How Can I Help? Some Ideas #NoBanNoWall

If you’re wondering what to do or how to help

Collect yourself. I found this Nervous Wreck’s Disabled Guide to Stepping Up helpful. You might too.

What does your community need? Ask your local Mosque or Islamic Centre if they need support.

Consider asking your favourite shops if they’ll show their support with window signs.

Write or call your Member of Parliament

How to find your Member of Parliament

  • Please cc Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party), Leader of the Official Opposition Rona Ambrose (Conservative Party), Thomas Mulcair (NDP), Elizabeth May (Green Party), Rhéal Fortin (Bloc Québécois).

Here’s a sample letter you can use.

  • Personalized letters are better, or letters from children in your life.

Here’s a sample phone script.

  • Letters are better than using social media. Your MP is obligated to respond to a letter.
  • Writing to the House of Commons doesn’t need a stamp, but if you can afford the stamp, write to their constituency office too – that’s the local office.
  • Focus on writing to your own MP. They pay more attention to their own riding.

Join a Protest or Vigil

Note of Caution: Many protests are coming together very quickly, without the time to organize accessibility. If you plan to go please keep this in mind, dress for winter, and bring a friend.

A list of events planned so far, put together by Women’s March Canada.

If you see racism or Islamophobia, and feel safe calling it out, call it out.

Also, self-care, self-care, self-care.

Have a suggestion for this list? Leave a comment below.

#NoBanNoWall #StrongerTogether

Disabled People have better stories to tell

My proposed line-up of disability-themed movies:

  • A group of crip sisters sharing stories of their struggles through the years, and how their crip sisterhood helped them through it.
  • Maybe those crip sisters are on a spaceship, as part of a rebellion.
  • Two young disabled people from divided houses fall in love. In an act of rebellion against family pressure, they don’t kill themselves, but instead start a family of their own.
  • A disability activist searches for meaning in their own life while fighting for safeguards in assisted suicide laws.
  • A group of disabled/Mad friends go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. They wake up the next morning to discover one of their friends is missing, and encounter various shenanigans while looking for them.

Ok so maybe I should stick with writing blogs, but I still think these films would be better than what’s on the table.  See this review of Me Before You if you’re not sure what I’m referring to here.

We know why ableist films and messages continue to spread, as do sexism, racism, and homophobia.

We have a responsibility to call out these stories, so that their toxic messages do not spread.

I’ve been seeing posts and messages that “it’s just one story” or “they don’t mean you”, but I think those posts miss the point.

I grew up in an area without many other disabled people. I had no disabled role models until I left home. Despite the privileges of being a white, middle class kid, I grew up with a lot of discrimination, but I didn’t know that’s what it was. I thought it was me, that I was broken. I was surrounded by sometimes well-meaning able-bodied people who saw my disabledness as something to mourn, or to mould into something more acceptable. They didn’t have better stories either.

Ableist stories were all I had until my twenties. Yes, I’m still here, but they’re woven into my formation, that’s just how it is.

Growing up in that environment still impacts me, some days I still feel broken. Some days ableist attitudes from others convince me for a time that I don’t belong, that I am less of a person.

I am fortunate now, that I have a strong community of disabled folks around me, but not everyone does.

Ableist stories and messages might not impact all of us equally, but they do cause harm.

We need to tell our own stories. We need less suicide and more solidarity.

Preferably with rebel forces on space cruisers.

Life, death, dignity, and the state

Originally posted at Socialist.ca

Note: Since this article was originally posted April 13th, the text of Bill C-14 has since been released. It is still in it’s preliminary form, and will likely change before it becomes law.

The right to choose when and how we die, on its surface, may seem like something the government has no business deciding. Perhaps that’s why the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law prohibiting physician-assisted death in 2015. Effective June 6, physician-assisted death will be a funded part of Medicare across Canada. The federal government has until that date to decide just what should be funded, and under what circumstances.

The choice to live or die may seem liberating to some, but that choice is also somewhat of an illusion—layered with the familiar trappings of capitalism and oppression. In a country where poverty, gender roles, austerity and discrimination are a daily aspect of people’s lives, a state-approved right to die may sound more like a quiet suggestion than a mere option.

As the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) state in the opening paragraph in their Submission to Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying, “the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter emphasized that there needs to be a balanced system that both enables access by patients to physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia (PAD/VE), and protects persons who are vulnerable and may be induced to commit suicide.” The CCD Submission also stated risk factors for suicide included socio-economic factors, race, ethnicity, and culture, or onset of physical disability.

As Toronto Star reporter Thomas Walkom wrote in a recent article, “All of this might make eminent sense in a world where everyone (including every teenager) was rational, where physicians were all-seeing, where family members always had one another’s interests at heart and where the old, sick and disabled were not viewed as social burdens.”

Truthfully, assisted deaths have been a quiet occurrence in this country for a long time, but now that such deaths are permitted by the state, it’s necessary to consider the role government has in these decisions.

Quebec has consulted with the public since the Carter case began, and has since come out with Bill 52—which is quite narrow in scope. The Ontario government so far has made a number of recommendations without appearing to consider the research. The federal government however, is making some interesting decisions. First, it took power away from the existing federal committee to make any recommendations, then appointed its own committee made up of MPs and Senators. According to a recent article by the Globe and Mail “The majority of the parliamentary committee seeks to expand the criteria for physician-assisted death way beyond what was required by Carter or Bill 52. It includes mental-health conditions and all other disabilities, including developmental disabilities, autism, acquired brain injuries, fetal alcohol syndrome, not to mention blindness and deafness.”

So how do we as activists fit in to these unfolding events? While respect for the personal choice of individuals is important, it is equally important to consider the context of those decisions, and for whom laws get made. As the federal government and mainstream movements continue to waffle on the subject of oppression, it is up to us to continue to highlight oppression and discrimination to the forefront. The right to die can never be equitable without the right to live with dignity.

If you’d like to hear more on this topic, please join us for the Disability Rights and Physician Assisted Suicide Panel on Saturday April 23rd as part of Ideas for Real Change: Marxism 2016.

Note: There is a call for a Vulnerable Persons Standard. It addresses some of this issues, but without the context of ableism and other forms of oppression. The writers of this standard are currently looking for signatures.

Have Cane, Will Strut: Black Disabled Woman

Too good not to share, from SlowWalkersSeeMore

Slow Walkers See More

As a disabled Black woman born with a neuromuscular disability, I’m often asked “what are you?” and “what happened to you?” You know when you “appear” racially-ambiguous folks need to figure out how to categorize while casting a slight side-eye or sometimes smizing out of curiosity.  Tis a funny thing to be straight-faced *giggles* with a not-so-straight gait.

Oh how they wait for the reply with eyes growing wide while dining on lines to describe your biology while scanning the expanse of your anatomy. The need to place you in a category and define who you will be, nothing in their frame of reference culled from mainstream imagery.

Let me tell you…

I’m a wool fedora pulled forward. I’m a calm struggle whose cadence is complicated. Staccato-strutting through life cracked, whole, complete with each clickety-clack of my cane tapping down the street. And my effort and pace solidifies occupancy of space…

View original post 167 more words

How We Teach Disabled People to Secretly Hate Themselves

This is amazing,and encapsulates so much of what I feel about where I am in life right now. The ongoing struggle to unlearn all we were taught.

Any message that tells us we are less valuable humans because of our ability, race, gender, gender identity, or sexuality is an act of violence, even when we enact it upon ourselves.

Content Warning: Internalized ableism, pregnancy/child loss

Reposted from https://unstrangemind.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/how-we-teach-disabled-people-to-secretly-hate-themselves/ 

Because we’re not (Why I changed the name of my blog)

  • Because too many progressive activists have been called a b-tch for speaking truth.
  • Because that word has been used to silence, to teach women and girls not to make waves.
  • It has also been used against progressives who speak out against the flaws in mainstream movements.
  • Our dignity is not lost in our impairments, gender, sexuality, age, culture or skin colour, but in the oppressive norms and hierarchies our lives are measured against.
  • One word is not nearly as powerful as common struggle.

Comments and suggestions welcome.

Strange Situations – June addition

Between the double-takes in office buildings and people who think they’re “helping” when trying to push my wheelchair without asking, there’s a few amusing/uncomfortable stories that come up. These are real interactions I’ve had, just in the month of June 2015. Aside from the last one, none of these situations involved people who seemed as though they might be impaired in any way.

The Streetlight Guy

I’m waiting for the pedestrian light to say walk so I can cross. I’m looking at the light, just waiting on a nice clear sunny day when a man with his dog, standing a few feet away yells out “I’ll let you know when the sign says walk!”

I look directly at him and say “That’s ok, I’m fine, thank you”

As I’m just about to cross he shouts “It says walk now!”

As far as I can tell, he genuinely thought I couldn’t sort this out on my own unless other people were crossing. I guess that’s how you fail a pay it forward.

 

The Subway Guy

Sometimes when I can’t find an accessible space on the subway I’ll park right up to some empty seats, where there’s a lot of room around me and lots of other seats. People don’t try to sit there, because I’m out of my way and there’s space, so I read my book in peace. Except for this day.

I’m reading my book on the subway and I’m about halfway home when I notice someone staring at me. I look to my right, and notice a man sitting in the seat I’m parked up against. Again, there’s lots of other seats and space, but this guy chooses the one seat with so little space he has to tuck his feet under the seat, which is strange, but the fact that he’s staring at me with a grin on his face is weird. I decide not to draw attention to the situation, stay put, and go back to my book.

A few minutes go by, and then I feel someone poke me in the shoulder with their finger. I look up, and it’s the same guy.

He says “I’m sorry, I was just curious. How’s it going?”

What?! Personal space, it’s a thing, chair or no chair.

The College Cat-Callers

Last but not least, there is no good cat-call EVER, but those guys who whistled and shouted “Hey hot wheels” at around midnight one Saturday; I appreciate the diversity, but it’s no less creepy, sad, and sexist when compared to the next cat-call. Also, a fourteen year old boy thought that one up decades before you.

Just don’t do it.

That’s it for June. I wonder what July will turn up.