Recommended Reading for April 7, 2010

A red, white and black butterfly is standing on the very edge of a curly bench arm.  Arm-crutches are looped around the bench.

Another short one today – the stuff in my personal life is ongoing. I’m sorry.

The cost of art

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.

Sometimes the Best Self-Advocacy is Shutting the Fuck Up

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.

Normalization Wastes Energy

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.

US: Cancer Clusters in Florida Worry Parents

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].”

‘Breaking Bad’ actor RJ Mitte finds ‘perfect role’ prepared him to become an activist

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.

8 thoughts on “Recommended Reading for April 7, 2010

  1. Am I the only person rubbed wrong by the whole thing where it’s seen as more heinous that Constance McMillen was sent to a fake prom than that her (unnamed) disabled classmates were? Both were wrong. Equally wrong. Equally disgusting. It wasn’t protective and ok to send her classmates to the fake one and oppressive to send her. No, no, no.

  2. Yeah, that bothered me, too. Maybe the other kids did have a good time, but there’s no acknowledgement that their feelings still might have been hurt just as Constance’s were. It seems to me that the assumption is that these kids didn’t know any better (and also that they were in fact better off going to this fake prom than the real one).

  3. Constance had a quote in the Advocate story saying, basically, that it was good for the kids with disabilities because they weren’t mocked or persecuted. Which – on one hand, I’m glad they weren’t, and glad they got a prom experience without that. But the idea that having a separate and very less than equal prom was the only way these kids could expect to have a prom experience without persecution was one I found very troubling and upsetting.

  4. I don’t think her attempting to find some good in the experience is the same as saying it was okay, any more than abuse victims who say they’ve ‘become a stronger person’ as a result of their experiences are saying that those experiences are good. I’m not saying your reading of the statements is invalid, just that I disagree and that it makes me very uncomfortable that anyone would take it that way.

    As an aside, my offline discussions of the incident have mostly left me with the impression that a lot of people can understand excluding a GLBTQI classmate (whether or not they agree with it) but excluding the classmates with LDs is crossing the line from “different” opinions into Just Plain Mean.

  5. Yes, that bothered me, too, particularly since “But people will be mean to you” was my family’s way of saying “Please, please, please, please don’t come out. It’ll be such an embarrassment.” It really grates that this is the only place where I’ve read anyone stating that _all_ of these students were discriminated against and that perhaps the best place to get statements about how the other students felt would be THOSE STUDENTS. Why are these such impossible concepts?

  6. I have one, damn it all.

    People do longitudinal study, correlating misbehavior as children and adolescents with pain in middle age. (Pain as children/adolescents and misbehavior as middle agers were not measured.)

    I think the terms of the study were problematic in themselves, but check the summary line of the pop-science article:

    Children who are irritable or disobedient, or who steal or bully others, are at risk for chronic pain in middle age, a large prospective study found.

  7. I’ve never watched Breaking Bad, and I guess I can’t really convince myself to watch it just for that one reason since I’m into too many other shows now. But I think it’s so, so great that they have an actor with CP playing a character with CP. So I think I will end up watching it eventually.

    I’m not clear on whether the intellectually disabled students were tricked, like Constance was–it doesn’t say that straight out. I guess from the way she talks about it, they probably were. It’s nice that they weren’t made fun of but maybe Constance and her girlfriend would have been made fun of at the regular prom, too. Constance and her girlfriend were obviously okay with that risk, so why couldn’t the intellectually disabled kids make the same calculation if they wanted to?

  8. It’s pretty safe to assume they, too, weren’t invited to the “real” prom.

    I hadn’t noticed until Lauredhel clued me that the focus of the story was on the single abled person being decent to the disabled people, rather than on what the disabled people thought about it. And the implication that they, unlike, the abled person, didn’t notice there were only 8 people at the so-called prom.

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