Tears of Shame and Embarrassment

I urge
readers of this blog to visit the American Association of People with
Disabilities site
and read the following first hand account of the signing of
the international treaty on disability rights at the United Nations.  As you may
know from reading our blog, we remain disturbed by the failure of the Bush
administration to sign this remarkable treaty.  Worse perhaps is that the U.S.
didn’t even send a representative to the international ceremony. Read more
here

S.K.

Oh Dave. Thank you.

I am a
lucky poet to have a friend like Dave whose blog Into My Own has published
interviews and reviews of my work.  I
have given him some new poems to post during national poetry month and you can
visit his site and check out his terrific work on behalf of American poetry and
see my small contributions to Pegasus there as well. 

Here’s to
poetry month and to poetry readers and writers across the nation.

Thanks Dave!

S.K.

Disability Blog Carnival # 11

Today I realized that the Disability Blog Carnival # 12 is up and we have yet to introduce # 11.  Steve and I have both been quite busy and we’ve managed to fall behind on our blogging.  We’ve got some catching up to do.

 

Ringmaster_1

Carnival # 11 is dedicated to the topic of "independent  (liberated, free) living" and is hosted by Alexander at howtowheelchair.com

Kuusisto and Mannion: Like Minds

I’m sitting in a coffee shop about to do some work and thought I would log on to this blog to see what my husband had to say about the passing of Kurt Vonnegut.  (See below)

Then I decided to visit Lance’s site because I was sure he too would have something posted by now.  Sure enough.  Take a look at the title he almost gave his post and note the similarity to Steve’s title below.   Vonnegut, Twain, Kuusisto, Mannion….all great minds, don’t you think?

Vonnegut's Heaven

Good-bye Mr. Vonnegut. I know you didn’t believe in heaven, or if you did, it was a place oddly without value, replete with angelic children and old Nazis playing shuffleboard together.  But I believe that heaven is where we point our sails and hence I see you with Mark Twain, the two of you on a veranda overlooking the Hudson river, and you are enjoying the telling of an intricate story, the kind that goes forward like a disreputable wagon train that has been forced out of town by an untoward event that took place at yesterday’s circus and the likes of which the locals had never seen before and which in turn the circus folk will tell again and again, and the story will become variously clouded and ill suited to the demands of memory and that will make it better and better.  I see you both smoking good cigars. I hope you tell Mr. Twain the joke which ends with the punch line: "Hold onto your hats, we could end up miles from here."

Oh, and Mr. Vonegut. Get Twain to tell you once again, and out loud his respective diaries of Adam and Eve.  Ask him to introduce you to them by and by.  They will, I think, look strangely like people from Indiana.  Oh, and say hi to Kin Hubbard and the other free thinkers out there.  Remind them please that us terrestrials will never forget them.

S.K.

You’ll appreciate these posts as well…

Why There Are Any Bluebirds Left I Don’t Know

So It Goes

Ode to Kurt

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

Imus' "hate speech"

Excuse me.  I said a stupid thing.  But I’m really really a good person.  Aren’t we essentially a Christian culture?  Don’t we believe in forgiveness?  Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who called us to observe the better angels of our nature?  Shouldn’t we forgive Don Imus for his remarks concerning the Rutgers Womens’ basketball team?

I don’t think we should forgive Don Imus or anyone else who makes money by ridiculing people who remain socially marginalized in American culture.  I don’t think we should forgive Rush Limbaugh for his hateful remarks about Michael J. Fox.  I don’t think we should forgive Bill O’Reilly or Michael Savage for their loathsome and vicious remarks about Americans who have opposed the war in Iraq.  The hate speech in this country is ubiquitous and ugly and out of control.

Don Imus’s comments concerning the women basketball players at Rutgers are in my view "hate speech" because they spill over into a categorical bell curve of aesthetic acceptability.  Imus argued that the women of Rutgers were "nappy headed ho’s" but then took the next necessary turn toward full blown racism by placing the appearance of the Rutgers players alongside the "cute" women of Tennessee. This is a comparative and associative gesture that fully represents the architecture of racism.  That Imus’s executive producer Bernard whatever his name is chimed in with the word "jigaboo" is merely the icing on the cake.

Don Imus may be a good man who said a stupid thing.  But he said a really really stupid thing.  He engaged in hate speech.

Some white people will say, "well black people talk about themselves this way, so isn’t there a double standard?"

You betcha.

When black people are making equal salaries; when their children are not incarcerated in higher percentages than white children; when we are truly equal in our society, then yes, everything will be merely a question of comedy or rhetoric.

In the meantime there are real lives in the balance.

Don Imus should devote himself to his ranch for kids with cancer.  He should take a course in cultural diversity at Rutgers.

S.K.

See the video response from the Rutger’s team at Shakesville and this thoughtful Your Daughter and Imus post at Blogher.

 

Porcupines

What exactly is disability culture?  Some people believe that having a shared language, as many deaf people who use American Sign Language do, constitutes a shared cultural experience.  Others in the disability community believe that having a culture has to do with a shared vision that people with disabilities will one day enjoy equal opportunity in the United States and around the world.

In the U.S. we tend to talk about culture but we’re often very independent when it comes to our daily lives.  Sometimes I tend to think that there’s a down side to the American idealization of the independent and heroic person who "goes it alone".  We have this John Wayne mentality even in the disability community.  We tend to call this heroic and independent disabled person a "super crip" because this kind of disability activist exemplifies the classic American hero figure’s solo flight to save the planet while everybody else watches. 

When I think about disability and super crip culture I’m inevitably reminded of a story my mother liked to tell about her father.  It seems that one night in August her dad was fed up with the porcupines rocking back and forth in the rocking chairs on the porch of the family’s New Hampshire farmhouse.  So in the middle of the night he stomped outside with his shotgun and took aim and fired in a general direction.  The porcupines were unharmed and like all creatures in such a circumstance, they fled.  They were amazingly fast.

It was 1938 and the family farmhouse was in the middle of nowhere.  The sound of a shotgun raised no alarm.  My grandfather took aim again and missed.

Then he spotted one of the creatures lumbering into the tool shed.  He was beside himself with glee.  He would make an example of one of them, by God!

He took aim inside that shed and managed to hit both the porcupine and a cast iron bean pot. That’s the nature of shotguns of course.  And yes, there was a ricochet effect and my grandfather received a flesh wound on his scalp.

The flesh wound was a minor affair of course.  And the porcupine passed away somewhere in that tool shed.  All was forgotten for a couple of weeks.

Then my grandfather noticed the odor.  The porcupine had died somewhere under the floor of that tool shed.  It was necessary to pull up the floorboards and find the carcass.

And so he pulled up the boards one by one in a hot, airless shack that smelled of dead porcupine.

He didn’t find the creature under the first board, or the second or fifth or eighth plank either.   He had to pull every last board.

This was the cause of family mirth of course.  The man grew faint of pallor and whenever he would emerge for air he would speak in non-sequiturs.  He would say things like: "whittle stick" or "granary rats" and no one knew what he was talking about.

I think that super crip disability culture works along these lines.  My grandfather represents the heroic disabled person who refuses to ask for help.  This is the American self made frontiersman or frontierswoman who will single handedly slay the porcupine or locate the corpse.

If my grandfather had asked for help the porcupine would have been found in half a day.  And if he had asked for initial advice from the community, well, it’s likely that someone would have said that he could easily relocate the rocking chairs to a place beyond the tool shed.  The truth is that the porcupines were the only rockers in that little community.

People with disabilities are quite often trying to relocate the porcupines just as my grandfather did.  Sometimes it’s good to take thought for your local culture.  Ask questions.  Hold your fire. Listen to your community before fighting or fleeing.

And speaking of Disability Culture…

Celebrate Ohio State University's Disability Awareness Month…

…and the 30th Anniversary of Section 504

A message from Scott Lissner, ADA Coordinator at The Ohio State University:

On April 5, 1977, thousands of "the disabled" converged on the offices of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare around the country to demand that the legislation Congress passed 5 years earlier be implemented.  In San Francisco they took over the HEW Office and started what became the longest sit-in occupation of a federal building in U.S. history

At 7:30 A.M. on April 28, 1977 they  celebrated victory.  The rules implementing Section 504 were signed by HEW Secretary Joseph A. Califano.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil-rights provision. It does not provide funding for any programs or activities; rather, it is a requirement that accompanies federal financial assistance to not-for-profit organizations such as schools and universities. Any not-for-profit organization that receives federal grants – for any purpose – must comply with section 504. Section 504 laid the ground work for the ADA.

And thank you to Scott for the following links:

Disability Awareness Month Activities at OSU:

A Look Back at ‘Section 504’: San Francisco Sit-In a Defining Moment

A History: Disability at Ohio State

The 25 Day Siege That Brought Us 504

Disability Studies At OSU

The Section 504 rules: More to the story

The National Council on Disability 2003 report Reviewing the history and current status of section 504

FAME: