Sunday, May 24, 2015

Weekly Reading List

Illustration of a stack of books
This is a collection of disability-related articles and blog posts I read last week, but didn’t have a chance to link to or discuss. It’s an opportunity to catch up with some of the good stuff that’s out there, but doesn’t fit neatly into the week's “big stories.”

Here is this week’s reading list:

TEDxSydney - May 21, 2015

Melissa Davey, The Guardian - May 22, 2015

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what happened here, which is why I haven’t written about it until now. From what I can tell, TEDxSydney, one of the loose affiliates of the TED Conference organization, decided to start a rather vague “media campaign” to honor the late Stella Young, the disability activist and all-around awesome woman who came to wider world attention for her TEDxSydney presentation a couple of years ago. It seems like disability activists, including people who loved Stella and her militancy, were upset by a combination of things, including a suggested starter question meant to help non-disabled people break the ice in starting discussions with disabled people, presumably to foster dialog and understanding or something. The question was something like, “Tell me about your disability …”

That question, and the whole tenor of the project, seemed very airy and abstract. Now Stella was an intellectual, so she was well acquainted with philosophies and social theories, but she was also very down-to-earth, businesslike, and very clear that most of disabled peoples’ problems stem from very real, concrete barriers in architecture and policies, not just “attitudes.” I think that’s why so many people got upset. It’s good to see TEDx responding, though the tone of their response seems equally guarded and bureaucratic to me, again lacking any solid point of view that can be pinned down. To be fair, these problems are perhaps to be expected from a TED initiative. TED talks are occasionally amazing, but just as often they are smug, self-congratulatory, and pandering to a certain sort of privileged, progressive, but apolitical audience that likes to feel like having a deep, meaningful conversation is the same thing as doing something. I’m a bit like that myself, but I see it as one of my weaknesses, not a strength.

Smart Ass Cripple - May 22, 2015

Mike Ervin’s take on “overcoming.” His Smart Ass Cripple blog is always worth reading.

s.e. smith, this ain’t liven’ - May 22, 2015

An excellent run-down of the most common ways disability is used, and abused, in literature and popular culture. s.e. smith suggests maybe writers might try a bit more creativity.

Nicole Cobler, San Antonio Express-News - May 19, 2015

Apart from the fact that home care workers are, usually, woefully underpaid, it’s good to see the people they work for fighting for them to be paid more. The problem is that home care users don’t have any real say in wages. It’s usually state Medicaid programs that pay. So the best home care users can do is organize, lobby, and protest their legislatures, as they did this week in Texas.


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