Exploring Disability Justice

sins invalidCheck out the upcoming Sins Invalid show, happening October 14-16 in San Francisco!!

In our recent September dialogue, we set out to explore concepts and practices of disability justice in our lives and movements. Below are the resources we compiled for the dialogue, some background, and the questions we explored. Notes from the dialogue can be found here.

The term disability justice was coined out of conversations between disabled queer women of color activists in 2005, including Patty Berne of Sins Invalid, seeking to challenge radical and progressive movements to more fully address ableism (see ‘Principles of Disability Justice’ in the resources section below for more info). Disability justice recognizes the intersecting legacies of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, gendered oppression and ableism in understanding how peoples’ bodies and minds are labelled ‘deviant’, ‘unproductive’, ‘disposable’ and/or ‘invalid’. In our dialogue, we will explore ways to challenge the interlocking systems of ableism, white supremacy and gendered oppression.

Some of our guiding questions were: How do we challenge the racialized and gendered nature of ‘productivism’, in which a person or community’s worth is based on their perceived productivity? How are gendered expectations of productivity and desirability used to uphold white supremacy and colonialism? How do we create and build spaces and communities centering disability justice? How are gendered norms about bodies, including body size, used to maintain white supremacy and what legacies of resistance do we draw from? How do we connect radical mental health and histories of gendered and racialized violence? How do we connect to our bodies and minds as sites of trauma and resistance across place and time? How do we practice and embody self-care and community-care towards disability justice, resisting cultural appropriation?

Some suggested resources for this dialogue:
This is Disability Justice, Nomy Lamm
Principles of Disability Justice – a working draft, Patty Berne
Sick Woman Theory, Joanna Hedva *trigger warning sexual violence
Wherever You Are is Where I Want to Be: Crip Solidarity, Mia Mingus
A Babe-Licious Healing Justice Statement, BadAss Visionary Healers (BAVH)

Audio / Video resources:
Dialogue on Disability Justice Movement Building with Patty Berne *no subtitles
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha Sins Invalid Performance * trigger warning sexual violence
Notes on Cure, Disability and Natural Worlds, Eli Clare * check out the first video, and for his first poem starting at minute 10:05, trigger warning sexual violence

From Aurora Levins Morales’ book Kindling:
“There is no neutral body from which our bodies deviate. Society has written deep into each strand of tissue of every living person on earth. What it writes into the heart muscles of five star generals is distinct from what it writes in the pancreatic tissue and intestinal tracts of Black single mothers in Detroit, of Mexicana migrants in Fresno, but no body stands outside the consequences of injustice and inequality…What our bodies require in order to thrive, is what the world requires. If there is a map to get there, it can be found in the atlas of our skin and bone and blood, in the tracks of neurotransmitters and antibodies.”

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