Monthly Reading List

Monthly Reading List

My favorite articles from September, 2017:

My daughter doesn’t have ‘Special Needs,’ She’s disabled
James Davis Smith, Washington Post - September 28, 2017

There are a few lines here that made me raise my eyebrows, but overall it’s a welcomed endorsement by a parent of a disabled child of the idea that parents of disabled children should notice and listen to the broader disabled community. If nothing else, Mr. Smith capably explains why people are drawn to saying “Special Needs,” and why they should feel comfortable saying “disabled” in stead.

Arresting Disabled Bodies
Sarah Jones, New Republic - September 28, 2017

This is one of the most insightful mainstream magazine articles I have seen on the complex meanings involved when disabled activists like members of ADAPT protest and get arrested. On one level it's quite simple ... people who suffer the most from bad health care policy have good reason to make their protests as aggressive and dramatic as possible. But this writer also gets how ADAPT uses people's ableist assumptions ... especially their paternalism and pity reflex ... to draw attention to more substantive issues like health care, and at the same time contradict the assumption that disabled people are passive and weak.

6 Ways Your Social Justice Activism Might Be Ableist
Carolyn Zaikowski, Everyday Feminism - September 20, 2017

This goes well beyond Disability Prejudice 101. Every item here is a real and specific problem disabled people encounter within progressive culture. But for me, item 5 is the most welcomed observation ... that "policing and enforcing academic rhetoric" can be exclusionary and alienating to people we don't want to exclude or alienate. This is not a whiny, privileged attack on "political correctness." It is a real, internal critique of our excessive use of jargon. To me it also suggests a related problem, in which "academic rhetoric" ends up becoming more important than the ideas and issues it is meant to describe.

The ‘Madman’ Is Back in the Building
Zack McDermott, New York Times - September 20, 2017

This is one of the rare articles on any kind of disability that manages to be gritty and pessimistic, while at the same time somehow liberating and uplifting. It presents a pretty negative view of mental illness ... one that doesn't seem too compatible with the idea of "neurodiversity," or the Social Model of disability. Yet, it doesn’t evoke pity, and it doesn't seem to me to suggest that people who are mentally ill are either dangerous or useless. Mostly the impression is that they are just massively pressured and trying really hard.

I have chronic pain and nothing works for it. I'm afraid I'll be forgotten in the opioid crisis.
Julian Malinack, Vox.com - September 28, 2017

I have to admit that while I think my views about disability in general have improved in the last couple of years, my views on chronic pain have probably gotten worse, mostly because of the opioid crisis. I need to read more articles like this one.