Disability solidarity means that we are all advancing intersectional justice - that Disabled folks are working hard to achieve racial justice, economic justice, gender justice; and Black folks are holding ourselves accountable for disability justice, immigrant justice, indigenous justice, etc. Disability solidarity means the folks fighting for racial justice and disability justice are one and the same. In this way, no one is left behind.
Disability solidarity encapsulates the lived experience of Emmett Till and millions of Disabled youth of color living at the intersection he once occupied. These are the youth who continue to be profiled, criminalized, and killed for existing. They deserve to have their whole humanity affirmed. Disability solidarity saves lives and makes room for laughter, love and freedom at an intersection that does not have to continue to be the most dangerous intersection that we’ve ever held.
Disabled people already have to give up our privacy just to access basic services, support, and accommodations. We have to deal with consistent, lingering beliefs about fraud and deceit that lead to implementation of policies like Electronic Visit Verification, which subjects disabled people receiving publicly funded support to increased scrutiny.
This is forced intimacy. It’s the opposite of inclusion, and it is exhausting.
So intertwined are these oppressions that any attempt to rid the nation of racism without doing away with ableism yields practically nothing. The same is true in reverse. Disabled communities attempting to rid the nation of ableism find themselves having made very little headway because they are still practicing racism.
There’s a lot of inspiration porn going around in response to Chadwick Boseman’s death. This primer collects writing from disabled people on inspiration porn and “supercrip” narratives:
Selections on kindness from “Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body”:
I am a magnet for kindness. Like the center of a black hole, my body attracts every good deed from across the expanse of the universe to the foot of my wheelchair. I move through parking lots and malls, farmers’ markets and airports, bookstores and buffets, and people scramble to my aid. They open doors and reach out their arms to help, they offer prayers, grab my handlebars for a push, watch over me, and hold out wads of cash.
Okay, so not every single person who comes within my orbit suddenly sprints to my service. There are plenty of people who don’t seem to notice me, and some people who are actually repelled by my magnet. They look down, pull their bag or their child closer to them, draw their legs up to their chest as I roll by. (Yeah, it doesn’t feel great.) But it’s the abundance of kindness that gets me all tangled. It’s the fly that won’t stop buzzing, won’t hold still long enough for me to swat it, won’t die.
It’s harmless, really. What damage can a tiny fly do? But then why do I feel like tearing down the house every time I hear its familiar buzz? And here’s the real nasty cherry on top of the fly: more than any other subject I write about, people do not like what I have to say about the complications of kindness. Because how could kindness be anything but good? What do I possibly want from the people if not kindness? And really, what kind of ungrateful hag must I be to complain about people trying to do nice things for me??? I’ve talked enough with folks to know—this conversation is uncomfortably disruptive.
As a culture, Americans are pretty well convinced that disability is something they’ve figured out. In fact, this was a puzzle solved years ago. How could ableism exist when we’ve memorized the rules? Don’t say the R-word; don’t make fun; disability doesn’t define anyone; just try to be helpful; and the rule that guides them all: Be kind. I’ve seen so many people perform these creeds in one form or another.
Like the folks who try to do me a favor by keeping me separate from this disabled body of mine: All I see when I look at you is a beautiful woman. I don’t even notice your wheelchair! I don’t think of you as disabled. It’s meant as a kindness, but it feels like erasure. These words handpicked to soothe the wounds of disability are weapons themselves, reinforcing the deep-seated belief that beauty and value can’t coexist with the deviations we all know I embody.
I think I understand how it happens: If you live in a community where disability is framed as tragic, sad, and inferior, then claiming not to see that so-called defect feels like a favor. We try to extract the disability from the person, because we think disability is ugly, and the rules tell us that this separation is nice. But do we attempt to extract thinness, Ivy League education, or wealth from a person? Of course not. We see these characteristics as inherently positive. Maybe individuals hold on to these features as part of their identity, maybe they don’t, but as a culture, we don’t take it upon ourselves to graciously inform people that we see past their fit bodies, fancy diplomas, and piles of cash. There is no urgency to ignore thinness, no discomfort in recognizing education, no knee-jerk desire to erase wealth. Deep within our cultural understanding of what it means to be a human with a body, we position disability below ability and at odds with health, beauty, wholeness, success, and happiness. But I don’t need my paralyzed legs to be erased in order for me to be seen as able, healthy, beautiful, whole, successful, or happy.
Time and time again, people in my life and readers of my work become uncomfortable with, ruffled by, and hostile to the stories I share about sitting on the receiving end of “kindness.” Maybe it’s because so many of us claim “kindness” as one of the most important qualities a human can possess. Disrupting our understanding of kindness is a direct threat to our sense of self and understanding of the world around us. But as a veteran Kindness Magnet, I’ve found people’s attempts to Be Kind can be anything from healing to humiliating, helpful to traumatic. It’s complicated.
Selections from “Thriving at Work While Autistic, Introverted, Shy, and Otherwise Different: Part 3” on intersectionality, equality, equity, and autism at work:
Abundantly confident people who are energized by competition and enjoy a bit of a fight (typically men, extroverts, and those without conditions associated with higher physiological reaction to stress) may feel that all others should be happy to play by their rules. And if some are not, then these others are flawed, and perhaps even inferior.
Equality is not equity. The most well-intentioned mono-focus equality programs, such as gender-based, assume homogeneity within the group – but groups are not homogeneous, and the most privileged in the group benefit the most. White women benefit more than women of color. Affluent women benefit more than poor women. Those without disabilities benefit more than those with disabilities.
When the system is blind to intersectionality, those with multiple intersectional backgrounds get squashed by that seemingly unbiased system.
And the most insidious thing about systemic discrimination is the built-in gaslighting mechanism.
The system makes you think it’s your fault.
Except, autism is not a problem. It’s a solution. When there are too many variables to solve for, it makes sense to solve for the infinity – the symbol of both the infinite number of possible intersectionalities and autism acceptance.
There is rarely a need for special mechanisms for each intersectional identity. The same practices that would allow my autistic self thrive would allow every other aspect of me to thrive. Transparency, psychological safety, consideration of human differences in legitimate options for work organization, scientifically-developed job descriptions, the inclusion of a wider variety of voices – the same practices would make work better for all people. The same practices will make organizations more productive. When there are too many variables to solve for, solve for the infinity – for the infinite number of all possible intersectionalities, by embedding foundational principles of justice for all into systems and processes.
Some special interests are short lived, and some last the lifetime of the person; but, however long they last, they are intense, delightful, and a vital part of autistic culture.
…synchronous teaching should be the ketchup and asynchronous the burger.
…forcing students to turn on their cameras is a really bad idea from a trauma-awareness and equity perspective.
Source: Making Shapes in Zoom
In distributed work cultures, asyncronous is the burger.
Queer and feminist punk is my pre-election mood.
On the Edge of Gone is an engaging page turner with great autism rep.