A new summer show favorite has been CLAWS, which features the incredible Niecy Nash as Desna, a woman who has big dreams of owning a high-end salon and caring for those she loves. A surprise in the series is the character Dean, who is autistic and Desna’s brother. Dean is a complex character, mainly due to the fact that the portrayal is a cripping up one; Dean is played by Harold Perrineau.
I had hoped that someone would write about this conflict, and Monique Jones gave her perspective earlier this week. I wanted to boost the thoughts of someone who’s Black and autistic on the blog, and am gracious Monique gave me permission to cross-post her article on RYV!
Screenshot of the title of the video: “Thoughts You Have While Dating In A Wheelchair” (BuzzFeed)
Buzzfeed is known for creating videos about diverse life experiences, and it has recently produced one that I can wholeheartedly relate to. The video is “Thoughts You Have While Dating In A Wheelchair” that features vlogger Lolo. Lolo’s performance spoke deeply to my spirit. It was the first time I saw a Black disabled woman talk about dating in such a way that resonated with my own experiences. In her role, Lolo brought the funny with her “heels or boots?” question and gushing about how her date was so strong when helping her in the Uber. The thoughts and concerns Lolo portrayed are ones that were too realistic – I could not stop laughing at the truth gems dropped in the video.
I reached out to Lolo because I had to know who she was, and I am grateful that she afforded me the pleasure of interviewing her for the blog. In the following interview, Lolo shared with me about how she got the role, why doing this video was important to her, and her ambitions as a disabled vlogger.
Without further ado, here is Lolo, in all of her Black disabled girl magic glory:
Social media was abuzz with shock earlier this week when we learned that the critically acclaimed show Underground was canceled on WGN America after two seasons. I was incredibly upset that this dynamic show and its compelling depiction of slavery would no longer be returning for a rightfully earned third season.
Today is the hashtagversary (hashtag anniversary) of #DisabilityTooWhite. I cannot believe it has been a year since the hashtag went viral, and how it changed my life and the dialogue in the community.
It still astounds me that something I created from an impassioned reaction to an article stirred up so much conversation and controversy. The hashtag forced me, and others, to discuss the elephant in the room – the racism, invisibility, erasure, lack of representation, and othering of disabled people of color. Our community can no longer feign that we do not recognize the inequality that exists within; the hashtag has the “receipts” of the injustices enacted on those of us multiple-marginalized. The hashtag allowed people to understand that they are not alone in how they have been mistreated, abused, and ostracized in the community. That realization validated their feelings and experiences, which was a powerful confirmation so many received.
I owe my health and ability to live in this disabled body to Medicaid. It is the social program that is will be under attack if the Senate accumulates enough votes for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The AHCA is the replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. There are provisions within the AHCA that will impact those of us with pre-existing conditions and/or utilize Medicaid.
The disabled community, including myself, have been very vocal as to the harm the AHCA could cause for us. I’ve taken part in discussing my own story & urging our Senators to vote “no” by using the #IAmAPreexistingCondition hashtag, and being interviewed by Al-Jazeera along with other advocates about the bill (click to view Part I and Part II).
I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Center for Disability Rights this month that outlines why Medicaid matters so much to me, and why the AHCA would be dangerous for my people. We need more disabled voices proclaiming that healthcare is a human right that should not be deemed as an optional circumstance to acquire.
I took a hiatus this month from blogging to prepare and attend the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) conference in National Harbor, Maryland. It was the first time I attended the conference, as well as presented about #DisabilityTooWhite to my social work colleagues. I was ecstatic to attend a conference where I would be surrounded by melanin, and it was the spiritual and emotional rejuvenation I needed.
Photo of Keah Brown, a brown skinned young Black woman. Keah is looking directly into the camera and smiling. She has her hair straighten and parted to the side, and wearing a white, red, and denim colored sweater.
One of the reasons I wanted to do this series was to capture the diverse lives of Black disabled women. Very few spaces have given us the opportunity to discuss what it is like to be a triple minority, much less by someone who possess those same identities. Providing an environment where people can be candid about the obstacles they face while navigating the world and embracing who they are is an important part of my advocacy work.
Keah Brown is a 25-years old entertainment journalist, writer, and essayist from Western New York. She recently created the #disabledandcute hashtag that went viral in February. This hashtag allowed disabled people to proclaim and display the diverse beauty that exists in our community. Keah is a dynamic writer and friend, and her presence in the community cannot be ignored.
Here is Keah in her own words about learning to accept herself and using her work to empower other Black disabled women:
Photo of Kerima Cevik, a brown-skinned Black woman. Kerima is facing away from the camera, with her beautiful gray hair covering her face. She is leaning against window blinds, with the light from the window softly hitting her face.
It is so important for Black disabled women to have a village – a group of individuals who understand her fully. A group of uplifters, motivators, and truth sayers who will give you gems of knowledge and love when times go dark. These women will understand your frustrations in ways that many do not and cannot You will never have to “prove” why something hurts because they will automatically know why – they have been through it too. Becoming an advocate has allowed me to build a dynamic village of disabled women, particularly Black disabled women, who hold me down and will empower me when my spirit is running on E.
One of those women is Kerima Cevik, a disabled mother, writer and blogger that resides in Washington, D.C. Kerima was one of the first Black women I found who has written about historical Black disabled people. She has inspired me to do the same, as seen when I feature disabled Black people whose stories are left out of the history books. Kerima’s interview is a powerful read, so much so that my heart was overwhelmed at the truth gems she dropped for this series.
Without further ado, here is Kerima, in all her unapologetic and fierceness being:
Image of Heather Watkins, light-skinned Black woman who is standing in front of a off-white colored door. Heather is smiling directly to the camera, and is wearing a black-and-white multi-striped top with black pants. Heather has her hands placed on her hips, which are in a relaxed pose.
As we continue with the #BlackDisabledGirlMagic series, we have seen the various perspectives about the lives Black disabled women live and our worth shared in our own words. If you have noticed, I have asked each woman the same questions; this was purposeful. Though we all share the same identities of being Black, disabled, and women, we exist and interact in this world from different lens. Those differences are influenced by our upbringings, disabilities, ages, geographical location, educational and professional backgrounds, and so forth. Black disabled women are not a monolith, and that is what I wanted to highlight during Women’s History Month. We may encounter similar battles, but our views on life, our bodies, and survival are greatly individualized, as it is for everyone else.
Heather Watkins is a blogger, disabled mother, community leader, and dear friend that reside in Boston, Massachusetts. Heather has become an older sister to me and was one of the first Black disabled advocates I befriended. Heather’s voice in the community is important because of her life experiences and ability to see people beyond the surface.
I am honored to share Heather’s words and life outlooks with you all:
Image of Kathy D. Woods, a Black little woman. Kathy is outside and standing in front of a white building. Kathy is wearing a red-orange snakeskin-printed dress with black dress shoes. Kathy is smiling directly into the camera.
Fashion and feeling good in the clothes you wear are important, and for some disabled women, it can be a challenge to find apparel that fits your body type and shape. Luckily, clothing lines are recognizing that disabled women (and disabled people in general) are an overlooked consumer market, and are designing clothes that makes us feel comfortable and confident.
Kathy D. Woods has taken this one step further by becoming a designer that targets little women like herself by establishing her self-titled Collection brand: Kathy D. Woods. Kathy resides in Santa Clarita, California, and has received national attention for her brand and the work she is doing to allow disabled women to feel fierce and dynamic as they conquer the world.
Black History Month 2019: Black, Disabled, & Into Alternative Spiritual Practices February 27, 2019 Vilissa Thompson, LMSW
When life shakes us at our core, we long to find something to ground us again. For me, that grounding has come in the form of expanding my spirituality after the death of my beloved Grandmother on Christmas Eve of 2015. I have always been spiritual; being raised Baptist by her (though I don’t claim ...
Planners & Disability: When Two Worlds Collide Effortlessly December 16, 2018 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWMy fondness for all things stationery began as a child. Pens, notebooks, journals, stickers, markers – you name it, I loved it. Lisa Frank everything – had to have it. At the height of the gel pens hype, I had all sorts of notebooks that allowed my friends to write notes to me with metallic ...
The Harriet Tubman Casting Cripping Up Issue September 20, 2018 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWOver the past week, I have watched and listened to several conversations on Twitter about the casting uproar for the Harriet Tubman film.
Yet no one mentioned the obvious issue: a Black disabled actress is not playing a Black disabled historical figure.
An issue I run into within Black history and in the portrayals of ...
Aunt Vi, #QueenSugar, Black Women, & Our Disabled Bodies: Why We’re Still Whole June 7, 2018 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWIf you haven’t watched the show “Queen Sugar,” I don’t know what you’re doing with your life.
The new season premiered on OWN last week, and the series is spearheaded by the talented Ava DuVernay.
In this season, one of the beloved characters, Aunt Vi, has an illness that is a part of her character story. It ...
Why Black Disability History Matters February 27, 2018 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWFor the past few years on the blog, I have featured the stories and activism of Black disabled figures who are unsung heroes during Black History Month. I began doing this because I did not want our experiences as Black disabled people to be overlooked since that has occurred for far too long. If we ...
2/28/2018 Black Disability History Twitter Chat February 23, 2018 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWFor Black History Month, I am honored to co-host a #BlackDisabilityHistory Twitter chat with members of my community. If you have been following the blog for awhile, you know that February is special to me in amplifying the visibility and accomplishments of Black disabled people during Black History Month. This Twitter chat is another means ...
My 2017 Was Lit!: Year in Reflection December 31, 2017 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWToday is the last day of 2017, and as I reflect, I am amazed at all I have experienced.
This was the year where all of my hard work has come to life, with so many collaborations, interviews, and awesome people I have encountered.
Even the small hiccups did not derail me – I believe ...
Tackling Inaccessibility in Seattle & NYC: My Travels on 4 Wheels September 30, 2017 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWThis month has been full of so many phenomenal things. September is a special time for me for two reasons: my birthday and the start of autumn.
For both my birthday and the season changing, I was bi-coastal – I spent the first full week in celebrating year 32 in Seattle and then set off ...
New Things On the Horizon August 31, 2017 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWThe blog has been quiet for awhile, and that is due to all that I have been getting into recently.
First is the new adventure I am on – I am the co-host of the Wheelin’ & Dealin’ podcast, which made its debut on the CSPN network last week. This podcast is politically-focused, and I am ...
4 Years Going Strong: RYV! Anniversary Reflection July 19, 2017 Vilissa Thompson, LMSWToday marks the fourth anniversary of Ramp Your Voice! The past year has been filled with so many opportunities, connections, partnerships, and articles that has resonated with individuals within and outside of the disabled community.
As Ramp Your Voice! matures, I also mature, particularly for my vision and the impact I want to make with ...