December 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      OK, good to know. Thank you for the info and providing the background and where it’s coming from. I thought I’d followed the way you wrote, but obviously not, so I’ll go back and proof. Honestly I was surprised to keep seeing “Autistics” in your posts because I got lambasted for writing “autistic” once, instead of “person with autism.” Later, I had a friend w/diabetes who hated when people said “diabetICS.” She would say, “Ic(k)s! Ic(k)s! We have ‘ick!'” You know?
      So, I will go back and check the wording. As for capitalizing, I will do as you ask, though I’ll have to jump over an emotional hurdle first because even though I now understand this is an intentional decision, with thought behind it, as part of a unified movement, it rubs me the wrong way because (and now, the rant)….
      As a professional writer/editor/proofreader, I personally hate the overcapitalization that seems to be overtaking internet-speak. It seems that people believe that any word that is important must be capitalized (or, Any Word that is Important MUST be Capitalized!!), that there is confusion over what is a proper noun and what isn’t. (e.g., that breeds of dogs are not capitalized unless the name contains a proper noun — Labrador retriever, German shepherd dog, golden retriever, bouver des Flandres, etc., not Golden Retriever or Bouvier des Flandres, etc., — or that diseases and disabilities are capitalized, when they should not be except in the case of derivation of proper noun — chronic fatigue syndrome [not Chronic Fatigue Syndrome], Down syndrome [not Down's Syndrome], Lyme disease [not Lyme's Disease]) Blah blah blah.
      But I get it. That’s not what you’re doing. People in my own communities (MCS, CFIDS/ME, Lyme) do the capitalization of our disease names, in large part, I think, because we are used to being dismissed and treated as if our conditions are not real. I think there’s something about capitalizing that people feel adds legitimacy. But, for me, no. To me, it gives the opposite effect. I’m a proof reader. To me, it feels like, “Ick!”
      OK, I’m done. Will go tweak post now.
      P.S. Thank you for the links. I’m all linked out. I am so beyond the beyond of exhausted. Once I finish eating and making these changes, I plan to sleep as long as I possibly can, and then longer. But when I get some spoons, I will try to check them out.

      • 5 Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone December 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm

        Thanks!

        Honestly, even Autistics get crap for choosing our own language. Mainly from parent’s groups actually. Parents tend to dominate the autism advo movement- which is another reason for being “Autistic” rather than person with autism. So many blogs say something about “living with autism” actually mean that the writer is a parent or other family member.

        But I believe that we get to chose our own language. A friend of mine uses “bad brains.” But most of us Autistics use identity first language.

        I’m sorry if I randomly capitalize- it’s been an issue since I first learned to type. Something just skips a step when a word is important I think.

      • 6 Sharon December 31, 2011 at 4:44 am

        Hi Savannah,

        I’m regretting that I responded to your comment when I was so exhausted, grouchy, and not able to think very well.

        I absolutely agree with this: “But I believe that we get to chose our own language.”
        This is an important part of marginalized people defining our own realities and asserting our personhood. Reclaiming language can be very powerful.

        I thought this was interesting: “A friend of mine uses “bad brains.” But most of us Autistics use identity first language.” Because I use a whole variety of ways to try to describe my cognitive/brain issues, depending on who I’m talking to and what I think they’ll “get” and what aspect(s) of my neurological issue is relevant. I’ve used “brainal,” “cog dys,” “brain fog/foggy,” “impaired,” and just about everything else. These days I mostly just say I have “brain damage,” because it’s true and it covers so many of my different forms of neuro damage/dysfunction. However, when people hear “brain damage,” they often assume I mean, “Traumatic brain injury,” which I don’t. (My brain damage is partly caused by poisoning — such as carbon monoxide — and partly infectious — caused by tick-borne disease — and partly mystery combo-platter, caused by CFIDS/ME.)

        I used to call myself “neurologically quirky,” but I think that now undersells the severity of the issue. Plus, now that people are using the term “neurotypical,” I don’t want people to think I’m saying I’m on the autism spectrum (are you OK with that wording? Or would you prefer I write “on the Austistics spectrum”?). Do you know if there is a term that means one who is not on the spectrum but who still has neurological irregularities?

        Also, I really want to address this. You said, “I’m sorry if I randomly capitalize- it’s been an issue since I first learned to type. Something just skips a step when a word is important I think.” Please, please don’t feel the need to apologize. It is absolutely your right to write any way you want, and I don’t want you to feel anxious or like you’re walking on eggshells if you post or comment here. I so much value what you have to say and how you say it! It hadn’t even occurred to me — I hadn’t even noticed what you capitalized or not — when I wrote my comment. I was only trying to express my feelings about an issue that frustrates me but is really not relevant to this post or discussion. I wish I had just turned off my computer and returned to your comment when I wasn’t so triggery. I absolutely was not trying to give the message that anyone, you included, is “bad” or “wrong” for your typing choices. So, I do not accept your apology! :-)

        I’m wondering how you feel about what I’ve said here?

      • 7 Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone January 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm

        “I used to call myself “neurologically quirky,” but I think that now undersells the severity of the issue. Plus, now that people are using the term “neurotypical,” I don’t want people to think I’m saying I’m on the autism spectrum (are you OK with that wording? Or would you prefer I write “on the Austistics spectrum”?). Do you know if there is a term that means one who is not on the spectrum but who still has neurological irregularities?”

        Honestly, I’d say you’re neuroatypical. . . Certain segments of the community have realized that Neurodiversity is such a larger movement than just autism. Neuroatypical folks include people with brain damage (traumatic or otherwise), people with Schizophrenia, people with bipolar, and a wide range whose neurology isn’t typical. A certain segment of the Autistic community- myself included when I’m in certain environments, especially tumblr- use the term “allistic” to describe non-autistic people, as looking at etymology allistic is the opposite of what Kanner was expressing- inaccurately, it turns out- when he called us “Autistic”. (The Aut is actually from “auto-” reflecting an appearent absorption with something within our selves. All in “allistic” is from “allo-” meaning other- an attempt to say that your attention seems drawn to others to us.)

        There’s a blog parodying Autism $peaks called “AllismSpeaks” which is amusing. I recommend reading the about first, though. http://allismspeaks.tumblr.com/

        There has been some objections to allistic that I think are wonderfully rebutted here: http://mycroftlongingaftercakes.tumblr.com/post/12574258947/anchiton-oladabas-why-ill-never-use-the-word

        The earliest source for allistic that I’ve found is this parody from 2003- it’s long, so if you want to get to the explanation of WTF is going on, scroll to the bottom where the “postscript” is: http://www.fysh.org/~zefram/allism/allism_intro.txt

        The first time *I* personally heard it was in a tumblr social Justice circle of friends- primarily Autistics- who either 1) had co-occuring MHDs or 2) had friends or loved ones who *weren’t* Autistic, but who had MHDs. Recognizing that applying “neurotypical” to non-autistics who were neurologically atypical was not logical and thus not fair, we went seeking for another word. We settled on allistic.

        It hasn’t been widely used yet, unfortunately, but it is growing. I guess if you choose to adopt “allistic neuroatypical” as your descriptors, you may wish to link allistic to a definition. Also, your capitalization is up to you of course in this- I normally capitalize it as “Allistic” but I didn’t want to make it seem like you had to if you adopted it.

        I hope this helps. sorry for the massive comment- you *did* ask an Autistic remember!

        Additionally, I’m currently dealing with pneumonia, and still have a low grade fever so I keep having what I’m calling “simple dog” (After the character from “hyperbole and a half”‘s “view” of her experiences) states as that is as close to describing them as I can get mixed in with states of my own normal.

  3. 8 Penny December 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Well done, thanks! And I’ll second Noah, it’s good to have a bunch of these links gathered together. This combination of topics appears in so many different contexts, it’s easy for individual stories and points of view to get lost or minimized; read in a collection here, I hope they all get more attention, and build a bigger story together.

    I’ll get the announcement post up on DSTU later today–and if anyone’s looking to host an edition of the carnival in 2012, I’ll be taking volunteers over there too.

  4. 9 Brooke, Cessna, Aspen, Canyon & Rogue December 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Hi Sharon, I had written a post for this, but forgot to post it before I went away. Can I still do this? If so, please send me an e-mail and I’ll give you the info once I’ve posted it.

  5. 11 scottydavis89 December 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Thank you for this write up!

  6. 15 kassie January 2, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Hi, could you add my post to the #79 Carnival? You did a great job adding a really personal touch and theme this month.Good work.
    Post to add:
    Kassie Love
    Occupy the Streets: Judge Rules NYC Taxis Violate ADA Laws
    http://www.labelosophy.com/2011/12/30/judge-rules-nyc-taxis-violate-ada-laws/

    • 16 Sharon January 2, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Kassie,
      I’m so sorry! I don’t know why I didn’t see this comment sooner! I just found several of them I didn’t know existed. I will try to incorporate your post as soon as I’m able. Thanks very much for sending me the link.

    • 17 Sharon January 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Kassie,
      I just went and read this article. I didn’t see anything about Occupy in it. For example, the title you gave here starts with “Occupy the Streets,” but those words are not in the article you linked to. I think I’m going to stop taking new links for this post, because it’s a lot of work, and I need to move on.
      However, if you would like to write a post about this or any other issue relating to Occupy (including issues that are recognized as part of the Occupy movement, as well as other issues that you think should be focused on but that have not been) I would welcome a post about it at Occupy at Home.

  7. 18 Sharon January 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Hey Savannah,

    I’m learning a lot from you!

    Actually, soon after I asked you that question, I came across the definition of “allistic” on another blog (Flutterfly tumblr). It’s helpful to know this term.

    I loved Allism Speaks. I thought it was very funny. I also have now self-diagnosed myself, based on that info, as being severely allistic. Fortunately, I have support from several allistic friends.

    It reminded me of an article I used to have which was a FAQ about sighted people — how sighted people get around, how they are able to work, etc. I’m thinking I want to write one about “the chemically hyposensitive,” as that is a serious condition that is just not getting the attention it deserves!

    I got an error when I tried to access the tumblr rebutting objections to allistic, don’t know if the link is broken or something.

    I’m sorry you’ve been so ill with pneumonia; that sounds really miserable. I saw on FB that you went to the hospital in an ambulance. I hope you continue to get better, and please don’t feel obliged to reply to this if you need to be resting instead.

    • 19 Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone January 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      ~Masochist~

      I’m thinking maybe it was pulled or something- the argument from the people objecting to allistic was short sighted (“we already have neurotypical, what do you need allistic for?”) and petty, and ignored how the word construction was both mirroring and poking fun at the fact that Kanner thought Autistics were self-focused. Too bad, I thought the rebuttal I linked was brilliant. Oh well. Tumblr. (Or maybe tumblr was down, it does that a lot.)

      I like the idea! Chemically hyposensitive! ha ha ha. . . My sensitivity is wrapped up in my being Autistic (lots of smells and chemicals make me freak and feel sick) and a bit to do with how they drugged me in my pre- and early teen years. Not as sensitive as you and a lot of others, but I’ll still mega enjoy seeing the thing on hyposensitive people.


  1. 1 Corporate Control of People with Disabilities | #Occupy at Home Trackback on December 29, 2011 at 10:10 pm
  2. 2 Disability Studies, Temple U.: Disability Blog Carnival #79 is up NOW! | The Disabilities Issues Site Trackback on January 1, 2012 at 7:03 am
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