On distinguishing the individual from the system, removing policing from Pride.

Sharing this again, with some thoughts…

blacklivesmatter handpainted sign

Image: dark skinned hands hold up a white sign with thick painted black lettering “BLACK LIVES MATTER”

One of the many things i appreciate about the Black Lives Matter -Vancouver BC open letter to the vancouver pride society and the vancouver police department (specifically thinking about the distinction they make re: individual cops marching in the parade out of uniform vs the cop-float and military presence etc) is that it explicitly recognizes what so many folks either can’t or won’t: that policing is a SYSTEM. That recognizes it’s not about individuals who just happen to be cops like some people just happen to be plumbers and so “what gives you the right to “discriminate” against them?” and “by demanding they not march in the parade aren’t you doing the exact same thing that you claim they’re doing to you??” [pro-tip: no]. That recognizes that yes, like any job there may be individual cops (etc) who aren’t power-hungry abusive asshats while at home bathing their dogs/ watering the plants/ wearing matching pajamas watching a movie with their dear old auntie; but that as *cops* they are an armed and integral part of a violent colonial state system that goes well beyond the individual, that is and always has been seriously messed up, and which is not capable of reform[*].
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That explicit recognition is important. No, not as a way to say “not all cops!”, but as a means to better understand the roles policing plays in our lives whether we want it or not, whether it’s positive or negative or both, the ways it’s woven into our every day experience, the ways we absolutely *must* listen to and take leadership from those folks who are hit the hardest by it, and the incredible amount of work it takes to undo that tangled mess.
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[*Full disclosure: i personally don’t want cops anywhere, ever, uniformed or not; i want policing (etc) as a system and the state it rode in on to be dismantled and burned to the ground.]
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SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER

The Radical Access Mapping Project unequivocally stands behind Black Lives Matter, including the local chapter here in “Vancouver”.
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Accessibility doesn’t mean shit when anti-Black racism means folks can’t get through that beautifully ramped doorway; all the scent-reduced, low cost, non-wifi, fat friendly, captioned, gender neutral, interpreted, etc intention in the world doesn’t make a space, an event, a community, a city, accessible when anti-Black racism shuts out, criminalizes, scapegoats, shames, blames, mocks and violates people when they say that their lives matter.
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It happens time and again, but the realities of Black disabled folks in this city must not be treated as somehow outside of disability activism and community here, as somehow “dividing” or “co-opting” or “hijacking” disability issues by talking about and taking action against racism. There isn’t some line at which “disabled” ends and “Black” begins.
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The Radical Access Mapping Project supports the actions and demands of Black Lives Matter chapters across the country (including but not limited to the actions taken by Black Lives Matter – Toronto regarding this year’s Pride Parade  and beyond); the local chapter here in “Vancouver” in the face of ongoing and increasing racist hostility from within and beyond queer communities; and chapters across and beyond Turtle Island.
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So much respect for the incredible work of Black Lives Matter begun and continued by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi in “response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements”.

i’d encourage fellow disabled and queer non-Black folks to listen, read, watch, be quiet, give space, offer financial and other tangible supports, check ourselves, make the connections, and to remember that none of the stuff done to increase disabled access, to counter ableism structural and otherwise, means shit if at the end of the day we do the racist work of the state for it.
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#blacklivesmatter  #blacklivesmattervancouver
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https://www.facebook.com/blacklivesmattervancouver/
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https://blacklivesmattervancouver.com/
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Note: this is NOT up for debate here, for alternate “opinions”, or commentary about who else matters. Don’t do it here, or find yourself and your commentary blocked.
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Support Black Lives Matter

 

Here are some very tangible ways folks can support upcoming Black Lives Matter – Vancouver work:

Tangible ways to support, from Black Lives Matter – Vancouver

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]

white and yellow text on black background reads:
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SUPPLY LIST
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VIGIL: JULY 10TH, 12.30PM Vancouver Art Gallery

DYKE MARCH: JULY 30TH, 11AM McSpadden Park
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Vigil:
– candles
– snacks
– bottled water
– photography
– chairs
– microphone & sound system
– ASL interpreter (pref. POC)
– sign-making materials
– umbrellas
– active listeners
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Dyke March:
– snacks
– bottled water
– sunscreen
– banners
– sign-making materials
– $$for t-shirts
– a wheelchair
– transportation
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Care Package:
– small toys for children
– school supplies
– letters of kindness and support
– US dollars in cash
– US-redeemable gift vouchers
– $$ for more gifts and shopping
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Donate:
https://www.gofundme.com/fuwbmwqs
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Contact:
blacklivesmattervan@gmail.com
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Logo at bottom: a yellow background with stylized snow capped mountain, bold capitalized “Black Lives Matter Vancouver British Columbia” to the left.
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A sober space/event does not automatically = accessible.

CLICK FOR LINK HERE:
The revolution will not be sober: the problem with notions of “radical sobriety” & “intoxication culture”

i’m not ok with some of this article(*) but overall i think there’s some super important stuff here.

Since it’s specifically brought up here, i’ll mention that i feel neither “radical sobriety” nor this specific piece explore nearly enough for me the piece around drug and alcohol use or sobriety etc as it relates to accessibility (or ableism for that matter), despite spending time talking about it (a bit flimsy and way too cherry-picked for my liking). BUT: i think so-called “radical sobriety” discourse does the most damage by employing it the ways it does.

If you’re going to use access/ accessibility/ etc as a point in your discussions around sobriety or lack thereof, be prepared to deal with it all, not just the parts that you can stuff into a specific box, trimming off the uncomfortable edges. Accessibility cuts across many experiences. Disability movements have been talking about/ dealing with/ living with/ vilifying/ supporting/ everything between and beyond substance use for a really, really long time. We’ve been talking about notions of dependency v independence v interdependence (none of which are actually new ideas) related and unrelated to drug/alcohol use for a long time; we’ve been fighting to have space to medicate as we need to, with whatever we need to, fighting for basic access to those substances ranging from alcohol, various prescription and non-prescription drugs, etc; so much work has been done within disability movements around this stuff, and yet still vilification of drug and alcohol use continue for many of the reasons the article does talk about. The ongoing moralistic nonsense around this stuff doesn’t serve anyone but the very systems “radical” folks claim to be fighting.

Having a sober space/event does not automatically equal accessible, neither does having a non-sober space. Both experiences (and everything between and beyond, because this shit is rarely clearcut) are part of access/ibility. [A side example: i was harshly chastised when i used to go to AA for using Rescue Remedy for my anxiety, because for some its grape seed alcohol base meant i was apparently not actually sober, and that Rescue Remedy was some kind of thin-edge-of-the-wedge that would lead me back to drinking (it hasn’t). And i’ve been chastised by proponents of “radical sobriety” etc for using the prescription drugs i use for my disabilities because they feed “big pharma” (UGH), etc. How is this kind of stuff creating “accessible” spaces/ communities exactly?]

RAMP uses drug/alcohol use etc as an access point in accessibility audits, but not to name sober spaces as somehow inherently accessible. It’s so much more than that, and if you have an event/space which vilifies drug/alcohol users (or which imagines “drug” in one specific, demonized context), you are creating an inaccessible space, full stop. It’s one thing to have specific spaces that are sober (or not sober, or a combination) for specific reasons; it’s another to treat one another as though our personal choices or options around what we do/n’t put in our bodies are hard-wired to be inherently accessible or inaccessible, that one is better or somehow more moral or evolved (UGH) than the other, and that one is more “radical” than the other. i’ve been sober since 2002, and i still say without hesitation: fuck that bullshit.

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* e.g. the flippant stating of there being “no harm to anyone elsein drug/alcohol use. i think the assumption that use automatically brings harm to others, i.e. that harm is inherent in use, that use in itself is harm, is the actual problem.

 

e.g. The article says: “Radical sobriety’ people have named our experiences while high as “inauthentic”. This naming of others experiences employs a colonizing and paternalistic logic, and the same kind of moralism that leads to criminalization and pathologization. Notions of the “right” way to be and the “wrong” way to be are what drive practices of exclusion targeting people who actively use drugs. –but then at the start of this article they write In our experience, drug use can facilitate authentic, compassionate, and emotionally bonded social relationships that are not possible otherwise [my emphasis]— and i think that is a totally unnecessary bullshit generalization.

Mental Health Care as Oppression

This is a fantastic and necessary article. Psychiatry (and any medical practice really) can’t be separated from past and present colonialist racist practice.

Lunacy, Crazy Indians and the Witch’s Hammer:  Mental Health Care as Oppression

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/08/13/lunacy-crazy-indians-and-witchs-hammer-mental-health-care-oppression-161361

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[TL;DR for the comments i make below: having such a diagnosis and having feels about it being critiqued can and must sit alongside the historical and present facts of how it came to be a diagnosis in the first place, who it most impacts, and so on.]
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i’ll be real and share that as someone with ADHD and PTSD, i acknowledge that it’s sometimes hard for me to sit un-defensively with critiques or dismissals of the diagnoses themselves, because what i experience is real, and the benefits i get from ADHD meds are tangible, as it is with medications and therapies for my various other disabilities. Having a certain diagnosis often comes under intense scrutiny and judgement, and sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between a necessary historical accounting of why those diagnoses came to be, who they impact the most, and how fucked up that is, and a critique of the individual with the diagnosis. Does that make sense?
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I.e. The experiences and discomfort can be true alongside critiques of the ways and whys that pharma/ psychiatric industries created those categories, the ways they’re used to control/ contain/ fundamentally change/ erase certain people, including the impacts they had and continue to have on Indigenous communities across Turtle Island and beyond, in every facet of life; and must also sit alongside the truth that as a non-indigenous person on these lands, i have no idea what it’s like to live with the ongoing practices of these fucked up systems, to have those practices be constantly threatening and changing my family structures and experience in combination with the multiple other colonialist impacts occurring, and be expected to be grateful for the change or be further labeled.
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And really, when thinking about it that way, in its historical and current context, and recognizing that it isn’t always about me and my experiences/ body/ ideas, it’s actually not so hard to just sit with it.

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Access theatre

Thoughts on access theatre vs access substance.
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Access isn’t just a collection of things, items, tools, ideas; and it often doesn’t work if you don’t know about or don’t care about what to do with the things, items, tools, ideas.
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If someone hands me a… i don’t know… let’s say some kind of car part… a flingflangin gasket hoohaw or whatever… there’s a real good chance i won’t know what the hell to do with it because i don’t give a crap about cars, have essentially zero knowledge about them (other than that they can apparently hold a lot of clowns, yes? and also that cars are traumatic for me), and so i haven’t taken the time to figure out what the part does or why it might be important. i can make flailing guesses, and some might even be right, and it often doesn’t matter. But if i’m expecting someone else to depend on the decisions i make around that car part, i am going to find out exactly what it is, how it works at its best, and probably enlist some help from folks who know.
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If you have tools/ resources around accessibility but haven’t taken the time to figure out how to use them, sometimes it’s more a hindrance than anything, sometimes it’s a bit of a slap in the face, and sometimes it can be damn right dangerous. Having a ramp that you haven’t secured properly or at the right angle is one example. It’s great that there’s a ramp, fantastic! But if your ramp isn’t properly secured or angled, someone is gonna get fucked up, i guarantee it. Saying your event is scent-free (yay!) when it’s actually scent-reduced (damn) is going to hurt someone and cause them (reasonably) to not feel they can trust you. Saying there won’t be strobe lighting at your show (yay!), then deciding to bust them out anyways (UGH!) is not cool, and it isn’t accessibility in practice.
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It has become access theatre.
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But i want and need access substance. It’s actually not enough to know that something exists in a space. i need to know (either through seeing you in action or otherwise) that you know wtf you’re doing with it, that it will actually be used/ implemented, and that you’re open to getting help with it or receiving feedback about it to help make it actually work.
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Does that make sense?
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what happens when we can’t live interdependency all the time?

i’ll be honest and say that sometimes -OK, often- i don’t think i can live up to interdependency. But i don’t think that’s the point.

As someone who’s lived most of my life as a multiply disabled person, in a poor family as a kid and on government benefits as an adult (and likely for the rest of my life), i’ve had to do a lot for myself while depending on others for a lot too. It’s independence and dependence smushed together out of necessity, not desire or liberation; but maybe that’s interdependence too? It’s not theoretical, it’s tangible; it’s keeping me alive, so why do i so often feel like i have to but can’t live up to someone else’s idea of interdependence?

Interdependency isn’t a new idea. It’s just that most have had it beaten out, ripped away through centuries of colonization and other forms of violence. But people across the globe have been living interdependently for millennia. My family lived interdependently in Glasgow. I was very young, but i remember that in those tenements there was a lot of harsh shit that went down, there was deep generational poverty and abuse; and also there was interdependence. We looked after one another, we shared resources, we asked where so and so was and if she needed anything, and brought meals to her door one way or another because we knew she wouldn’t ask, we hung the washing together, cleaned (and played in!) the midden together, fought intensely in the street against one another and defending one another, we beat back cops together, knit cardigans mittens and hats for the new babies we didn’t even know yet to survive brutal Scottish winters in those barely heated (and sometimes un-heated) stone buildings, we took our shit out on each other, we tried our best to heal together, and mourned together when we just couldn’t manage it and yet another died to a knife or the bottle or a fist.

i know from interdependency. It’s in my DNA, my heart, my gut. i believe in interdependency with everything, i feel it intensely, i believe it’s the only way humans can be together, i believe it’s the only way to liberation… and as someone who doesn’t believe in one-way-or-the-highway answers, that’s saying a lot.

And yet, despite my understanding of the ebb and flow of interdependency, when i go through times when i can’t calm my swirling brain down enough to offer more of a helping hand, when my disabled body is shutting down because i’ve been pushing it too hard too fast too nonstop, i berate myself for not being able to give the kinds of support i want to give, the kinds of support others are sometimes offering me while they go through their own process, the kinds of support plenty of folks say must exist to make interdependency what it is; i believe i’m not living interdependently, that i’m not strong enough, not resilient enough, not selfless enough. not good enough.

And isn’t that just a mindfuck?

If interdependency is in our DNA, what does it mean when we fall out of whack with it? How do we handle the realities of our bodies and minds that need what they need when they need it? What does it mean when i can’t support you in the ways you’re supporting me? Does interdependency mean we do the same for one another at all times, as though there’s even such a thing as “the same” when it comes to this stuff? Is it a gentle ebb and flow? What if my ebb will never match your flow? What if it’s sometimes a torrential downpour and one of us is drowning? What do we do then? Can i live interdependently now while still struggling with the damages done and happening still by so much pushing of dependence/ independence?

And don’t misunderstand me, i don’t think any of this is a problem with interdependency. It’s a problem of acknowledging the intense impacts that notions of dependence, independence, worth and so on have on us, and trying to shift it while still living in a culture that continues to shove that down our throats and punish us whether we fall in line with it or not. That is not easy to do; and sometimes it’s impossible. Maybe interdependency is about acknowledging the super hard shit, being accountable, doing the best we can by one another?

To me, interdependency definitely doesn’t look only one specific way, and it also isn’t theory, it’s practice; and practice can be painful, embarrassing, confusing, alienating, frustrating. But if even just a few of us can be in that kind of mess together and still be good to one another? i think we’re doing pretty well; and i’d take the feelings of inadequacy that sometimes come with it over the alternative any day.

<3
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