Queen Jade is a deaf Jamaican American Black woman and independent filmmaker who needs funding for an incredible film called The Shattered Mind. According to her Kickstarter site:

The film is centered upon a proud Black Deaf family with a captivating story that has never been told before in the mainstream film industry. The Shattered Mind is a 40-minute short film that explores a black deaf family’s journey while their daughter, Zhane Rain struggles to overcome adversity; traumatic childhood past and hearing loss. Zhane Rain is a misplaced teenager who is trying to find herself in a self-respecting Deaf family and to overcoming unusual psychological and neurological conditions. Ultimately, her biggest battle is in dealing with recurring nightmares due to amnesia from the traumatic experience she had as a child. 

She’s right. I’ve not even encountered a synopsis like this for a film. I’m all about supporting new to the screen stories, nuanced stories about Blackness, especially about Black women and Black families.

Her deadline is January 14, 2014 and that is in only 9 days! She needs only $470.00 more as her goal is $2,500.00 and she has $2,030.00 as of this post. Please support if you can! There’s pledge amounts as low as $1.00, $10.00 and $25.00 for those of us without much money but still want to chip in.

Please support via pledge or at least signal boost!

anonymous said:

So you've seen the post about Aerie not retouching their models right? Is it won't if me to not be satisfied with that because all the models are relatively the same size?

A couple of years ago, bare escentuals did a blind casting call in which models were chosen for the ads based on their answers to a bunch of questions. But here’s the thing: they were still models. It wasn’t about “inner beauty”, because they knew they were guaranteed to get conventionally attractive people no matter what. But they touted themselves as being pro-woman and all about being beautiful on the inside, because they know that pretending to be supportive when they actually rely on lowering self-esteem to peddle their products sells. It’s a gimmick to them, nothing more. It’s much the same with this Aerie thing. So the models’ photos aren’t retouched, but they are still models and Aerie will still rely on makeup and lighting and certain slimming angles to make damn sure we know that look is still unattainable for most of us, especially if we’re not cis, thin, able-bodied and White.

I don’t blame you at all for being annoyed. I am tired of our tools for feeling good about ourselves being stolen and used against us.

- Mod D.

The Amazing Atheist's "Handicap Spaces Suck" video transcript

Here’s an issue that not a whole lot of people side with me on: handicap parking spaces. I don’t agree with them. I say get rid of handicap parking spaces.

[Mocking, high pitched voice]
Oh my god, you’re a monster! Handicap spaces are so wonderful, they’re the best idea ever!

No, they’re not. They’re stupid, they’re horrible and they’re pointless and there’s no reason for them to exist, and I will prove it to you with my usual sterling, flawless, ironclad logic, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen!

Here we are at a parking lot of a mall. Here’s a handicap spot, and here’s the mall. Let me ask you a question: if you’re incapable of navigating this parking lot, then what business do you have walking around a mall? And if you’re incapable of walking, if you got a wheelchair or something like that, well I’m assuming that wheelchair works just as good out in the parking lot as it does in the mall.

So how is it that you’re perfectly capable of going through the big old mall, but you can’t go through the little old parking lot? It doesn’t make sense!

Read More

Check Your Able-Bodied Privilege

Several months ago I was at a library reading quietly to myself. I saw a middle-aged White man in a motorized wheelchair trying to remove a chair from a table so that he could scoot himself in and use a computer, but the chair seemed practically stuck to the rug (the feet of the chair to the carpet) so it was taking him longer to do so versus an able-bodied person. Like a complete fucking idiot, I went over to help him by starting to move the desk chair out of his way (though I did not and would NEVER touch his actual wheelchair). Did he ask for my help? No.

He calmly said to me, "I got it, thank you." As soon as he said that, I realized what I had done. I felt truly awful and ashamed of myself. I apologized and he knowingly smiled, as if he realized what I realized about myself.

Other able-bodied people have admitted to me that they’ve done the same. Why do able-bodied people do this? Not thinking. Assuming that the world will end if it takes one person 2 or 3 minutes to move a chair versus 10 seconds is ridiculous. It also is about an able-bodied person feeling discomfort with seeing a person having a more time-consuming experience doing something that we take for granted because of able-bodied privilege. Further, it comes from a place of presumed superiority. Being in a place of privilege at any intersection means that the status quo aligns with your experiences, not the oppressed’s experiences. Not only does it align, every morsel of culture continues to subtly and overtly imply the superiority of the person with privilege over the oppressed person. White privilege and racism. Male privilege and sexism. Heterosexual privilege and homophobia. Cis privilege and transphobia. Thin privilege and fatphobia. Class privilege and classism/poverty. Able-bodied privilege and ableism. The list goes on. This is why consistent checking and deconstruction is necessary. This is why womanist/feminist thinking is a journey; no one reaches “perfection” where they no longer make mistakes, but accountability for those mistakes is CRITICAL. Back-peddling, denial and other nonsense is unacceptable.

People with disabilities face a variety of things from microaggressions to discrimination to oppression. Even if I did not engage in overt ableism and shaming of disabilities, my benevolent ableism—assuming I was being “nice” by placing his disability in the forefront and trying to play hero, versus recognizing his own agency—contributed to the problem of ableism in our society, and it’s something that I definitely never want to do. I truly wish re-realizing this did not have to come at the expense of another human being as to why I apologized, but I am definitely working to do better.

Related Post: On The Fear Of Being Different: Childhood, Audism and Able-Bodied Privilege

I found a bunch of those weird social justice zealot types the other day.

If you gave one of these social justice bloggers unlimited funds to create their perfect television show, first they’d whine about the money not being used to promote awareness of misgendering among potatoes or something, then that you’d dare to make a television show when there are blind or deaf people to think about, or people without televison, or radios, or a stage, or an imagination.

But if you actually managed to get them to write a screenplay for the pilot, it would involve over a hundred characters, each representing every possible skin tone, race, religion, sexuality, whatever number of obscure new mind-gender they’ve created that day, height, weight, and speech pattern.  Nobody would be the main character because giving one person even a second more screentime than anyone else would be racism, ableism, some sort of sexual phobia, and probably against their religion somehow.

Ok…I have a wonderful boyfriend. He loves me. Actually he adores me. And he is very very aware. He is 1/4 Native American, but passes well as a dark haired, dark eyed white person.

He is constantly checking his privilege. And, I love that.

HOWEVER… He is having a little trouble acknowledging his able-bodied or …I don’t know the proper term…..privilege, when I first brought it up to him.

I have a step sister. I adore this girl. We’ve become so close recently. She is mentally handicapped. She also stutters VERY badly.

Abe and I took her out for her birthday, and her ID was expired so two places wouldnt allow her to buy drinks, despite her being over 21.

Anyhow…..Abe kept insisting that she speak to the door people who check IDs and just tell them “hey, I know im from out of state..but heres my birthday” and then point at her birthday so that they will be less inclined to actually see that the ID is expired.

She tried to explain that she couldnt do that because she was very afraid to speak to strangers due to her stuttering problem and he just kept insisting that she speak to the door people checking IDs.

I have tried to explain the concept of his privilege in this aspect and he is having a tough time CHECKING his privilege. At first he had a tough time understanding able-bodied privilege, etc. He quickly began to understand but is having a lot of trouble checking his privilege or even realizing when hes said something potentially hurtful or privileged.

How can I better explain this to him? I always just say “Nope. Check your privilege” and he is ALWAYS open to listening and understanding….but I am having a tough time explaining.

Any help?

I think coming to realize your privilege is a lot like the five stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

When you first learn of having privilege, or that privilege exists, there is a very, very strong shame response. You fall into the “not all ____ are like that” mentality. One denies their privilege for various reasons. They like to think of themselves as a good person, so they cannot be hurting people indirectly. Or that they have been mistreated by the oppressed group, so obviously they can’t have privilege. Or they’ve had a hard life, or any of those in combination. 

It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that you cannot control having privilege. It is given to you for merely being a man, having white skin, being wealthy, etc. It’s hard because you cannot see it yourself until it’s pointed out to you.

People pointing out that you are indirectly harming them sucks. Especially if you think yourself as kind, or try your best to be a good person. It sucks. You want to protect this image you have of yourself and others by saying that you  are not like that! Not everyone is like that! You are protecting your feelings and your feelings alone by doing this. If you can sit there and tell yourself “I am not like that” you will feel better. You are not hurting anyone, right?


By making it about you. About your feelings, you are taking privilege out of context. Privilege doesn’t hurt you. It hurts the people who are oppressed by you. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away anymore than ignoring a bully makes them stop.

People often get stuck in denial. They keep butting up against the same wall of protecting their feelings and self image.

If they can make it over the first hurdle and tackle anger, it usually gets presented in two ways.

Internalizing the anger. Being angry at yourself, is self destructive. It does no good to get angry at yourself and beat up on yourself. Turn the anger outward towards the system that causes the oppression to happen. Get angry about the fact that you are given these privileges and did nothing for them.

The second way is getting angry at the oppressed group. How dare they point out something that you have no control over. Like it’s a flaw. They are just as bad as xyz for pointing out these awful things you have no control over. Right?

Wrong. Those that get angry at the oppressed group for pointing out privilege are doing absolutely no one a favor. Not themselves, and definitely not the group they oppress. The anger forms in “reverses”. Because they believe that oppression goes both ways. They tango with denial and anger and get stuck in believing that they have it just as bad. How dare someone point out that they have more in one area when they have so little in another?

Bargaining is what I see as asking to be educated. Still dancing in denial, one will ask the oppressed group for education. “If you would just educate me I would do better”. It can combo with anger and become demands. You tell yourself that your research is worthless unless someone can back it up. You can’t rely on your own two feet to wade through the muck and blood of privilege.

However, it is not the oppressed’s duty to educate you. You need to sit and listen at this stage instead of demand to know. Sit down. Listen. Don’t get caught up in the phrases, “If only…”

"If only I was educated about this sooner…."

"If only my parents raised me better…"

"If only I knew…"

There’s no use in this. Grieve the loss of control. Move on.

Depression is visited a lot. It makes someone sad to be privileged. To hurt so many people just by existing. This again makes it about the feelings of the privileged and not the oppressed. While all feelings are valid, one needs to take a deep look at why they’re sad.

Is it because they’re hurting people?

Is it because they again, have a loss of control over an aspect of their lives?

Feelings are valid. AND they should be looked at closely to see why you’re feeling them. Being depressed over having privilege does nothing to dismantle the system that gives it to you. And it’s hard to pull yourself out of depression. Seeking help for this is fine.

Just don’t push your sadness onto the people you oppress. They live their oppression, they don’t need to hear how sad it makes you that they are considered less.

When you reach acceptance, you know you have privilege. You are aware of it. You accept it as something you have to live with. And change. You work towards educating others on their privilege so the burden does not fall onto the oppressed. You realize that it doesn’t “go both ways” because that’s not how oppression works. You sit, and listen, and know when people talk about oppression it isn’t about you.

And when you are called out, when you catch yourself, you work to change your behavior. You sit down and think critically about your actions. “Am I like that?”

And if you are, you change. And if you aren’t, you don’t look for cookies from the people who you oppress. You move on, and work on other ways to not be “like that”. The gut reaction of shame will come back and you will have to acknowledge it, realize that you have no control over it, and work to change it for others.

And like the steps of grief, you don’t have to go through these in order. Sometimes, people get angry first. Or they accept first and feel the denial later. Or bargain, get angry, accept and fall into depression.

It’s a lifelong journey learning about privilege vs oppression and recognizing where you sit on either side. And it’s painful. And it sucks. And it will get better. Not easier. But better, as you learn more.

On Blackness and Perceptions of Able-Bodied Privilege

What I’ve noticed on Twitter/Tumblr is that ableism is deemed acceptable as long as the target is not White. I find it fascinating that some of the same Whites who did nothing as I recently dealt with a major ableist slur (basically a man said I have a “complex” making up abuse [and said some other misogynistic insults that were not deemed misogynistic since he isn’t heterosexual; this is common, actually] when I’ve spoken about having mental health-related issues from dealing with abuse—abuse I’ve acutely documented and certainly have not made up) are the ones combing through my archives right now in order to find an essay I wrote in June 2013 (Check Your Able-Bodied Privilege). In that essay I explained my mistake of assuming someone needed my help versus recognizing their own autonomy with mobility. 

In other words, basically they love the idea that I made a mistake that was definitely ableist, for which I apologized to the guy in question (I shouldn’t have moved the chair without asking him) but have nothing to say about ableism directed at me. Further, they saw no need to mention or reblog the follow up post (Continuing The Conversation On Able-Bodied Privilege; it came out that next day) where people with varying disabilities responded to my original essay with what they think the best approach is to assistance versus no assistance. It is more important to “search” for “proof” of my mistakes than to hear the voices of disabled people and/or defend me from a *targeted* ableist attack (though never “defend” in a phony attention-seeking way that brings more harm than good; see number 9 in this post).

When I’ve said that I have able-bodied privilege, honestly this is quite tricky. Ultimately I have fairly good but not perfect mobility. I have severe damage to my body from being hit by a drunk driver and from a head on collision. Both destroyed my finances, nearly took my life and caused depression. I function with long term PTSD and anxiety. Though I don’t experience it right now, I’ve had years of depression. I can hear without a hearing aid but my hearing doesn’t meet what most medicine (and medicine already has its issues, as I well know) calls “good.” I have a chronic migraine problem, possibly undiagnosed fibromyalgia and diagnosed costochondritis with some breathing issues. Thus, I appear as a “healthy” person with thin privilege who has mobility and can “function” in the world as currently constructed. But is this actual able-bodied privilege? I’ve viewed it as such because unlike other privilege for the longest time I thought about able-bodied privilege in a more absolute way than a nuanced one, and I am learning how to do the latter. 

Last month on Twitter I asked a question that I do not think has easy answers. I asked:

What does “neurotypical” look like for the descendants of slaves? What is “normal” mental health when some Black people deal with racism on the hour? Non-visible mental health issues are ignored for Black people and physically able-bodied is assumed since we’re viewed as athletic chattel.

Even as Black bodies are degraded and dehumanized on the regular, the perception of the athletic, super-sexual, impenetrable by pain and suffering, tolerant of abuse, unbreakable, not susceptible to ”weak-minded” “White” “mental health issues” type of Black body prevails. This is why Whites are quick to call out Black people on ableism but cannot defend Black people from ableism. The idea that our bodies are perfect even if subhuman prevails. Perhaps Whites need to think about the ableism that is laced in racism itself. The Strong Black Woman stereotype is ableism. The Angry Black Woman stereotype is ableism. Both make inferences about ability that are false and grounded in dehumanization of Black women’s bodies and mental health states. And this is beyond them already being notions that are racist, sexist, misogynoiristic and one of the keys to upholding White supremacy—controlling images. And because of the impact of White supremacy on Black people, many Black people have internalized both of these ableist characterizations of Black women as actual identities.

Some Whites find pleasure in that essay where I spoke of mistakingly helping a man who didn’t want help and me apologizing to him. This is about finding a way to make sure I am an oppressor and not a person living at multiple intersections as well. They love the idea of someone Black as an oppressor as a way to assuage guilt over the massive plague that is White supremacy. This passion of theirs drive many conversations and thought processes where Black homophobic people are deemed “worse” than White homophobic people, Black transphobic people are deemed “worse” than White transphobic people and the tiny sliver of Black celebrities who are rich are their oppressors, not the White men running the world. 

In my essay I Will Not Tolerate Whites REGULARLY Making FALSE Claims About Me Being Bigoted, I mentioned that mistakes that I make can be called out of course, usually I call myself out (hence the originally referenced essay), but I mainly mentioned how Whites are more concerned with anti-intersectional conceptions of oppression and privilege where there is a space that a Black woman like me can unilaterally be their oppressor. (This is why they both regularly make false claims of bigotry against me and also hunt for areas where I’ve actually made mistakes. This is one of the reasons why they regularly comb through my tweets from 2009 forward and comb through my blog archive or the blog itself page by page in a short period of time.) I am simply disinterested in such concerns of theirs. Such concerns are about White supremacy, not ableism or anything else. 

thebluedream said:

I am white and developmentally disabled. There is a lot of pressure on certain kinds of people to identify as a "person first" and not to call ourselves by our disability identity (for example Autistic, disabled, blind, Deaf, etc). I've been corrected by able people many times. I've always maintained that this is unique among marginalized groups--no one would demand to say a person with femaleness or a person with homosexuality--but is that actually true? I read your post about (cont)

(cont) acknowledging Black. I understood your words better than Kimberlé Crenshaw’s, but I wanted to clarify if I understood correctly. Is “person who happens to be black” an enforced wording (even if not in the same way as person-first language)? Thank you for reading this.

I can’t speak to how to describe the disabilities you’ve named because I have able-bodied privilege in relation to what you named. I have some hearing issues but not total hearing loss; I have full mobility despite some car accident injuries; I have had some mental health issues in adulthood (depression, anxiety, PTSD) but those don’t usually come with an expectation that a person would include those labels as primary identity identifiers. 

In relation to my post you’re referencing, “Black woman” holds more power for me than “woman who happens to be Black.” Both are ways to describe Blackness, but the former makes it clear that race is relevant. Race was made relevant because of racism; it cannot magically be ignored now because both Whites and some Black people (the ones who questioned why/demanded I remove “Black” from one of my posts as a descriptor for a “Black mommy”) want it erased, and for the Whites it is due to guilt, faux racial “colourblindness,” or White supremacist thinking.

I don’t “happen” to be Black. I am unapologetically Black. That’s why I prefer the former wording. 

I am sorry to hear about the pressure to label a certain way and being “corrected.” I do know that if able-bodied people try to tell those with disabilities how to label, the former needs to shut the hell up. The oppressor group always wants to inflict rules and guidelines upon the oppressed. And reclaiming words, subversive labeling, and anti-hegemonic labeling are some of the ways the oppressed can reclaim their own identities and reject the language of oppression. 

And by pretending racial/gender/ability etc. differences do not exist when something good is achieved by a marginalized person, yet when something bad occurs, those differences are highlighted by the privileged group, the privileged reinforce oppression

Hope this cleared up what I meant. Take care. 

Globally, disabled people, most of whom are bodies of color, experience structural violence, monstrous neglect and economic disenfranchisement in ways that render such conditions normal. So, because our lives and bodies have been, and continue to be, systematically relegated to the margins of societal consciousness, we as disabled segments of society personify the bottom rung of otherness. Therefore, we are operating at “negative ten” as it were. And because we are operating at “negative ten,” “zero” is celebrated as the benchmark of our well-being, human dignity, and self-determination.

On no account do I (as a “wheelie”) marvel in gratitude when I access a ramp, an elevator, or wheelchair accessible restrooms because on no account do my able bodied counterparts (“non wheelies”) marvel in gratitude when they access a flight of stairs, an escalator, or “regular” restrooms. Eliminating infrastructural barriers that prevent people with visible disabilities from negotiating space within the built environment is not something we should celebrate as a crucial milestone in our effort to deconstruct able normative supremacy (to do so is to invoke the zero mentality) because it is tremendously reductionist and prevents us from having nuanced conversations about disabled embodiment, exploring Crip subjectivities and deconstructing deeply entrenched manifestations of ableism (read: moving from zero to ten).

Non-disabled people receive support all of the time, but because such “help” is built into social institutions and normalized it looks like independence. If the entire world is constructed with your body and bodily experience in mind, allowing you to move, albeit within the constraints of race, gender, and class, then that is support, institutional support. To demand institutional support, as disabled people, is to move beyond “the zero mentality,” bordering on the burdensome. Well, guess what? Because my Crip subjectivity and disabled embodiment reconfigure the spaces through which I move, my body and the complex, painful, magnificent experiences attached to it deserves more than zero. Indeed, it deserves a perfect ten.

—  Eddie Ndopu, “Able Normative Supremacy And The Zero Mentality,” The Feminist Wire 2/5/13
On The Fear Of Being Different: Childhood, Audism and Able-Bodied Privilege

I was afraid. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Worthy, told my parents that there was something wrong with my hearing, or that it was not as good as it “should” be. I don’t remember exactly how it was phrased. I only know that I had to have hearing tests at school, and I was afraid.

I loved this teacher. She was an older Black woman who really nurtured her Black students and made us excited about learning. She was funny too. Whenever we would say “I’m done” she would say “what did you cook?” We would laugh and say, “Mrs. Worthy, I am finished with the assignment” and she would nod her head. She didn’t like us yelling out “I’m done!” I liked her so much that I felt betrayed that she thought that something was “wrong” with me.

As a little Black girl at a predominantly Black elementary school, I was familiar with the intraracial teasing that we did as children. Some of it was harmless. Some of it, upon reflection, revealed the impact of White supremacy, racism, sexism and misogynoir on young Black children. Were you light skinned enough? Colourism. Eurocentric beauty myths. Internalized racism. Were you thin enough but not too thin as a Black girl? Eurocentric beauty myths. Fatphobia. Did you begin to physically develop as early as the other girls? Misogynoir via controlling images of Black sexuality and hypersexualization of young Black girls because of the combination of racism and sexism. (Black girls are viewed and socialized as adult women because of this.) I didn’t want anything else to make me stand out. I didn’t want to be teased in a way that revealed young children’s ableism—learned from adults and a society where at the time the Americans With Disabilities Act had not even passed yet. Though people still do it now, back in the 80s when I was in elementary school, it was more common to call someone “retarded” and laugh it off. Even teachers would use that word at times, so I was afraid. I could hear…but apparently not well enough.

I passed the hearing tests, however. Even so, I remember when I started the 5th grade, my mom told my math teacher Ms. White that I have trouble hearing. Ms. White called me aside and said if I ever needed any “extra” help, to let her know. This offended me. There was nothing “wrong” with me and I did not need her help. This caused me to withdraw during class and my grades started to slip. They blamed this on my hearing. I felt even more annoyed. I decided to focus and bring my grades up. Meanwhile, one of the “popular” girls laughed and said “I thought you were supposed to be smart!” I thought, wow, they think I cannot hear well, and if I cannot, then I am stupid? I started focusing to prove them wrong. But after a while, it was just to prove it to myself that there was nothing “wrong” with me.

As a young child, I didn’t realize that ableism is bigotry and able-bodied people are complicit in the oppression of people with challenges. Audism is defined as "discrimination that is based on a person’s ability, or lack of ability, to hear. Because it does not directly affect the hearing community, it is not a form of prejudice that is often discussed. In many cases, people who are not deaf have not heard of audism and may not realize that this form of discrimination exists." I just knew that I did not want people to pick on me beyond already being picked on for not being as light as the light skinned girls (though I was not considered dark skinned either, so I was expected to join the light skinned girls in picking on the dark skinned girls, while knowing my “place”), for not having long hair, for being too thin, and for not developing breasts/hips when others did. I was also picked on for attending a church more extreme than other girls; after a while, I couldn’t wear pants to school and I dreaded them seeing me wearing a lace prayer veil, which actually happened one day as was leaving church with my mom and one of my sisters. No matter how different I felt, I was always “middle level” popular. Not quite the dance team or light skinned girls; not quite outcast like very dark skinned girls or heavier girls. With all of this going on, I really didn’t want people to mock me if they thought I had a hearing problem.

The 6th grade was the last time that I had a school-issued hearing test. Again, I passed. I couldn’t figure out why my mom thought I couldn’t hear as well, at the time. Later on in high school years, I realized why. I daydreamed a lot. A LOT. All of the time. I tuned people out. I grew up in a large family in a small home (and often tuned my siblings out when I didn’t want to play) and men started street harassing me at 12 (I tried to tune out as they insulted me). I think my mother processed me ignoring everyone and almost dissociating from the world as a hearing problem. In reality, it was both.

Now in adulthood, I have trouble with low pitch sounds and I watch American films with the English captions on so that I don’t miss any of the script. I have to play my iPod above the midpoint in volume to hear lyrics properly. Even so, I can hear well enough without hearing aids. Further, I am not deaf. I still have able-bodied privilege.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. 9 out of every 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who can hear. Approximately 17 percent (36 million) of American adults report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss or deafness cannot be seen by the eye as some abilities can be; however, people are still judged, shamed and even lose opportunities because of this, even as legal protection under the law should prevent this. Worse, safety can be at risk.

A mutual follower of mine on Twitter mentioned that being deaf alters her experience with street harassment. Men assume she is ignoring them (without say, headphones on) and become even more belligerent and aggressive. I realized that of all of the street harassment experiences that I have endured for over 20 years, I never even thought about how they would react by assuming they’re blatantly being ignored in that way. The reveals my able-bodied privilege, despite both me and this mutual follow being Black women and enduring misognyoir via street harassment.

Obviously as a child, I could not have known then what I now know. I do know that my parents would have loved me regardless, even if I was not able to get by with the level of hearing that I have now. I wish I was not so afraid then when I was a child but when I reflect on it, I actually did have more courage than I thought. I navigated through a world that’s very complicated and painful for Black girls and Black women. And now, I’m committed to the intersectional perspective needed to fight oppression and check privilege.

I mess up sometimes though. I have said phrases like “blinded” in regards to someone not understanding a perspective or “fall on deaf ears” in regards to someone being willfully ignorant. These phrases are ableist, however, and I will continue to work to not use them.

We have to confront white supremacy within LGBT and Queer communities.  A queer politic MUST include solidarity with people of color; it MUST include fighting racism and white supremacy.  Because we aren’t queer OR people of color; queer OR white; queer OR able bodied; queer OR working class.  We can’t just decide to come together as queer people and expect that we are all going to be united and work together—or that we’ll even feel comfortable.

We must be willing to have hard conversations as queer people with each other about how we are different as queer people.  It helps us to expand what “queerness” is—to see that there are many different ways to be queer.  We can’t be afraid to do our own work at our own tables.  And yes, there is much work to be done out there, with folks who aren’t queer.  Yes, that is important too, but we are outsiders here as well.  Because really, there is no “out there.”

For those of us living with multiple oppressed identities, we know this well.  And as adoptees, we know this well—especially as transracial and transnational adoptees.  As people who straddle many different communities, so much of our work must be done with the people in our own communities.  And we do this work for our very survival, because often times, we do not have a choice not to.  There is literally no where else to go.  Our homes are rarely comfortable. (And I know as queer folks we know something about that too).

To the queer white folks in the audience and the folks who benefit from white privilege, I would ask you: how are you connecting your fight for queer liberation to challenging white supremacy?  How are you connecting your queerness to your white privilege?  How are you listening to queer people of color in your world, supporting them and practicing solidarity?  How are you actively noticing how whiteness, racism and white supremacy play out in queer communities, student groups, organizations, and movements?

Racism and white supremacy are so pervasive, that we don’t even have to be consciously or intentionally doing anything to participate in them.  It’s in the air we breathe; it’s how the machine rolls; it’s the default.  It’s backed by everything in our society.  That’s the thing about oppression, power and privilege: unless you are actively challenging it, you are colluding with it. We live in a heterosexist society, we live in an ableist society and we all have a responsibility to actively work against it. We can’t guarantee that things won’t be ableist or won’t be racist (that’s not the world we live in right now); but we CAN guarantee that when there is racism, when there is ableism, that we will do something about it.  We will LISTEN to those most impacted; we will listen to people of color, we will listen to disabled folks; we will listen to trans folks; we will listen to queer disabled people of color—and hear them.  We can guarantee that we will act and communicate with each other.  And we will make mistakes; and we will learn from them.

There is no such thing as neutrality.  If you have privilege, you can never be neutral, because you are constantly benefiting off of that privilege—even at the same time as you are also being oppressed. That is what “intersectionality” (for lack of a better word) is about.  It is about moving beyond single-issue politics; it’s about understanding the complexities of our lives.  It is understanding that fighting for racial justice IS queer; fighting for disability justice IS queer.

It is trying to understand the way our differences lie down inside of us, as Audre Lorde would say.  It is knowing that heterosexist and patriarchal modes of family and gender and sexuality were used in service of white supremacy as the building blocks used to colonize first nation communities and communities of color and their lands.  It is knowing that women of color’s sexualities and genders are policed everyday (in different ways), whether they identify as queer or not. It is being able to hold the trauma and exploitation of transracial and transnational adoptees, as queer people who often think that transracial and transnational adoption is a valid route to parenting.  It is holding the power of building queer family and new models of parenting AND also challenging compulsory child bearing in a heteronormative culture.  It is knowing that race gets used strategically to divide us all the time as queer people.  That ableism, capitalism and class get used to make us think that independence, freedom and consumer choice are more important than justice and liberation.

“Intersectionality” is a big fancy word for my life; for your life, for our lives.  It encompasses so much more than I could ever talk about in one talk.

Intersectionality is not just talking about the places you’re oppressed, but also the places where you have privilege.  Intersectionality is disabled white folks enacting their white entitlement through their disability identity.  It’s me having to choose between the POC caucus, the disability caucus, the API women’s caucus, or the adoptee caucus at the Creating Change in Detroit.  It’s thousands of LGBT and queer folks coming out for pride and 150 people coming out for Transgender Day of Remembrance…

So I would say the same thing to the queer able-bodied folks in the audience and the folks who benefit from able-bodied privilege (in many different ways):  how are you connecting your fight for queer liberation to challenging able-bodied supremacy?  How are you connecting your queerness to your able-bodied privilege?  How are you listening to queer disabled folks in your world, supporting them and practicing solidarity?  How are you actively noticing how ability, ableism and able-bodied supremacy play out in queer communities, student groups, organizations, and movements?

"Well when we let my ten year old autistic sibling have accommodations he started using them as an excuse to be a jerk even thought it was for things he actually needed help with!" Can you please not assume every single autistic person you meet is like your ten year old sibling even if they’re three times his age and have multiple advanced degrees in the thing you’re trying to deny them accommodations for because it might ‘spoil’ them? Kthxbai.

"I’ve spoken to many people about one of my biggest pet peeves: People who wear glasses without lenses. So, you think glasses look cool, but you don’t need them because you have 20/20 vision? Cool. Appreciate them on people who do need to wear them. Do not appropriate the tools of my disability to make a fashion statement.”