Access Intimacy: The Missing Link (via Leaving Evidence)

Mia Mingus gives a name to a set of experiences in my life that I didn’t know could have a name. This is a beautiful, brave, and painfully honest piece about Mingus’ experiences with access intimacy. She says it much better than I ever could – make sure you make time for yourself to read her blog post and soak up her eloquent words.

Access Intimacy: The Missing Link There are many ways to describe intimacy.  For example, there’s physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, intellectual, political, familial or sexual intimacy.  But, as a physically disabled woman, there is another kind of intimacy I have been struggling to name and describe, what I have been calling “access intimacy.” I have begun using the term loosely and am still realizing different aspects of it.  This is in no way a complete describing of it, … Read More

via Leaving Evidence

The Power of Disability Justice

Well said, Mia Mingus.

As a queer, disabled woman of color, disability justice feels like a political home for me, a place where I can engage in conversations about disability and race and gender and queerness and capitalism and more.

I tried to look to the disability rights movement, but I saw very few leaders who reflected me, and I found that, for the most part, disability was being talked about as an isolated single issue. Having been involved with racial justice, queer liberation, reproductive justice and feminist movements most of my life, I have rarely encountered spaces that addressed disability or connected it with other issues.

What does it mean to not have the luxuries of deciding when to use the bathroom in the place where you live, having alone time or going to visit a loved one in their home? How do we re-imagine relationships that center interdependency? How do able-bodied people move from simply “supportive allies” to political comrades who are actively incorporating a disability justice understanding into their work and lives?

We cannot fight for liberation without a deep, clear understanding of disability, ableism and disability justice. The bodies of our communities are under siege by forces that leverage violence and ableism at every turn. Ableism is connected to all of our struggles because it undergirds notions of whose bodies are considered valuable, desirable and disposable. How do we build across our communities and movements so that we are able to fight for each other without leveraging ableism?

I imagine a world where our organizing and activism is less segregated, where our movements and communities are accessible and don’t participate in the isolation of disabled communities. I imagine places where we fight for whole and connected people, families and communities.

Read the whole thing here: Changing the Framework: Disability Justice.

The next part of the discussion that I want to have is how do we promote and help co-create disability justice in a homebirth context, both for parents and parents-to-be with disabilities and then also for parents who give birth to children with disabilities.

Creating Collective Community

Not only am I in love with both Mia Mingus and Stacey Milbern, but I am in love with this way of thinking about and creating community through social justice work.

I knew doing collective access work would be the most strategic way for us to navigate these conference spaces together, but I did not realize how much doing this work would cultivate community. It feels like I stumbled my way into beloved community, into this space where I can dance and sing off key. Collective access work translated into creating a space where no one got left behind, a space where if a person – including the group as a whole — did do wrong by someone, we’d be committed to addressing it and learning from it, instead of shrinking away.

I don’t know that I have a lot of my own thoughts to share these days (or maybe I just have too many to distill down into a blog post), but I in deep gratitude to amazing and inspiring activists like Mingus and Milbern and the love they bring to the work they do.

Reproductive Justice

Do you remember a while ago when I posted about Mia Mingus and Sebastian Margaret’s Disability Justice workshop at the 2010 CLPP Conference? Mingus went through an incredible graphic utilized by Spark Reproductive Justice to help flesh out all of the nuances and aspects to reproductive justice and showed how this same framework could be applied to other social justice focuses such as disability justice and environmental justice. About a month ago, Spark posted that same graphic on their blog and I’m happy to share it with all of you! Check it out.

One Year Anniversary

I started this blog one year ago this month as I was gearing up to become a midwifery student. How exciting. Happy anniversary to us!

Earlier this month, I attended the CLPP (Civil Liberties and Public Policy) conference at Hampshire College, which was amazing. I learned all sorts of stuff that I’m still processing and got great feedback at a panel discussion on empowering birth about bringing reproductive justice into midwifery even more. I also got a chance to sit in on a long workshop with Mia Mingus and Sebastian Margaret about disability justice.

Mia Mingus and Sebastian Margaret’s workshop was absolutely fantastic. The most exciting part for me was  when we broke down disability justice into all of its myriad components and learned how to analyze each piece. I’ve long been a fan of the environmental and reproductive justice movements, but it was the first time I was given the tools to be able to analyze and understand all of the moving parts and interactive pieces of what makes a movement about social justice for all, and not just an anti-ableism movement, a pro-choice movement, or a green the environment movement. As Margaret said, no one is going anywhere unless we can move all of the pieces of this sticky wicket forward together. That means that if we are to achieve disability justice, we can’t just fight against ableism or for accessible buildings, but we have to look at how that interacts with racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, the top-down power structures of the school system, the prison industrial complex, etc. etc. etc.

Over the course of the coming year, I will begin writing pieces that take a look at reproductive justice, piece by piece, and finding ways to incorporate that into midwifery – both in my individual practice and learning, and as a broader part of the homebirth movement as a whole. I welcome your thoughts, questions, disagreements, and discussions. We certainly aren’t going to be successful at incorporating reproductive justice with midwifery unless there are a lot of us talking about and thinking about and doing this work. Together.

What should we talk about first? Let’s get this discussion started!

Fighting for racial justice IS queer

Mia Mingus is amazing and if you don’t know who she is, you should definitely go and check her out. She is “a queer disabled woman of color korean american transracial and transnational adoptee working, creating and loving towards wholeness and connection, love and liberation” and one kick-ass activist.

Her recent blog post “Intersectionality” is a Big Fancy Word for my Life pares down the keynote address she recently gave at MBLGTACC 2010. I think I’m in love. Listen.

We have to confront white supremacy within LGBT and Queer communities.  A queer politic MUST include solidarity with people of color; it MUST include fighting racism and white supremacy.  Because we aren’t queer OR people of color; queer OR white; queer OR able bodied; queer OR working class.  We can’t just decide to come together as queer people and expect that we are all going to be united and work together—or that we’ll even feel comfortable.

We must be willing to have hard conversations as queer people with each other about how we are different as queer people.  It helps us to expand what “queerness” is—to see that there are many different ways to be queer.

This talk about intersectionality is my kind of politics. The more I move out in the world, the more I realize that thinking in this way is part of a radical politic. Also, the more I grow the more I know without a doubt how absolutely necessary this kind of thinking is.

Racism and white supremacy are so pervasive, that we don’t even have to be consciously or intentionally doing anything to participate in them.  It’s in the air we breathe; it’s how the machine rolls; it’s the default.  It’s backed by everything in our society.  That’s the thing about oppression, power and privilege: unless you are actively challenging it, you are colluding with it. We live in a heterosexist society, we live in an ableist society and we all have a responsibility to actively work against it. We can’t guarantee that things won’t be ableist or won’t be racist (that’s not the world we live in right now); but we CAN guarantee that when there is racism, when there is ableism, that we will do something about it.  We will LISTEN to those most impacted; we will listen to people of color, we will listen to disabled folks; we will listen to trans folks; we will listen to queer disabled people of color—and hear them.  We can guarantee that we will act and communicate with each other.  And maybe we will make mistakes; and we will learn from them.

There is no such thing as neutrality.  If you have privilege, you can never be neutral, because you are constantly benefiting off of that privilege—even at the same time as you are also being oppressed. That is what “intersectionality” (for lack of a better word) is about.  It is about moving beyond single-issue politics; it’s about understanding the complexities of our lives.  It is understanding that fighting for racial justice IS queer; fighting for disability justice IS queer.

Intersectionality informs the type of student midwife I am and the type of midwife I hope to be. How can we wake the birth community up to the necessity of this expansive way of thinking?