Weekly Reading List

Illustration of two shelves of multicolored books

It’s been awhile since I did one of these. I’ll try to get back into a weekly routine.

More elite athletes who are disabled should use their platform to promote social awareness
Brett Smith, Business Insider - September 9, 2016

Within this article about disabled athletes and their feelings about disability activism, there's a good overview of the variety of responses disabled people in general have to "disability issues."  It underscores the fact that it's quite common for at least some disabled people to live sheltered, even privileged lives. This can then give them a distorted perception of what the disability experience is actually like for most disabled people. That, in turn, allows the more optimistic and / or apolitical among us to view disability activism as unnecessary and even distasteful. I write here from experience as well as from this article.

Why Won’t They Let Me Swim? A Bendy’s Guide to the Paralympic Eligibility Problem
Sam de Leve, Medium - September 12, 2016

This is an incredibly detailed look at how athletes with disabilities are classified in Paralympic sports to make competition as fair and comparable as possible ... and how the system systematically fails entire subsections of the disability community. It's very technical, but Sam makes it readable and understandable. Best of all, they do something that to me is relatively rare in disability activist writing. Sam powerfully asserts that something is wrong, but doesn't claim to know exactly how it should be fixed. Even if you're not interested in the controversy, Sam's explanations help add context to any Paralympics viewing you might have done, or might do via highlight clips on YouTube or other streaming video.

Teen Makes ‘Sit With Us’ App That Helps Students Find Lunch Buddies
Elyse Wanshel, Huffington Post - September 12, 2016

I think this is a good idea. I say I think, because it's a particular kind of practical solution to a social problem ... a technical workaround that doesn't necessarily confront the root of the problem. The thing is, it's easy as an adult disability activist to want to focus on confronting the systemic ableism of the lunchroom, while sidestepping the day to day question actual disabled students face ... who can I sit with? Of course, sometimes systemic social problems can be lessened by indirect action ... by, for instance, disabled and other marginalized students using an app to locate students who will be receptive to them. There's a risk of self-absorbed do-gooding, too, since the app relies on non-marginalized students consciously reaching out. But having faced the lunchroom dilemma myself, I think it's worth the risk. Plus, there's no reason why marginalized students can't take control of the app themselves, and use it to create their own lunchroom communities.

Stunning photos capture the life of a mum with muscular dystrophy
Ellen Scott, Metro UK - September 7, 2016

Someone on Facebook asked how this story is any different from what we call "Inspiration Porn." It's a good question, and I answered this way: 1. She's a conscious participant in crafting the presentation about herself. 2. It has a subtle, muted approach, not loud, obvious, blaring. 3. The theme is about a disabled person living her choices and happy with them. 4. It doesn't spell out a moral betterment message primarily for non-disabled people. 5. It doesn't glorify the kindness of non-disabled people. So in some ways, "Inspiration Porn" is a matter of taste and style, as well as who and what is centered in a story. In other words, "Inspiration Porn" is more than just stories of disabled people with a positive feel. Or, maybe it's just disability stories any given reader with disabilities happens to like or dislike instinctively.

Telling Myself the Truth: 5 Strategies for Fighting Internalized Ableism
Carrie, Autostraddle - September 19, 2016

It seems like the advice here is that dealing with internalized ableism requires a lot of homework. I'm not sure whether this is hopeful or discouraging. It suggests that disability pride isn't something you can just discover spontaneously. On the other hand, at least there are things we can do about it that will make a difference in how we feel about being disabled.