Tag Archives: disability rights

Review: Resistance & Hope, Edited by Alice Wong

Illustration by artist Micah Bazant featuring a midnight blue sky with little white stars. Below is a log with mushrooms growing out of it in multiple shapes and colors. “Text reads: Resistance & Hope, Essays by Disabled People, Crip Wisdom for the People, Edited by Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project.” The ‘o’ in ‘Hope’ looks like a full moon
Illustration by Micah Bizant

The term “resistance” has gotten plenty of traction in 2018, most notably by people on the left who are alarmed at the Trump Administration’s continued disregard for the humanity of immigrants, disabled people, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and pretty much anyone else who is not a wealthy, conservative white man.

Resistance as a concept is particularly important for disabled people; after all, resistance and the act of resisting oppression can be seen in many parts of disability history and activism, such as the 1990 Capitol Crawl and other direct action events. A new anthology edited by Alice Wong (of the Disability Visibility Project), Resistance & Hope: Essays By Disabled People, makes the case that a vibrant, vital disability justice movement will include not just resistance, but hope for the future as well.

The essays in this 80-page collection cover a lot of different topics, and one of the strengths of Resistance & Hope is in the variety and depth of topics explored. Standout pieces include Cyree Jarelle Johnson’s complex analysis of Barron Trump’s “alleged autistic childhood” and President Trump’s anti-vaccination tweets; DJ Kuttin Kandi and Leroy Moore’s collaboration on krip hop as a musical movement; Mari Kurisato’s powerful piece on colonial violence, eugenics, and the 2016 Sagamihara murders; Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan’s personal examination of disability activism and respectability politics; Vilissa Thompson’s personal essay on the role that hope plays in her activist and advocacy work; and Maysoon Zayid’s hilarious, sharply intelligent essay on the many, many ways in which the Trump Administration has made life more uncertain for people with disabilities. It is difficult for me to anoint “favorites” here, since each writer in Resistance & Hope offers their own unique take on the interconnected nature(s) of resistance, hope, and disability justice for people with all sorts of disabilities. If you’re looking for inspirational or sentimental narratives about people with disabilities, you will not find those sorts of narratives in Resistance & Hope, making the collection both a great read and extremely refreshing. 

As a voracious reader who is also multiply disabled, I have read countless disability anthologies. Not all of them have been quality reads; some are heavily academic in a way that distracts from the salient points being made, and others lean way too much on the whole “inspiration porn” deal. Resistance & Hope is an impressive, diverse collection that deserves a wide audience across the spectrum of (dis)abilities. I would recommend Resistance & Hope to seasoned disability activists, but also to people who are confused by what “disability activism” means, or who do not know that disability activism and justice is its own progressive movement. It is a beautifully written, sometimes intense, and provocative collection that shows the diversity of our community while inviting the reader to think critically about ability, ableism, and more.

Resistance & Hope is available for purchase or free download here.

Drawing Out Whiteness and Disability: Part 4

Previous installments: 1, 2, and 3.

Accessibility note: The image descriptions for this series, since they are very long, can be found under the image .jpgs in each installment, rather than in the alt-text field. 

Click “Read More” to read part 4 of this comic series; click the images to fully enlarge.

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Hidden Histories: The Bhopal Disaster and Western-Centric Ideas of Disability Rights

In the early morning hours of December 3rd, 1984, hundreds of gallons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas began to leak out of large industrial containers on the property of the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, located in the Madhya Pradesh region of India. This incident, known as the Union Carbide disaster, is considered by many environmental activists and scholars to be one of the worst man-made industrial disasters of the 20th century.

Although the gas leak occurred decades ago, the continuing adverse health effects of the disaster that plague Bhopal’s citizens have far-reaching implications for a more global framework of disability rights—something that the Western disability movement has unfortunately left by the wayside.

The illness, health issues, reproductive problems, disability and related abject poverty that the Bhopal gas leak left in its wake signals important issues for disability studies and the disability rights movement–many of which remain unaddressed. The negative and debilitating effects that the Bhopal disaster caused, including illness, injury and disablement reveal some of the limitations of what scholars Clare Barker and Stuart Murray, in their 2010 article “Disabling Postcolonialism: Global Disability Cultures and Democratic Criticism,” call a “rights-centered” disability framework. This framework has taken particular root in the West and especially in North America. Of course, the rights-based social model that disability activists in the U.S. and Canada have forwarded since the mid-1970s is useful and empowering for many people. It has also been instrumental in separating the association with “able” as “good”/normal and “disabled” as automatically “bad” or abnormal.

Continue reading “Hidden Histories: The Bhopal Disaster and Western-Centric Ideas of Disability Rights” »