Recommended Reading for April 7, 2010
Another short one today – the stuff in my personal life is ongoing. I’m sorry.
As I know that with Palmer’s projects and statements, there are things I might miss because I am able bodied, because I am privileged as Palmer is herself. I know that I have been made to think about the ways I think of disabled bodies and about the history of racial violence and murder in this country. I have been forced to examine myself, to see the ways in which I am no better (or maybe worse) than Palmer. But when the time came and is still coming that opinions about the disabled, about them speaking up for themselves are formed, when people insult and laugh at and ignore and disregard the disabled, accuse them of faking it or belittle them, or use them as tools to be “inspirational” to able people, it will not be Palmer who bears that cost, who gets hit in the face. When it comes time for people to handwave away murder and torture and the history of racial violence in this nation and how the images and words connected with it still hurt for some but are meaningless for others, Palmer will not be hurt by that. Palmer will not pay the price for it. Palmer will surf the wave of controversy and sadly free publicity to interviews and sales and she will laugh all the way to her bank.
Because it comes down to this, as I’ve said before. When the price for art and statements about art came around, Badu paid up, in full, on time, and without hesitation from her own metaphorical coiffers, and it is becoming a steep price. Palmer passed the buck onto those who have already paid so much for the statements and “art” and “irony” of others. The price is steep, but she is not and never will truly be on the hook for it. Because she chose other bodies, other selves to put in the line of fire.
I really, really don’t want to write about disability for normal people.
I don’t want to explain that I don’t see people as objects. I don’t want to explain that I’m not just imagining that I have a disability. I don’t want to have to make an analogy where I go, “Some people with cerebral palsy can talk and some can’t, they all have cerebral palsy, and it’s the same with autism spectrum disorders.” (Also, who knows if people will even get that. My dad thinks that the reason CK can walk is that he’s really energetic and determined.)
I have recently been trying to have these conversations with my mom. I don’t know why. I just get told that, for example, I should imagine why someone might kill their kid with a disability. This really upsets me because it’s not that I don’t have compassion for people who do bad things, but constantly reminding me to have compassion for a particular group of people who do bad things seems to imply that what they do is less bad than what other people do.
In contrast, I was two years old and, according to my mom, not talking yet, not looking at her, and with a laundry list of other difficulties that she had not anticipated at the time that I was diagnosed. In addition, the coverage given to the issue of autism was being filled with more and more fear-mongering and talk about early behavioral “interventions.” The way this impacted me mostly involved my parents placing me in some of these programs to ensure that I didn’t end up like Rainman or the difficult autistic children they read about in nonfiction books that were rife with “tragedy” talk. These involved things that helped, such as speech lessons and OT that taught me a little bit of cooking in addition to some sewing and knitting as well as being a time when I could calm down and “recharge.”
However, there were also things that have tainted my life experience forever. Because I was autistic, it was considered justifiable for teachers to twist my head around so that I would make eye contact.
After months of prodding, Florida’s health department began investigating. This year, the agency concluded that The Acreage was the site of a cancer cluster.
The finding was a vindication for some, but what followed infuriated many: A state health official said there was no plan to search for an environmental cause. Residents and elected officials protested, and that position was quickly reversed. But many residents in The Acreage remain suspicious about the state’s commitment to the investigation.
US: Constance McMillien, and “two students with learning difficulites” were sent to a fake prom. McMillen: I Was Sent to Fake Prom
“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them,” McMillen says. “The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to.”
Last week McMillen asked one of the students organizing the prom for details about the event, and was directed to the country club. “It hurts my feelings,” McMillen says.
Two students with learning difficulties were among the seven people at the country club event, McMillen recalls. “They had the time of their lives,” McMillen says. “That’s the one good thing that come out of this, [these kids] didn’t have to worry about people making fun of them [at their prom].”
While winning the role may have been serendipitous for R.J., what he is making out of the opportunity is quite deliberate. It has allowed him to discover himself — not only as an actor but also as an activist for the rights of people with disabilities in the entertainment industry.
He has become a spokesman for I AM PWD (Inclusion in the Arts and Media of Performers With Disabilities), an advocacy campaign sponsored by three entertainment industry unions — Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Actors’ Equity Association.
The campaign highlights long-simmering issues regarding people with disabilities in the entertainment industry — access, inclusion and accuracy of portrayal.