Monday, April 14, 2008

Who Is This Kid You Ask?

Meet Ms. Crip Chick. Many of the people who read this blog and other blogs on Autism Hub will already be familiar with cripchick's weblog, where you can find insight and experience relevant to ableism, racism, sexism, the whole gamut of isms, really. For those who are not readers already, I encourage you to check it out. Here's a sample of her writing, from her "about" page titled "Who Is This Kid You Ask?":
I’m the one that catches your eye in a crowd because of the way I talk, move, breathe…Yes, that one. The disabled girl. No, no, don’t be alarmed! You don’t have to run away or ignore me— I’m not interested in becoming the object of your charity (though I’m sure you have a very loving heart) and I won’t suck you into a conversation about how much my life sucks because actually (and this is a secret a lot of people don’t know,) but a lot of disabled people like their lives! We do have issues and face oppression– no doubt– but many of us don’t consider our disability the problem but rather ableism and a society that refuses to see disabled people as human. Shocker, I know. You can let that one marinate a bit.

Recently, I talked with Ms. Crip Chick about the various ways autistic people view the concept of disability. While there are undoubtedly issues specific to autism, there are also the many issues we have in common with other disability communities--oppression, devaluation, attitudes toward accommodations, the question of who has the right to define who we are and how we are discussed.
Ms. Crip Chick kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her viewpoints, blog and experience. Here are my questions and her responses:

1. One of the things I enjoy most about your writing is the way you explore the different aspects of your identity with respect to the varieties of prejudice that can be visited on a single person. As a self-described “everyday queer disabled Corean girl living in the South,” do you see yourself as having a “master status” or role that defines and puts the other roles in some sort of context?

I don’t think I can put one part of myself over another but I am very aware of how disability specifically impacts the other parts of me. For example, disability directly 100% affects my identity as an APIA/Corean woman of color because my disability has influenced my involvement and acceptance in my local Corean-American community. I think writing this blog has really let me see how much I talk/think/feel disability as it’s something that’s the focus of almost every entry (and theme, and poem, and penname)! At the same time, my relationship with other women of color or my identity as a queer person or as a young person in a movement of older activists also impacts my experience of disability. They’re all so tied together it’s really hard to pull anything a part. Does that make sense? Maybe I do not want to use the word master status because right now there is such an effort to make things into single issues (i.e. the idea that you are either a woman or a person of color, or queer or disabled, not both) and although I feel people see me as disabled before they see me as a woman, queer person or Corean person, I don’t believe my identities can be split apart.

2. What would you say to someone who rightly denounces racism and ableism, but views homosexuality as a moral failing?

This is something that surprises me, although I’m not sure why since so many parts of the Disability Rights Movement are conservative (especially here in the South!) It is so important that we work on community-building and coalition building between communities, especially since there are so many common issues (disabled bodies and queer/trans bodies being medicalized, healthcare/housing/employment discrimination for people of color, queer people, and disabled people, long histories of abuses/sterilization/hate crimes, colonization of our bodies and minds, alienation from communities of faith, lack of representation, issues around identity and “coming out”, etc. …) One thing I really appreciate about Reproductive Justice Movement is that activists take on everything with an intersectional approach. It is the only way to achieve peace AND justice.

3. Has blogging changed your life offline in any significant ways? Is there much intersection between the people who read your blog and those you interact with face to face? Does your mom read your blog?

OH YES, in fact this question inspired a blog post hehe. It’s funny to think how much just keeping a blog has really affected me, especially since I only started in August (8 months ago). I started this blog right after I came home from a congressional internship in D.C. Washington D.C. is considered the home of a lot of the disability leadership and interacting with them allowed me to really start thinking about things, for example, why political leadership and advocacy is the priority for our community, how movements get co-opted and watered down, importance of disability culture in ANY disability-related work, etc. I process things by writing them down so I started it for to flesh these ideas out.

Through this blog, I’ve met so many amazing people who have really…just expanded my personal growth. New friends and old friends have exposed me to new ideas and activism, plugged me in, held my hand when I was upset, etc. I think people view blogging as putting something out there, a one-way dialogue but it’s really about community. It’s not about what you write but the comments and conversations that start afterwards. Blogging is a wonderful medium to connect with people and take part in really active movements and communities (i.e. media justice).

None of my family members read my blog, thankfully. If I was going to quit blogging, it’d be because one of them found it. I’m not out to my family yet (re: queer identity) and though we’re very close, it would be really bad timing to tell them since I live with them and they provide some of my care (and the fact that they’re devout evangelicals). I try somewhat hard to stay anonymous online.

4. I enjoy the poetry on your blog; it is very good writing and often very personal. (My personal favorites are "bras and eggrolls," " the scar," and "Saranghae Umma.") Do you submit your work to magazines, or are you planning a book sometime in the future? Does putting poetry on your blog feel more vulnerable to you than other types of posts? Has anyone ever gotten angry with you for writing about them?

Last week was my first time reading a poem to an audience and I was scared more than I’ve ever been in my life. Before I went up on stage (in front of 1300+ people at a conference), another speaker made a joke about a US poll that says X amount of people are more scared of public speaking than death.. I couldn’t help but think “omgsh, that’s me!!!” lol.

I’m not sure if you can tell with my writing but I’m actually a very new poet as well. I started around the same time I started my blog so I haven’t thought about really submitting anything to an anthology or magazine yet, although I love the idea.

I’ve deleted some posts off my blog, just as I’ve deleted some entries. I think maybe when people respond to poems v. a regular piece, it means more to me because yes, the poems are more personal and it’s comforting to know someone had some kind of connection or shared experience.

I would like to thank Ms. Crip Chick for her thoughtful and thought-provoking responses. Please visit cripchick's weblog to read more. A couple of my favorite posts are here and here.


  1. Thanky, thanky, thanky. A formidable ally, this kid. ;) Lest anyone forget -- or fail to realize -- wherein the roots of our movement lie.

  2. wow excellent post it was thought provoking to see things from a differnt (yet similiar) angle. thanks.

  3. Excellent interview.

    Thanks, Ms. CripChick and Bev!

  4. She's feisty! We need more of that. I think she should mass produce her feisty and sell little kits of it. I would buy at least four.

    Feist! Operators are standing by.

  5. Cripchick wrote:

    "It would be really bad timing to tell them since I live with them and they provide some of my care (and the fact that they’re devout evangelicals)."
    Strange as it may seem, the devout evangelical can be more accepting of the person as we found when one of our nearest and dearest wanted to out to a beloved and devoutly evangelical aunt. The aunt being more Christian than religious didn't have a problem with it. Now , picking your moment is key. In our experience a great time is when the parentals have just arrived from a 12 hour plus flight. Jet lag can be useful and you might get no more than a 'that's nice dear' at least until the ramifications have time to sink in.

    Anyhow, in this parent's eye, the offspring and their dreams and aspirations are what counts.

    Ta Bev, what a great post!

  6. Wonderful! I am going to check out her blog. I enjoyed your interview very much.

  7. Wonderful! I love both your blog and crip chick's blog (you're both on my blogroll, actually).

    Great job. Thanks for posting!

  8. bev, thank you! this was tremendously fun.


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