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Re-imagining Resistance:

Deconstructing (Dis)ability Oppression within Social Justice Work

Edward Ndopu

on 11 April 2013

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Transcript of Re-imagining Resistance:

Re-imagining Resistance:

Deconstructing Disability Oppression within Social Justice Work All manifestations of oppression are connected to form a matrix of domination, necessitated by settler colonialism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, cis* gender supremacy and economic exploitation.
Because we have all been socialized into this matrix of domination, anti-oppression is therefore a life-long process of unlearning, relearning and resisting.

"Having privilege isn’t something you can usually change, but that’s okay, because it’s not something you should be ashamed of, or feel bad about. being told you have privilege, or that you’re privileged, isn’t an insult. it’s a reminder! the key to privilege isn’t worrying about having it, or trying to deny it, or apologize for it, or get rid of it. it’s just paying attention to it, and knowing what it means for you and the people around you. having privilege is like having big feet. no one hates you for having big feet! they just want you to remember to be careful where you walk."sindeloke, on privilege “Ableism cuts across all of our movements because ableism dictates how bodies should function against a mythical norm—an able-bodied standard of white supremacy, heterosexism, sexism, economic exploitation, moral/religious beliefs, age and ability. Ableism set the stage for queer and trans people to be institutionalized as mentally disabled; for communities of color to be understood as less capable, smart and intelligent, therefore “naturally” fit for slave labor; for women’s bodies to be used to produce children, when, where and how men needed them; for people with disabilities to be seen as “disposable” in a capitalist and exploitative culture because we are not seen as “productive;” for immigrants to be thought of as a “disease” that we must “cure” because it is “weakening” our country; for violence, cycles of poverty, lack of resources and war to be used as systematic tools to construct disability in communities and entire countries.”

---- Mia Mingus I reject the notion that my body has to be pigeonholed into hegemonic definitions of personhood in order for me to be regarded as valuable. I am valuable because I am a manifestation of the universe. I don't need to work because, to borrow the words of Audre Lorde, ''I am my best work - a series of road maps, reports, recipes, doodles, and prayers from the front lines."
On no account do I, personally, marvel in gratitude when I use a ramp, elevator or wheelchair-accessible restroom because on no account do my able-bodied counterparts marvel in gratitude when they use a flight of stairs, an escalator or so-called regular restrooms. They simply know that they are entitled to freedom of movement. Why should I feel indebted to society for what are, in effect, universal entitlements? How Social Movements Reproduce Ableism Disability Oppression vs. Ableism Source: http://nelliesshelter.wordpress.com/ Ableism: a set of institutionalized attitudes, policies and systems which dehumanize, pathologize, criminalize and either desexualize or hypersexualize people whose bodies do not fit into socially constructed notions of what constitutes a ''normal'' human being/body.

**Ableism manifests itself in disability oppression.** Source: http://www.nickscrusade.org/the-social-vs-medical-model-communities-have-to-choose/ SOCIAL MODEL MEDICAL MODEL INTERACTIONAL MODEL “I come from peoples who have long histories of being onstage—freaks and drag queens, court jesters, and scientific experiments…We’ve posed for anthropologists and cringed in front of doctors, jumped through hoops and answered the same questions over and over; performed the greatest spectacles and thumbed our noses a that shadow they call normal”

“Gawking, Gaping, Staring” by Eli Clare

Treating my body with kindness is an act of decolonization and resistance. My body is the battleground where I wage war with the medical and academic industrial complex. Therefore, self-care is my weapon of choice. Photo of Robin & Bethany by Stan Bowman. The statement "the only disability in life is a bad attitude" puts the responsibility for our oppression squarely at the feet, prosthetic or otherwise, of people with disabilities. It's victim blaming. It says that we have complete control of the way disability impacts our lives. To that, I have one thing to say. Get stuffed.

By far the most disabling thing in my life is the physical environment. It dictates what I can and can't do every day. But if Hamilton is to be believed, I should just be able to smile at an inaccessible entrance to a building long enough and it will magically turn into a ramp. I can make accessible toilets appear where none existed before, simply by radiating a positive attitude. I can simply turn that frown upside down in the face of a flight of stairs with no lift in sight. Problem solved, right?

I'm a natural optimist, but none of that has ever worked for me.

Inspiration porn shames people with disabilities. It says that if we fail to be happy, to smile and to live lives that make those around us feel good, it's because we're not trying hard enough. Our attitude is just not positive enough. It's our fault. Not to mention what it means for people whose disabilities are not visible, like people with chronic or mental illness, who often battle the assumption that it's all about attitude. And we're not allowed to be angry and upset, because then we'd be "bad" disabled people. We wouldn't be doing our very best to "overcome" our disabilities.

I suppose it doesn't matter what inspiration porn says to us as people with disabilities. It's not actually about us. Disability is complex. You can't sum it up in a cute picture with a heart-warming quote.

So next time you're tempted to share that picture of an adorable kid with a disability to make your Facebook friends feel good, just take a second to consider why you're really clicking that button.

Social Model Medical Model Interactional Model Source: http://nelliesshelter.wordpress.com/ As one of my dearest friends put it "a vicarious experience is not an experience." No matter how much you claim to be knowledgeable about or empathetic to disenfranchised people's social reality, your perspective can never supplant their lived experience.
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