Posts Tagged 'wheelchair activism'

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)

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Barnum Officially Proclaimed Awesome

It’s official. Not only do I think Barnum is awesome, but so do Carin and Trixie at VomitComet and Brooke and Cessna at Ruled by Paws!

Awesome Blog Award

It's official. We're awesome.

[Image description: Square with black edges and a pale gray-striped interior. In the upper left, inside a hot pink rectangle, it says, “This blog has been given a…” Below that, on the regular background, it says, “Awesome Blog Award!” There is a horizontal straight-line ribbon graphic with the words “AWESOME” repeated over and over as form of wallpaper, with a black seal-of-approval on the lower right, inside which it says in hot-pink and white letters, “Nominated for being so damn Awesome.“]

It’s nice to get some recognition from your peers, isn’t it? Especially all the fabulous things that Carin said about After Gadget.

Barnum is already told on an almost hourly basis how wonderful he is by anyone in his presence, so I don’t think he thinks this is anything new. I, on the other hand, have been having a rough time, emotionally, lately, and will take all the ego-boosting I can!

To read who else is awesome and get some inside dirt on Trixie and Cessna, visit VomitComit’s Somebody Else Thinks We’re Awesome post and Ruled by Paws’ Awesome Blog Award post.

To accept this award, we have to reveal seven unknown fascinating tidbits about ourselves, and we have to choose 15 other blogs upon whom to bestow the honor.

I’m going to write the seven revelations about me, because you probably already know almost all there is to know about Barnum!

Sharon’s Secrets, Revealed!

1. I love to dance. Before I became disabled, I learned swing and ballroom, a little bit of modern, and whatever else I could. As a kid I took jazz and tap. I sucked at jazz and didn’t like it. I really liked tap, but none of the other girls did, and I had no self-esteem, so I didn’t pursue it because it wasn’t cool. Sigh. Once I was old enough (actually, thanks to a fake ID, well before I was old enough), I went out clubbing as often as I could. I even did some go-go dancing. After I got sick, I occasionally tried to do some wheelchair dancing for special events. Of all the things I miss about being able to move my body however I want, I miss dancing the most.

2. I was the graduation speaker for my class at my commencement at Tufts University. I won this honor by being awarded the Wendell Phillips Award, which is given to one student every year at both Tufts and Harvard University who display oratory skill and community leadership. The award is named after the abolitionist preacher. The president of the university tried to find a way to prevent me from speaking, because he was afraid of my scary radical militant lesbian ways. [Eye roll.] The irony is that, because he tried to silence me, I revealed his dirty deed in my remarks. I played Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” on a boom box at the end of the speech and got a standing ovation.

3. I have paradoxical reactions to many medications, including antihistamines and tranquilizers, such as Sudafed or Valium. Instead of making me sleepy, they make me shaky, anxious, sweaty, and wiiiiiiide awake.

4. I used to have a pet snake named Falstaff. She was a garter snake. She liked to curl up in my hair on the top of my head. She ate live goldfish for her meals. I discovered she hunted by smell when she twice bit my thumb after I’d poured the goldfish into her bowl. After that, I always washed my hands after touching the goldfish, and she never bit me again.

5. I am a total Harry Potter fanatic. When I am going through a hard time, I listen to the entire set of CDs over and over. I have most of the books memorized by now. I wish I didn’t feel so compelled to watch the movies, because they have messed up my previously well-established imaginings about exactly what each character looks and sounds like.

6. Some day, when I am well enough, I would like to foster and train hypoallergenic rescues as assistance dogs for other PWDs who have dog allergies and don’t have the fanatacism interest or ability to train their own assistance dogs. Or, even better, I’d like to work with people to train their dogs, themselves.

7. I  have several books in my head or on my computer that I hope to polish and publish eventually. They range from poetry for children, to a compilation of my Sick Humor essays, to an anthology of disability erotica, and more. I have ideas for three dog-related books, too.

I’m supposed to list fifteen other blogs I think are awesome. I’ve decided to include some non-blogs, as well, mostly youtube channels, because 15 is a lot, and I already passed on the One Lovely Blog Award to a bunch of blogs, previously.

I’m focusing my list on blogs and sites that are either new to me (and may have nothing to do with disability, dogs, or training) and/or blogs that are related to the themes of After Gadget. These are in no particular order.

1. Adoption Paradox. This is one of the blogs I stumbled across when dealing recently with “the unpleasantness,” and then I just happened to get sucked into it. Why? It’s extremely well-written and compelling, and if you are new to the issues adoptees face, and the social-justice implications of adoption, it will be an education.

2. Through a Guide’s Eyes. This is a relatively new blog by my long-time friend, Karyn. Karyn was my mentor when I started training Jersey, and over the years, we have both experienced great changes in our disabilities and lives (and have gone through the process of loss and training of successor dogs). Karyn’s posts are impressively frequent and packed with information. Almost everyone can learn something from Karyn’s perspective, as she is in the unique role being a handler/trainer of combo dogs who act as guide, hearing, and service dogs.

3. this ain’t livin’. This is the personal blog of writer s.e. smith (aka Meloukhia), one of the founders of my favorite blog ever, FWD/Forward. Meloukhia posts at least daily, on subjects ranging from pop culture (especially Glee!), class, feminism, book reviews, disability, food, and uh, lots of interesting stuff. It sort of  defies definition. If you don’t want to think, don’t read this blog, cuz you might be forced to think.

4. Remembering Niko. One of the loveliest people I met online due to Gadget’s lymphoma diagnosis is Bettina, who lost her (pet) dog Niko to canine lymphoma. Her site has terrific resources, support, and information on pet loss, including pages on anticipatory grief, what to expect from euthanasia, and common symptoms and signs of grief. I’m still working on my grief support pages, but if you are grieving a dog (or other animal), you will find much you can relate to at Remembering Niko. Reading the story of Bettina and Niko’s life together is also quite remarkable and touching.

5. & 6. BZ Training. This delightful blog is well-written, humorous, and has great photos. Kathleen is another Training Levels fanatic, so she writes a lot about the Levels, but even if you’re not interested in clicker training, golden retrievers, or dog photography, her writing is natural and compelling. She gets two slots, because her clicker videos, username, BZFischer, are outstanding! If you want to learn how to shape a training enthusiast, check out her youtubes. Yes, I am jealous of her. She’s so damn good.

7. & 8. Here’s another woman who’s so talented, she earns two slots. Her awesome blog, Vancouver Island Assistance Dogs has been on my blogroll since the beginning. VIAD teaches people with disabilities to train their own assistance dogs. It is an informational/instructional blog. Even better than the blog are Donna’s videos; find her on youtube as supernaturalbc2008. They are captioned, and some also have voice narration. She breaks things down into easy-to-understand steps and concepts. Some of the best clicker videos ever made are her “9 Habits of Highly Effective Clicker Trainers” series. She covers foundation behaviors, mobility assistance, hearing alert, diabetes alert, and more. (Again, totally jealous.)

9. The Angry Black Woman. This is actually a blog with three contributors (but don’t worry, they all identify as angry, black, and women), but I like ABW’s posts best. The blog’s subtitle is “Race, Politics, Gender, Sexuality, Anger,” and it does contain all of that, as well as a lot on speculative fiction (SF/F), writers/writing, and dealing with People Who Don’t Get It in a refreshingly straightforward, enjoyably angry manner. I came across ABW when I was looking for links I could put up for some commenters here who Didn’t Get It, and I felt all my knotted-up muscles relax when I started reading ABW, especially The BINGO Project and its comments.

10. Marge and her Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Terrific videos of the happiest-looking dogs you’ll ever see. Oh, and thy just happen to be rescues with awful pasts. Oh, and they just happen to be doing fabulous, often funny skills, like “Ridgeback Cleaning Service,” or holding a raw egg in their mouths, or sitting on their person’s head (on cue).

11. Eileen is another clicker trainer who has a lot to teach humans. She’s been very generous with her advice to me and posts here. Helpful, kindly, and humble, she has some great videos (included in my previous blog) on why dogs may fail to understand cues (commands) that you think they should. She also has Levels videos and various other good dog training fun stuff. Her youtube channel is eileenanddogs

12. Writer in a Wheelchair. I just discovered this British blogger thanks to the latest disability blog carnival. Disability rights activism, humor, culture, and general life-about-town as a person with a disability. Good politics, and informative for me about life with disability on the other side of the pond.

13. Ham Blog/Annaham. Annaham is another one of the founders of the blog formerly known as FWD/Forward. At its previous locale, Ham.Blog had the best subtitle, ever: “Ruining feminism, one pain pill at a time.” The new subtitle is “Promoting disability since 2008 or so.” It should be obvious that this blog includes humor, disability, and feminism. There are also various social justice themes, but mostly, lately, she’s doing cartoons, drawings, and other artwork, often related to chronic pain, but not necessarily. Another one that sort of defies description. What can I say? She’s good. I like her.

14. Wheelie catholic. This is a great blog that I often forget to read, and then, when I do, I think, “Yeah! OMG! I’m dealing with just that same thing!” It’s well-written, thoughtful, and real.

15. The Fibrochondriac. Another friend of the blog! (Hi, Kathy!) Kathy was on of the first bloggers I “met” online, and she helped me believe I could do this blogging thing. I’ll be honest, when I first saw the name of her blog, I thought two things: 1. “That’s witty and clever!” 2. “Uh-oh.” I mean, I knew she didn’t discount the reality of fibro or other chronic illnesses, but I didn’t know if her take on fibro would be some sort of falsely peppy, cheerleaderish sort of roses-and-sunshine blog (which seems to be popular among women blogging about chronic illness) that would downplay the realness of her illness. But no, her blog is very real and readable and fun. She’s got backbone! (Which probably aches.)

Whew! It took me a long time to put this together!

-Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum (SDiT with one actual service skill in place! Will try to video and post eventually!)


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