Category Archives: Ableism

“Doctor I’ve Been Impaled”: Obesity & the Medical Establishment’s Fat Frenzy

Black field, with a red X. White text: Are you among the people who, under late stage capitalism & neocolonialism are just supposed to die? -Emmanations

Fascist Health Care: We only operate on people
who don’t need operations?

A new policy in England, an NHS ban on surgery for people who are obese.

 
And while it isn’t an official policy in the rest of the world, there is a growing movement among doctors to refuse services to fat patients. The refusal to treat people who are overweight is a serious problem even when it isn’t overt public policy.
I’m Fat. I’ve been chunky all my life, and between diabetes and fibromyalgia (which makes exercise very difficult and dangerous), I’ve recently crossed that threshold where doctors don’t just suggest I lose weight, but actively refuse to treat any aspect of my health care needs and make outlandish, dangerous and uninformed suggestions, often starting with the sentence “I’m not a nutritionist, but…” (But then STHU!) If you’re not a nutritionist, giving nutritional advice is very dangerous. If you’re not even going to ask me what I eat, telling me what I should eat is very dangerous.
It’s a safe bet that anyone who is my age (58) has tried every diet, diet pill and diet strategy to the point of self harm. I’ve found a regimen that works for me, that balances my limited strength, finances and dietary needs. Very few people eat a diet as healthy as mine. My partner, Andy lost 80 pounds and has kept it off for over a year, eating almost as healthy as I do. I haven’t lost a pound. I struggle with diabetes and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia makes exercise difficult because it makes me more incapacitated. There is nothing I can do about my weight EXCEPT try a series of extreme and unhealthy practices to attempt to conform to a societal standard that I just can’t achieve.
 
While I am no longer a smoker, my first cigarettes were given to me as samples, handed out on the streets of Philadelphia. I was 13. I don’t know if people should be held responsible for the consequences of addictions they were introduced to by the corporations who manufacture that poison, or how much control people have over addictions. Interestingly, this policy doesn’t extend to alcoholics or drug addicts.
 
This is an ableist death sentence.
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Real revolutionaries:

  • Know it doesn’t just happen in the streets and work to find ways to be fully inclusive
  • Don’t avoid difficult conversations on issues of marginalization: class, racism, sexism, ableism, agism, Palestine, settler colonialism, indigenous rights, antisemitism, Black lives matter, Say her name……
  • Aren’t afraid of complexities
  • Understand that the role of the movement vanguard is to defend the working class, not the other way around.
  • Don’t use “The Party” as a vehicle for abuse, demanding obedience or ostracizing dissident voices.
  • Draw the circle wide
  • Embrace intersectionality
  • Don’t use their social capital to marginalize, abuse and assassinate people and their character, who may be inconvenient, challenging or different
  • Don’t snitch jacket
  • DON’T make accusations without a whole lot of ——EVIDENCE!
  • Don’t avoid evidence when it’s right in front of you, just because the guilty party is your dudbro, homie, movement star, favorite author
  • Invent evidence just because the innocent party said something they didn’t like, made them uncomfortable or demanded greater inclusion and consideration
  • Don’t accumulate people according to identity
  • Don’t play racism, sexism, ableism bingo
  • Don’t avoid class analysis
  • Aren’t afraid to be wrong and can take criticism
  • Constantly take inventory
  • Hold themselves and others accountable
  • Recognize complexities
  • Fight for everyone: Justice not Just us
  • Don’t engage in self promotion at the expense of social justice, the collective benefit and the greater good
  • Use their skills, abilities, entitlements, resources and access for the growth of the movement
  • Don’t derail the discussion with platitudes like “Not all_____”
  • Hold events at venues that are accessible to people with disabilities, children, elders, people without money….
  • Don’t make excuses for exclusions
  • Don’t hold themselves above scrutiny
  • Don’t silence dissent or attack people with new ideas
  • Constantly work on themselves and enhance the movement
  • Give other people credit for group efforts.
  • Make a deep commitment to a place, a time, the group, the movement
  • Understand we are in this for a lifetime
  • Don’t use their identities as an excuse for lack of accountability
  • Don’t disregard their elders or the new generation of activists
  • Don’t use their entitlement as a shield of fragility against real conversations and human lives
  • Don’t play cheerleader for the abusers in the community
  • Support those who have been bullied, abused and maligned for the political expedience of opportunists
  • Call out opportunistic abusive bullies
  • Take difficult positions within the community of activists
  • Engage in grassroots organizing
  • Meet people where they are
  • Put principles before personalities, power and prestige (Opportunism isn’t a principle, it is the antithesis of principle)
  • Build counter cultural alternatives to the state to meet human needs in health care, education, housing, food production, transportation, child care, jobs, community, spirituality
  • Don’t ascribe to new age platitudes and spiritual fascism to blame the victim and dismiss individual and collective narratives
  • Continue to define the work of real revolutionaries, knowing that our work is never done and that a shield protects us against attack and also serves as a mirror for self reflection.

    Add your own, in the comments below!

Diary of a Staycation: Waking up alone

I woke today alone.  It is cooler at Vanessa’s house in South Central, than in Echo Park. The breeze comes through the windows. It’s a bit warm for me, but not too warm. I will cool myself with wet scarves and iced tea which is brewing. My hair is a mess. I am wearing pajamas and a tank top.  I am slow to deal with breakfast or tea. There is no rush, no one else to consider right now. I can focus on craft and growth.

Vanessa had wanted to have coffee (tea) in the morning, but I messaged her to wait a day. I am also in a lot of pain, which is common with the fibromyalgia, especially after packing and moving yesterday. I usually give myself the first day on a trip, just to rest, as well as the first day back.  This systemic pain can be very limiting.

These days, I rarely wake up alone. Aside from my partner Andy, waking up next to me, there are all the guests, my team members, neighbors and the cat in my home, and morning is the most sociable time at our bnb at DragonflyHill Urban Farm. Once the workday has begun, my bedroom turns into a hallway for team members going to and from the laundry room. Since I need to work from bed, we have many bedside meetings. The bathrooms are all shared in our home, shared between guests and team members. I do not have a private bathroom, so just going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’m at work. I check my hair, wear sweats to bed, not pajamas and check myself before leaving the room.  Breakfast is wonderful, as everyone gathers in our dining room, but it is also a daily obligation. It is home, it is family, it is community and it is work.

Image of a crafstman house dining room, with a huge breakfast spread: tea, coffee, eggs, bagels, sausage, fruit, condiments

Breakfast at DragonflyHill Urban Farm

Before DragonflyHill, before Andy, I was dangerously lonely. Loneliness is a huge health issue. It is rampant with so many people suffering from isolation, unable to maintain or find human relationships. Most workplaces are dehumanizing and impersonal and one is expected to be “professional”.  It is safer not to reveal much.  Outside of primary relationships, there is little emotional intimacy, and there are many people who are not in a relationship who are desperately alone. It is especially hard with a significant illness and for single parents, who are not alone, but struggle alone to take care of themselves and their children.  I am not so desperate now. I love my life and the amazing people in it. This for me is a huge miracle. Time alone allows me to reflect on that when I am not caught up in the bubble of “getting it all done”.

Today is wide open. I want to work on an essay that has been in penultimate draft for over a year, and get it out. I also want to update my photography web page. That should be enough for one day.  If I have anything else, I’ll report it later.

Diary of a Staycation #1: New Meditations

Diary of a Staycation #1: New Meditations

My life has changed so much since I started this blog. I’m older, my body is not at cooperative as it used to be, added a few more diagnosis to the mix of my DISabled life. I was terribly lonely when I started this blog. Isolated in suburbia, a single mother on a very limited fixed income, I was dangerously alone. Today I live in community, with very little privacy. A life of abuse, the resulting lack of boundaries, and so many years of isolation and I accept my lack of privacy as a choice and a blessing. We need each other more than we need time alone.  My partner, Andy and I along with an amazing team, including Glenda, Xeres and Carlos, run a modest and wonderful bnb out of our home, as well as provide a variety of community services. (Read more at dragonflyhill.wordpress.com, a web page and blog I also manage.) I handle most of the social media, from our airbnb listing pages, to our blog, twitter, facebook, yelp and google.  I did most of the photography for our advertising and our blog and most of our writing. Guests come from all over to stay with us, and we start every day with a huge community breakfast. We rarely know who will be joining us, including local activists, community members and guests.  Xeres and Andy and I comprise the board of the newly form The WE Empowerment Center (theweempowermentcenter.wordpress.com)

There’s a lot of physical, cognitive and emotional labor that goes into this space and maintaining community.  I haven’t had much time to court my muse, to write creatively or to do fine art photography.  And on the way, I’ve lost pieces of myself.

So today I’m starting. Today I’m taking myself back. Leaving the home business to my capable team, I’m taking a few days off and staying in the bnb of a local airbnb host and dear friend, for a few days of meditation and creativity.

Here are some samples of food for thought and where my mind is wandering, a map of sorts. If you’ve been following me, (and if I don’t know you, please reach out), watch out. I’m going to be posting a lot of new material, much of which has been 90% finished for some time, and has just waited for the time to focus on it, and craft it to perfection.

Music for meditation

Black and white image of a samuri in a forest. The image is very soft and slightly out of focus. Text: A student said to his master: "You teach me fighting, but you talk about peace. How do ou reconcile the two?" The master replies: "It is better to be a warrior in a garden than to be a gardener in a war."

H/T Xeres Villanueva who posted this to her facebook feed.

Inaccessibility Fatigue Rag

7/16/17

I am tired of negotiating my humanity to strangers.

Or trusting friends who just don’t understand.

Of trying to fit my body into spaces that do not accommodate me.

Only to be told how difficult I am to those who fit in, just right.

I am tired of accommodations to fads and fashions, to power and privilege but that DISability access is too demanding, or we did that the last time, we can’t do that EVERY time.
I am tired of loving  a world that doesn’t love me back.

I am tired of patience and desire.

I am tired of betrayal when an apology would be enough—mine or theirs.

I am tired of excuses and abuses.
I am tired of pity and scorn, and entitlement and hatred.

I am tired of the modern versions of the ugly laws and the look of disgust and contempt upon seeing me, by strangers who have no idea who I am.

I am tired of ableist jokes and insults
I am tired of abuse substituted for love, because there are good quiet crrpls and demanding shrews who need to be tamed.
I am tired of character assassinations when their arguments are no match for mine or because they will not be held accountable for their lack of real solidarity.
I am tired of infantilization and being treated like a child.

I am tired of excuses and favors because DISfolx aren’t seen as resources in our own experience.
I am tired of offense taken to be out argued or out spoken by a person like me, uppity, articulate crrpl that I am.

I am tired of having to ask for accommodations only to be treated with hostility for even posing the question.

I am tired of assumptions and accusations of  people who know nothing but think they know everything, like why if I can walk up stairs one day, in one location, why I can’t another day in another location.

I am tired of entitlement of others to define for me the parameters of my reality.

I am tired of people deciding for me what I need, what I should be happy with, what I should like and how I should behave.

I am tired of people who never read a single book on DISability access, schooling me and ‘splaining to me how it’s going to work.

I am tired of people who seem to be allies, only to find out that they were keeping score all along, and anything they did to create access was weighed against my next request. I didn’t know you were keeping a running tab and that I was now in debt to you.
I am tired of pity and stares and stairs.
I am tired of “well no one else complained” or “there were other DISabled people there so it must be accessible.

I am tired of the assumption that if I’m the only one complaining that others must be comfortable when really it means that others may be silent because they don’t feel comfortable speaking up, and some people will harm themselves trying to fit in, and others won’t show up at all because they know the risk in asking.

I am tired of blaming the victim, of disparaging a complaint, of killing the messenger, of the cult of positivity, of silencing dissent.

I am tired of those who don’t need accommodations deciding without even a dialogue what access means.

I am tired of the expectation of gratitude for half a ramp, or one day’s effort or half measures in general.
I am tired of trying to fit into public spaces at all.

Words to Roll By:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • DISability inclusion always, all days,  every way
  • LGBTQIAA affirmative

    Wood or linoleum cut. Black letters on brown and white background. Text: If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. Aboriginal Activist Group

    – Lilla Watson, Aboriginal Activist

  • Gender justice
  • Free Palestine
  • Refugees have right of passage & right of return
  • Antisemitism is racism
  • Fat is a DISability issue
  • The only safe borders are open borders
  • U.S. out of North America (yeah, you read that right)
  • Indigenous rights now
  • Universal human rights
  • Universal humanity
  • Workers’ Rights
  • A woman’s place is in the world
  • Trans sisters are women
  • LOS MARINES NO PASARAN!
  • DIALOGUE MATTERS
  • HONOR THE TREATIES
  • No ban, no Wall!
  • IF IT ISN’T INTERSECTIONAL IT ISN’T CLASS STRUGGLE
  • CLASS STRUGGLE IS KNOWING WHICH SIDE OF THE FENCE YOU ARE ON, CLASS ANALYSIS IS KNOWING WHO IS THERE WITH YOU (anonymous poster c 1970)
  • Decolonize!
  • Socialism the means of production
  • Honor youth
  • Respect your elders!
  • Age in place!
  • No means no!
  • Radical consent!
  • Healing is a community issue.
  • Health care is a human right

    White text on dark blue background over two hands holding each other in a u-shape under text. Text: If you're truly intersectional in your activism and advocacy you're going to make a lot of enemies.

    -Emma Rosenthal

  • No blood for oil
  • No U.S. imperialism
  • Antifa
  • Prison abolition
  • No torture
  • Bullying is bigotry
  • Solidarity not charity
  • Exclusion serves the oppressor. Inclusion serves the struggle
  • Nothing without all of us: Justice not just us.
  • Housing, education, health care are basic human rights
  • Honor the earth
  • physical beauty isn’t a virtue
  • Down with white supremacy
  • Don’t cross a picket line
  • Fight the labor aristocracy
  • Nothing changes without a complaint
  • Never Again
  • Never Again Anyone
  • I remember the Armenian Genocide
  • Jihad means struggle.
  • This is my jihad…

If I left you out, let me know, because none of us is free unless all of us are free.

ANY QUESTIONS? DO YOU HATE ME NOW? UNFRIEND ME UNFOLLOW ME.
Some bridges need to be burned

Resurrecting Assassinated Characters And The Geometry of Inclusion:

If: you are  starting to recognize that ableism an actual real and essential component of white supremacy, capitalism, exploitation,  imperialism, colonization, patriarchy, racism, sexism, cissexism and heterosexism, and that we can’t fight injustice while insisting that access is a personal issue that is the responsibility of the “afflicted”, but is rather, a the collective responsibility of the community, the whole community, every community,

Then:

  • You need to start doing more than simply adding “ableism” to your list of ism, and “DISability” to your list of marginalities.
  • You need to stop bringing in out of town DIS-rights stars to do workshops, instead of local activists who you or the movement has pushed out for so long.
  • You need to stop finding ways to appropriate the work of DISabled activists,
  • And stop using the label “neurodivergent” to justify your abusiveness, (even if it is rooted in PTSD or any other real condition and experience).
  • You need to stop excluding on the basis of who isn’t “cool” enough, or pretty enough for your revolution.
  • You have to make way for wheelchairs and walkers, scooters and canes and give up scented products.
  • You have to include DISfolx in all your planning, and incorporate us into your organization as central resources.
  • You have to have workshops at your events, and you have to attend them!
  • You have to read the work of DISrights activists.
  • You have to give up your supremacist language and attitudes that allowed you to feel entitled toward exclusion in the first place.
  • You need to stop seeing DISfolx as the location of your savior image, your charity case and as central comrades in the struggle.
  • And you have to resurrect the characters you’ve assassinated instead of stepping over our bodies and claim DISability stardom for  your sad self, adding “DISability” and “ableism” to your rhetoric.
  •  You need to publicly make amends to everyone you DISmissed, DISassociated, DIShonored, DISparaged and DIScouraged before YOU DIScovered DISability.
  • You need to account for your tone policing, and your faux-pologies, and your identity baiting and every other sad excuse you had for why it was okay to tell someone their participation was derailing or decentering, or privileged or entitled.
  • Not just sometime.
  • Not just when it’s convenient.
  • Not just until your other REAL IN THE STREETS REVOLUTIONARIES tell you to stop or make it inconvenient.
  • You need to account for the lies, slander, misinformation and DIStortions you employed to silence, isolate and chastise anyone who dared attempt the dialogue, who even asked “Can I get my wheels in the door to this event?”, who commented “When you tell those who agree, to rise, you exclude us, and implicate us in the cohort of the oppressors”, who dared to suggest that strategies and protocols be developed and shared, who attempted to include you in that dialogue only to have you turn against them with your admonitions.
  • You need to resurrect their reputation and bring them back, hold others who maintain this exclusion, accountable.
  • You need to employ a methodology of inclusion and discard the tired old practice of self promotion and exclusion  and movement stars that insists that inclusion means less for those who already have voice, even if it is the seemingly small voice within movements of resistance, especially if it is the seemingly small voice within the struggle.

Because we can’t win against bigotry and hegemony and oppression,  if we are perpetuating it ourselves,we can’t be antifa without all the targets of fascism in the movement, and we can’t win this fight without everyone poised for battle.