cripelectric: river tam from the shoulders up, on the right hand-side of the picture and the words  also i can kill you with my brain (Default)
[personal profile] cripelectric
I got this idea from a thread that developed on the Critical Disability Studies Students Association FB page, when one of my friends posted this list that listed 10 disabled people who overcame their disabilities (link here: ), thereby achieving “great things”, asking how we could counter such casually ableist articles.

Not being fans of the “overcoming narrative”, or of the “great things”, the one, because it presupposes that what is hindering disabled people’s lives is impairment/disability, whereas, ableism is much greater factor in doing that. And the other, because it uses fame, and success, as defined via a mainstream neo-liberal and capitalist framework, to assess what actions are worthwhile, beneficial, and laudatory.

Community-building is done a myriad of ways by a multitude of people, who often are not recognized for being the awesome people they are. So, although I don’t discount some of the people on that list as having contributed to defining disability in ways that can counter disability stereotypes, I am not uncritical of the fact that they each had access to a huge amount of privilege in order to do so.

The people on that list also skirt the thin line between supercripdom/inspirational porn, for nondisabled people, and being people disabled people can look up to, and want to emulate.
Therefore, I would like to compile a list of 100- or more- awesome disabled activists and community-builders, in order to create a counter-narrative about who it is that counts as people who are contributing to fighting ableism, disability stereotypes, and building sustainable communities where accessibility and disability are centrally important goals and forms of knowledge.

So, if people want to send in their suggestions, I’m into creating an online home for a compilation of 100- or more awesome disabled activists and community builders.
A few guidelines- provisional and open to change:
If you send me just a name, I’m not including it- send me a name who this person is, what they do, where, how, etc… I just finished a two-year research project for my M.A., so kind done with research for a while.

DON’T SEND super famous people, such as Michael, J.Fox and Stephen Hawkins- they ALREADY have everyone knowing their name and using them as “disability icons”, this list is to highlight the work and actions of disabled people who need the recognition, because their awesomeness goes unrecognized. I will be adding my own suggestion, so you can get an idea who I mean.

DON’T SEND famous dead people such as Charles Dickens, Julius Caesar, and Claude Monet- in some cases they are being diagnosed after their deaths and speculatively, and it’s this whole process of pathologization and legitimization of medical diagnosis which I understand works on the level of justifying a history of disabled people, but on the other also serves to reinforce the notion of disabled people needing to be famous to be recognized as worthwhile. This is for community-builders, so by all means, include Ed Roberts and Helen Keller but consider also that Audre Lorde was a fierce disability activist, and that Emi Koyama has contributed to many a queer disabled person’s self of identity as disabled people.

Similarly, if you’re fighting ableism in your queer/trans*/feminist/sports association/ workplace/ school/gaming/crafting communities, then you are fighting ableism- we need to recognize that disabled people are EVERYWHERE and so disability activism happen many places and in many ways.

The idea for this list, after seeing my friend’s post on FB, came to me because I knew of the “100 Trans” project at That list is similar to what I propose here, although I am not averse to including people who have passed away, as too much of disability history gets forgotten as it is.

HOWEVER, the 100 Trans list is all –American, and I am not American, but a Quebecois, Canadian, francophone living in English Canada, and , am not interested in doing something that is just Canadian, or just American, especially considering the critiques I have of the nation-state .
Also, I would suggest we not make this a disability studies bibliography- I know, as a disability scholar/researcher myself I know, outside of our field no one knows about disability studies…but no one knows about disability activists and community-builders either, and academia is a privileged space…

RECOGNIZE that not all disability activism happens within mainstream disability rights movements, and that, disability rights/accessibility, as a single-issue, is not as helpful as many people assume.

This is at the compilation stage right now, so let’s compile this and see what we can do with it, and then unleash it on the world.

All that being taken into consideration, here are my submissions:

Audre Lorde:

was a Black lesbian poet, essayist, activist, feminist, woman, who wrote some of the most powerful speeches about oppression and who developed some of the most significant critiques of second-wave white feminist movements, including LGB liberation movement. Audre Lorde’s Cancer Journals, where she recounts her personal experiences as a Black lesbian living with cancer are an important text about illness/disability, and should be included in all disability studies curricula, at least. Audre Lorde died of cancer in 1992.

Emi Koyama:

“is a multi-issue social justice activist and writer synthesizing feminist, Asian, survivor, dyke, queer, sex worker, intersex, genderqueer, and crip politics, as these factors, while not a complete descriptor of who she is, all impacted her life. Emi is currently the director of Intersex Initiative. Emi lives in Portland, Oregon and is putting the emi back in feminism since 1975. Email Emi at” Emi Koyama is awesome for so many reasons, it’s hard to take breath and list them, cause you know you’re going to forget something. They develop analysis around feminisms, disability, racism, transness* poverty, queerness, the pathologization of intersex people that is so beyond even intersectionality, that you can barely see it with your glasses and squinting really hard. I’m still amazed everytime I meet someone who doesn’t know them…

Access_fandom community on DreamWidth:
This is a community that was started by disabled fans for disabled fans, and contributes to the development of awareness about ableism in fan communities. Their goals are : “is a learning & teaching space. It's about how to improve access at conventions and conferences and how to make online fandom more disability-friendly.” Access_fandom is an online space where disabled fans can congregate and organize, and they also have been a springboard for discussion around accessibility as WisCon, and a place for disability activism to flourish online. Considering that I just finished writing my Master’s project on disability in fanfiction communities, I can tell you first-hand, that not enough people know about the initiatives of disabled fans online and off, and more people need to know.


cripelectric: river tam from the shoulders up, on the right hand-side of the picture and the words  also i can kill you with my brain (Default)

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