We said we wanted your ideas on two of the articles in the January Mouth. We got them, we're still getting them. Hooray for you all. This dialogue will continue.
One article was a dispatch from Sarah Triano and Laura Obara [#69, page 10] about how discrimination was leveled at them (for being 'Walkie-Talkies') at an ADAPT action. The question posed boils down to, How can we make every part of our movement more inclusive?
Then Josie Byzek wrote, 'What's Wrong with this Picture?' concluding that what is styled as 'nonviolent civil disobedience' at ADAPT and other disability protests is neither nonviolent nor civil. The question there is, Can we choose a path of nonviolence and still change the world?
Nearly all who commented were in agreement with the principles expressed but asked that we not use their names. Sorry but we can't print them. The IRS has told us that publishing unsigned material puts our 501-(c)3 status at risk. We take that risk only when the writer could suffer life- or job-threatening retaliation. In short, if you believe it, sign your name to it.
Loved all the quotes. Really appreciated the reference about including people with cognitive disabilities. I'm a mother who tries real hard not to be a 'smotherer.' I try to smother only fear, ignorance, and segregation.
I guess what I'm most afraid of is the future. If I cannot get 'quality' for
my son when I am ment. Inclusion will make us alive, how will my son get stronger.
Mary Ulrich Salt Lake City, Utah Mason, Ohio
It is not new that groups which fight segregation and discrimination end up discriminating against and ostracizing others, often certain members of their own group.
For example, in the Sixties many straight feminists tried hard to separate themselves from lesbians in the feminist movement. Currently, many advocates of multiculturalism and diversity are resisting the inclusion of disability and sexual orientation in their cause. They argue that including others would dilute the importance of their cause and hard-won rights. Triano warns that the disability movement is not an exception regarding exclusion.
I understand that white, physically disabled activists started the modern disability
rights movement in the U.S. in the Seventies. I have deep respect for them.
As the movement progressed, disabled people with different ethnic and religious
backgrounds and people with different disabilities have joined the movement.
There should be sensitivity for those who are different in the movement. Inclusion
will make us stronger.
Reiko Hayashi Salt Lake City, Utah
Mel White [quoted by Byzek] said, "I thought that nonviolence meant that we don't kill them."
He was right. It does.
A crowd can kill. An angry crowd? That crowd can kill
. I come from college in Jerusalem, Israel. Not far away, there were crowds of angry Arabs who used stones, rocks, concrete blocks. Did those crowds kill? You're damn right they did.
All of the philosophy is only frosting. You cannot use frosting until there's a cake.
You confront your capacity to kill. You get your inner killer under good control.
That's nonviolence? You're damn right. And that's the "cake" to take.
Well, Mel White did get enough nonviolence together to leave people alive.
And that is what most matters, it really does. I prefer his mistakes to the
opposite error. The frosting of philosophy is not really effective all by
itself, not in matters of life and death. He did better with bare cake.
Louise Esther Rothstein
Mouth had all the time been supporting ADAPT 'actions,' and when I complain about their rigid, hierarchical, narrow vision, Lucy has replied, 'But they're all we've got.'
Listen, I was a believer once too. But when I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and I was wrong. That's why I was so pleased to see the fine, thoughtful articles by Josie Byzek and by Sarah Triano and Laura Obara. Right on and thank you for coming forward, being vocal about something which hurts all disabled people. We need a unified movement, not the gangster ideology, where everyone is expected to be apparatchik yes-men.
In Fiddler on the Roof someone asks the rabbi if there is a prayer for the Tzar. The rabbi answers, 'May you keep the Tzar safe and healthy and far away from me!' That's how I've come to feel about ADAPT.
Triano and Obara wanted to be accepted home [at the action], with love. But that is not what they got.
Byzek's article was almost a spiritual work. Gautama the Buddha teaches in the first chapter of the Dhammapada, 'Hate does not cease by hatred; hate ceases only by love; this is an eternal law.'
We need to unify as a movement but not behind a group where undemocratic orders come from above and where diversity of opinion is attacked.
I limp and have been brain damaged. My disabilities, like Triano's, are not always obvious unless I'm walking into a bar wanting a drink. ADAPT's hierarchy (which they deny) has quads at the top and people like Triano, Lucy Mouth and myself never quite earning full citizenship. You can bet your disability check that leadership from someone with an invisible disability will never happen there.
We need a new, gentler, inclusive model for the movement.
Peace, love, and tie dye,
Civil disobedience produces results. Is there another alternative?
I think Byzek asks ADAPT to wear more than one hat. She wants it to push for practical changes, but also to be a philosophical group, a democratic example, a culture organization.
You have to choose whom you care for most: the person with disabilities who, a lot of times, lacks even food and water (you know the neglect) in a nursing home, or the cop whose back may suffer while lifting a wheelchair during a civil disobedience action.
Anger is like the spark that burns the fuel in a car. The spark the anger is neither the fuel, nor the car, nor the driver. If we believe that anger is the main element of our movement, we have not analyzed it enough.
I believe that we need more active organizations such as ADAPT to cover other priorities for our people. Blaming the only one that produces tangible results is easy, especially if your life does not depend on it.
Byzek's piece was courageous. The willingness to say what others are thinking is always risky. I hope it opens discussion.
The last few Mouths, I've been shaking my head. Not because they were too angry or too radical, but because they weren't radical enough. They seemed to be suggesting that if I were more desperate, or more committed, I'd be off at an action that was inaccessible to me, or doing things that are beyond my ability to do. (Right now, my main accomplishment in a day is making a tunafish sandwich if I'm lucky.)
Then there was the wonderful article that promised to blast the DSM, a book that I hate. Only it did it in all the wrong ways, pissing me off instead.
No, Mouth hadn't seemed particularly radical, just pointed in the wrong direction, one that appeared to exclude me and a bunch of other people I know.
When I got this one, I was ready to chuck it on the floor. Fortunately, I didn't.
I'm writing to say, keep getting more radical. Once we've got a movement that includes everyone, that doesn't guilt-trip people into trying to do things they can't do, that doesn't define our worth by superiority over someone else (how many times have I heard, 'I'm disabled from the neck down, not the neck up.' and 'Being disabled isn't being sick.'), that doesn't tell us what to do and expect us to do it, then we'll be truly radical.
Until then, we're just pissed off and frequently misdirected. That harms people. Keep getting more radical.
[Signed] A sick autistic pissed- off crippled nutcase who'd prefer not to be
named but wants to be part of a real disability rights movement,
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