JULY: DID YOU EAT YET?

Lime green graphic with thin white textured lines curving and overlapping in the background. There are 8-bit white sparkles and cylindrical rolls with circles in the middle throughout. Black text reads: Did You Eat Yet? 18MR logo is in orange at the bottom right corner.
Graphic collage image of Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, photos of disability justice ancestors, an altar, the cover of The Future is Disabled, and 8-bit speech bubbles. Leah is on the left, a Sri Lankan, Irish, and Galcian nonbinary femme with curly silver teal hair and undercut, and bright purple-pink lipstick. They're smiling. Phone credit Naomi Ishisaka. The photos of disabled activist ancestors bell hooks, Engarcia Figeroa, Oluwatoyin Toyin Salau, are all artwork done by Jen White Johnson. The images are clipped to a cord suspended above an altar table, amidst a linden tree branches and leaves. Original photo credit: Annie Forrest. On the right is the altar photo honoring Lucia Leandro “LL” Gimeno at I wanna be with you everywhere. There are many yellow green and white candles in glasses burning surrounding an image of Lucia, which is drawn by Lordez Velasco. He is wearing a shirt that reads SOLID GOLD CLIT. The altar has a lace tablecloth, big bouquets of flowers and many names and images of beloved disabled ancestors. Original photo credit: Annie Forrest. Black text over bright lime green bubbles reads: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

Hi Friend,

My name is Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and I am the gracelessly aging warrior queer auncle of your dreams. I’m also a writer and longtime disability justice and transformative justice organizer. I’m the author or co-editor of ten books. My latest book documents the last few years of disabled organizing for survival in the triple pandemic and dreams how we’re going to get to a free disabled future. I also write about collective care and disability justice, brown femme disabled poems, and share strategies on accountability beyond the criminal justice system. I still believe in the disabled future – even in the middle of the hell of the present.

Things I am loving right now: the Creative Interventions toolkit workbook, Alice Wong’s cute collab with Umeishio, the Seattle-based Asian grief work of A Resting Place the Mean Scary Femme Appreciation Club sticker on the back of my 07 Honda Fit the writer M Tellez of @cyborgmemoirs makes.

Lime green collage graphic with a collection of book covers, stickers, and news article headlines. Going clockwise: a heart-shaped cut out of two gray striped cat, a square sticker image with Heavily Cyborg on it; orange glass in the shape of orange slices; a black and white static notebook with trans disability symbol on it; a sticker with black text reading My Other Body Is In The Shop; the cover of Disability Justice from A to Z a coloring book for our communities by Sins Invalid feature a person in a wheelchair, a person doing yoga, and flowers; a series of four photos from the Capitol Crawl protest; a screenshot of a news article headline reading: Abled-Bodied Leftists Cannot Abandon Disabled Solidarity to

Well, officially it’s Disability Pride Month to celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act getting signed into law on July 20, 1990. I want to be clear that the ADA didn’t happen because nice abled people decided to help the handicapped. Disabled activists literally crawled up the steps of the US Capitol to show how fucked up the inaccessibility of the world is. We raised hell for years to get the ADA passed. But the ADA is a floor, not a ceiling. It’s meant to provide basic rights, not the liberation we dream of.

What’s the difference between disability rights and disability justice? As Japanese/Haitian DJ movement founder and co-creator of Sins Invalid Patty Berne says, “Disability justice exists in the “cliffhangers” left behind by the disability rights movement.” Disability justice centers the issues and resistance of queer, trans, and BIPOC disabled people, inside and outside the state. Disability rights was and is a majority white movement focused on changing laws and policies.

For a crash course on disability justice, read through these 10 Principles and check out Sins Invalid’s DJ primer while you’re at it. You can use this BIPOC disabled made tool for yourself, your community or organization to reflect on where you’re at understanding and putting disability justice into practice

It’s a weird time to be disabled and alive. On the one hand, there’s so much rad disabled organizing, cultural work, shit to read and read some more. I just got done performing at the I wanna be with you everywhere disability justice performance festival. I was blown away by the care, access, and seamless bringing together of people both in person and online. But at the same time, the world is in a huge fascist eugenics slaughterhouse of attacks on bodily autonomy, disabled voting rights, access to Medicaid and backlash against the “cripping of the world the pandemic brought.

It’s the best of times and the worst of times, but we keep going. As my friend, badass Arab Jewish disabled femme transformative justice worker Shira Hassan said in her book Saving Our Own Lives: “We have to stay in love with each other’s survival at the messy kitchen table of community. “

Lime green graphic with textured white lines and lavender shapes. There is a collage of 2 headshots of people, 2 screenshots, and 3 8-bit style books in black. The first headshot is of Kalaya'an Mendoza from Nonviolent Peaceforce. He is a Filipino person with coiffed black hair. He is wearing a black mask and an orange construction vest with

I am nothing if not a rolodex femme. I am in LOVE with Kalaya’an Mendoza’s work in building community safety. Elliot Fukui’s MadQueer, BEAM, Fireweed Collective and Mirror Memoirs are all incredible spaces by and for survivors and people living with mental health/Madness. Chicago Mask Brigade and Mask Oakland are doing critical work keeping our communities safe by giving away free masks. And Alice was on @humanresourcesnetflix, as herself!

Lime green graphic with white textured lines and lavender shapes in the background. There are 8-bit style sparkles and triangles floating around. It is a collage of screenshots, illustrations, and photos. There are screenshots of slides from IG handle AbolishTime on who profits from ableism. There is an illustration of a diabetic Pakistani woman sitting in a pizza restaurant with a childhood friend She is using a pump to inject some insulin before eating. The friend carries on the conversation while holding a slice of pizza, and is a Pakistani woman with wavy hair, a pink shirt, and high-rise jeans. The woman on the right wears a blue hijab paired with a floral pink dress. Their table is filled with pizza, fries, and fresh-squeezed fruit drinks. From the Disabled and Here free stock image project. Next is a photo of Stacey Park Milbern, a queer Southern Korean working class femme disabled organizer. She is wearing glasses and  has black hair. She's smiling holding a sign that says Cherished. Next is a cut out image of Sky Cubucub. They are a Thai trans person wearing a brightly colored chain mail head piece, blue plastic shades and a bold pink lip they are curling at the camera. They hold a zine entitled “Radical Visibility: A QueerCrip Dress Reform Movement Manifesto.' Their left hand is wrapped in a hot pink metal half glove and their belly is bare above a hot pink and white kilt.

One of my favorites things is the “#StaceyTaughtUs” syllabus of damn near everything Stacey Park MIlbern wrote or did. Alice Wong and I compiled it after Stacey died in 2020. Stacey was a queer Southern Korean working class femme disabled organizer who was a genius at breaking down DJ, and you can learn a lot from her.

Sandy Ho’s essay about growing up as a disabled Asian queer girl sneaking out of the house gave me all the life when I stumbled on it. I can’t wait for Alice Wong’s series on Eater about disabled people and food. Everything is queer, trans, Asian, and disabled. Disabled Parts is a wonderful project about crip sexuality. This reel by Imani Barbarin made me cackle in recognition – don’t miss out on her Tiktoks. And check out these slides by @AbolishTime.

 

Graphic collage of screenshots and book covers. First is a screenshot header from Kinetic Light, a disability arts ensemble. It shows two people facing each other, one with an afro and the other with a pixie cut. It's a soft purple lighting. Next is the cover of Dreaming Different, an audio series by Jezz Chung. The last book cover is of ad World by Micha Frazer-Carroll and shows a graphic of black, blue, and red-orange arrows leaving negative space of a head. There is also a screenshot of dancers with ASL interpretation from Kinetic Light. Half of the graphic is a screenshot of disabled dancers, two in wheelchairs, encircled by waves of green and blue light. There is a third person standing and cradling one of the people in a wheelchair. There are 8-bit style white sparkles. A red-orange header bubble reads Links Up.

Here’s a great place to stay up to date on disabled art and politics. Check out the Don’t Mind If I Do exhibit. Deem Journal and Jezz Chung are releasing their audio series Dreaming Different, exploring the question, “How can we design the future through a neurodivergent lens?” Micha Frazer-Carroll’s Mad World: The Politics of Mental Health is out now from Pluto Press. And you can check out Kinetic Light’s incredible mixed-ability, very queer and Black dance performances here and here.

Lime green graphic with white textures and lavender shapes in the background. There is a collage of photos, an IG post screenshot, and 8-bit style megaphones in black. Left is an iage of four Black and indigenous people leaning into each other and smiling, the person second from the left is Yomi Wrong, a Black and Asian brown skinned woman wearing a pink neck scarf and pink and white print dress and birkenstocks. She is sitting in her power wheelchair. Next is a screenshot of an Instagram post from Shelterwood. Next to that is a screenshot of the Support the TREAT Act. And last is an image of Alice Wong, an East Asian middle aged woman, lying in a hospital bed. Her gaze meets the viewer directly with curiosity and defiance.
 

Thank you for playing! I’m excited for the disabled free future we will make together because and despite everything.

– Leah Lakshmi + Irma, Bianca, Turner, Sharmin, Charlene, Kari, Leyen, and Brenda – the 18MR Team

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed reading our monthly newsletter, would you chip in $5 so we can keep inviting rad guest editors?

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