Weekly Reading List

Two shelves of multicolored books

Last week's best disability reading, presented a day later than usual!

Bevin vetoes $400,000 for the disabled
Scott Hartman, Cincinnati.com - April 28, 2016

Gov. Bevin’s statement about vetoing funds for developmental disability agencies is about 1 fifth correct, and 4 fifths crap. There is some truth in the idea that it’s good for non-profit organizations to go after sources of money other than the government. Diversified funding makes an organization stronger and more financially resilient. It can also help foster greater independence. An organization with a bunch of different funding streams has more freedom to take controversial advocacy positions, because no single funder has the power to punish with the purse. On the other hand, the endless dash for cash can and often does lead organizations to forget their core missions, and craft their programs to reflect what funding agencies and foundations want to see, instead of what the organization itself wants to do. And of course, it’s truly Orwellian Doublespeak for a state governor to suggest that a budget cut is actually a good thing for non-profits.

Jillian Mercado made it as a model with a disability. Here’s what she wants next.
Caitlin Gibson, Washington Post - April 28, 2016

I was really happy to read Caitlin Gibson’s article on Jillian Mercado, because it helped answer a nagging question I’ve had since I first heard about Jillian’s modeling career … Is someone paying attention to the messages all of this is sending? It seems like Jillian is paying attention, which is the best possible answer. She seems to know all of the ways that good things … like a disabled woman succeeding in the modeling industry … can convey not-so-good messages if nobody bothers to be careful about it. Jillian is careful, and obviously knowledgeable enough to negotiate and direct her own messaging. We can all learn from her, especially those of us attempting to say something consistent and public in our work.

Glass Ceiling Cripples
Smart Ass Cripple - May 1, 2016

This takes nothing away from those of us who get noticed as faces and voices of disability, but I do agree it's worth remembering that the condition of the "floor" for disabled people is probably more important than how high the "ceiling" is, or whether we can break through it. And of course, Smart Ass Cripple says in a much cooler way than I can.

How Bad Is Gary Owen’s Comedy Routine on Showtime?
John Franklin Stevens, Huffpost Impact - April 26, 2016

The exact contents of the comedy routine matter less to me than the quality of the argument. It's so easy for people to reject any show of concern about offensive comedy as humorlessness, or as an attempt to censor an artist. As Mr. Stevens points out, criticism isn't censorship, and being publicly criticized doesn't make a thing high art, either. At some point, comedians are going to have to come to terms with the fact that audiences' tastes change. Fewer people are going to enjoy laughing at disabled people, and for every one person who tries to shut a comedian down with a petition, there are probably hundreds more who just scoff, move on, and decide the person is a crap comedian. I feel like that's the really important thing happening with this kind of comedy ... it's not just offensive, it's incredibly hacky, and that's deadly for comedy.

Uber's services for the disabled lack actual cars
Heather Kelly, CNN Money - May 2, 2016

Uber has a track record of bad citizenship in regard to serving people with disabilities. The company spent a lot of time studiously and explicitly refusing to do anything about drivers who just plain didn't want to deal with disabled passengers. That said, i think that some sort of Uber-like service may be an important component of accessible transportation for disabled people in the near future. When I was in Independent Living, I tried a couple of times to generate interest in recruiting disabled people who owned their own accessible vehicles to provide individual rides to disabled people who didn't. Insurance and a certain amount of generalized apprehension was the main obstacle. But a known entity like Uber ought to be able to make the process simpler and more secure for potential drivers with accessible vehicles. It might even help more disabled people finance the purchase of accessible vehicles. It seems like a good idea, but it all comes down to the math, I suppose, which will either add up, or not.