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September 3, 2019 | by  | in Token Cripple |
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Disability Pride Week

Okay, your girl is back, refreshed and better than ever. The number of people that messaged me after my last article to ask if I was okay was both embarrassing and touching. Embarrassing that I sounded very sad girl on piano-esque, but touching to find that people actually read Salient and do care about me. Anyway, no regrets—write your truth, babe.

 

On September 16, CanDo is hosting a panel. If you didn’t know, CanDo is the university representative group for disabled students and I (along with some other amazing people) am on the exec. The panel is going to be fucking awesome and you are all cordially invited. We’ve organised it so that it coincides with Disability Pride Week in Aotearoa. As said on their website, Disability Pride Week provides us a chance “to focus on valuing, celebrating and being proud of us as disabled people and what we have to offer. It’s also an opportunity for non-disabled allies to organise events and celebrate with us”. The theme for this year’s event is “Setting the Agenda”. So… what is our agenda? And what the hell is disability pride?

 

Up until basically last year, the thought of hanging out with a group of disabled people made my stomach flip with nerves. I used to have this definitive sense that was not like them (whoever ‘they’ were). I was a determined angsty teenager and I was determinedly going to handle this completely on my own. But here’s the dangerous thing with internalised hate: Every time you are disgusted by disability, and you are disabled, you are slowly chipping away at your own sense of self-worth. And, boy, does this come with a whole MYRIAD of problems that I still deal with today. What I needed was the kind of support that only other disabled people could give me—whether that be bitching about the world, or just knowing that the other person ^gets it^. The first group to give me this support has been disabled activists, and disabled writers. They taught me that disability is social—we are disabled by our environment, not ourselves. They taught me that I am not the only one upset by bad media representation. They taught me that I can be badass ^and disabled. They taught me that I can love and am worthy of love. They taught me that I wasn’t sad because being disabled inherently sucks, I was sad because the world kept telling me that it inherently sucks (mind = blown, man). Ultimately, they lit the passionate fire within me that has both basically eradicated that sadness, and brought me to writing Token Cripple.

 

So how does this have anything to do with our panel? Well, you heard it here first, we’re bringing some of these badass disabled people to Victoria University! From disabled writers to academics, our panel will focus around the kaupapa of disability pride. We’ll be exploring the different ways we think about disability and highlighting that we are all on different stages of this journey. We’ll also be discussing general issues and experiences we have as disabled New Zealanders. Basically, it’s going to be really cool and really important and we REALLY want you ALL to come (disabled and non-disabled alike).

 

I get that this kind of thing is scary when you don’t feel ready to identify with the “disabled” term. I can’t promise that you’ll have an epiphany and go home and start reading every piece of disabled theory that exists. But I can promise that it’s a good step to take.

 

September 16. TTR106. 4:30 p.m.

 

P.S. If you want to be involved in a more hands-on way, we have a little project we’re trying to get up and running also. Email us: can.do.at.vic@gmail.com

 

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