vilissa

Two years ago yesterday (May 3rd), I graduated with my MSW (Master’s of Social Work) degree.  Grad school was a welcomed challenge, & it allowed me to blossom in ways I never did in undergrad.  I took full advantage of everything my program had to offer, & everything I did (from the research assistantship to being president of the MSW student group & being in the academic specialization program) provided me with the confidence, skills, & knowledge I needed for the work I’m doing now - disability rights & advocacy.

I posted this photo to say this:  Black, disabled women are EDUCATED, we do GRADUATE, & we WILL CONQUER the world.  To my rolling divas of all shades… get your education so that we can fight for our rights as women & as those who are disabled.  

I plan to apply for my last degree (law school, JD) around 2016.  This will allow me to build on my business (Ramp Your Voice!), & write the books about the disability experience.  So… I’m a busy woman on 4 wheels, & I love it.  No one expected the poor, disabled girl born with OI from a small town in SC to excel, but I’ve proven them wrong in my 28 years on this planet… & I will continue to do so. ~ Vilissa, proud HS Valedictorian (C/O 2004), licensed MSW, disabled womanist & advocate

rampyourvoice  asked:

Hi! I absolutely love your blog! My name is Vilissa. I'm an African American woman with a disability, & I founded a disability rights consultation & advocacy organization called Ramp Your Voice! RYV!'s aim is to propel the voices of people of color, particularly women, with disabilities because we're underrepresented & ignored within the disability community & the mainstream. I'm reaching out to see if you knew of any books & articles about being of color, female, & disabled.

Hi, thanks so much for the blog love!

As far as books go, honestly, I think a lot of Black women’s fiction speak of disabilities that are ignored for us: mental health/neuroatypical status. We view them as “struggles” and “oppressions” which they are, but I feel like we don’t interrogate them and how the ableism involved in the Strong Black Woman stereotype harms us beyond even racism, sexism, misogynoir, anti-Blackness, classism, colourism and White supremacy etc. I alluded to this very thing in a recent essay: On Blackness and Perceptions of Able-Bodied Privilege where I described how ableism against me is ignored because of stereotypes involved in being a Black woman.

Some fiction examples: The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara. That’s depression and suicide ideation. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. That’s depression and anxiety; severely. The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips. Depression, anxiety, hallucinations caused by sexual abuse. Home by Toni Morrison. Depression, anxiety, PTSD. 

Check this out: 100 Books by Black Women Everyone Must Read on For Harriet.

As far as visible/physical disabilities, I can’t think of any books off of the top of my head as far as fiction goes as I read way more non-fiction than fiction. As far as non-fiction/news type content, I follow disabilityhistory on Tumblr which launches into a variety of topics and have read good content on the National Black Disability Coalition website.

Other good articles that I’ve read:

Hopefully this helps and perhaps people who see this and have something to add can reblog to provide you with more. 

Take care. ❤

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So, I went on a lunch “date” with someone I liked.  These are the photos I took before we met up.  The hanging out was okay… not sure how he feels, but I enjoyed myself (& ate good).

I wanted to show how beautiful Black disabled women are.  I’m a bad mamma-jamma on wheels! ~ Vilissa

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To know my journey as a Black disabled woman, you have to know my past.  

I was born with OI (Osteogenesis Imperfecta), better known as brittle bones disease.  My beloved Grandmother raised me in a loving home, & showed me what unconditional love was about.  I have part of her name, & have always been proud of that name - Vilissa.  Unbeknownst to me until I reached adulthood, Vilissa is French, & means, “to love & cherish life.”  How fitting of a name for a young disabled Black girl who was smart, caring, loving, fun, kind-hearted, sassy, loved to learn, & knew how special she was by the praise she received at home, at school, and from those she met.  

The young Vilissa would experience many successes as she went through school, which empowered her because she knew she was just as good, if not better, as anyone else.  Her excelling in every subject motivated her to do well in the subjects she loved - reading & writing.  She had no idea how powerful words would be to her as an adult, but at this time, she loved reading her Baby-Sitters Club books, & writing in countless journals, sometimes creating worlds & characters that didn’t exist, but her imagination & ability to tell a story grew profoundly.  

As I grew into my teen & adult years, I changed in ways that I didn’t imagine, but the loving, supportive foundation I had in my younger years caused me to be steadfast as I grew & navigated an able-bodied society.

This is Part 1, showing my years from 1st birthday to 12 years old.  

ATTENTION:  Disabled Black Women, & Other Disabled Women of Color

I’ll be conducting a presentation near the end of March about disabled women of color, & I’d love to have my amazing followers share something for it.  

Your submissions doesn’t have to be long - a few lines will suffice, but no more than 2-4 paragraphs total.  (If you go over, don’t stress!)   

Here’s what I’m seeking to gather from you all in your responses:

What are some of the challenges with having a triple minority status (being disabled, Black / of color, & female), & what can be done to empower disabled women of color?  

Deadline:  Tuesday, March 15th, 2016.

How to Submit:  You can send your responses to me via email at Vilissa@rampyourvoice.com, or by hitting up the RYV! Tumblr inbox.  

If you decide to send an email, you can place your responses in the body of the email, or in a Word document.  The choice is up to you as to what’s easiest.  

Important note:  No real names will be used for this (I’ll be creating pseudonyms for the narratives I use), so be as candid as you’d like.

@dollhospitaljournal, would you mind signal boosting this, & participating?  :)  

SIGNAL BOOST this please!!!

~ Vy

npr.org
For Parents Of Young Black Men With Autism, Extra Fear About Police

People with autism often have trouble communicating with police, which can be dangerous — and scary for parents who also worry about racial profiling. Now, some cities are trying to mitigate the risk.


This article explains why police brutality of those of color needs to be on the radar of the disability community because it CAN & DOES happen to those who are disabled & Black (& Brown).  ~ Vilissa, disabled Black woman who knows that her disability doesn’t immune her from being harassed by the police.