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Day 3: Ujima, Disabled-ly

Day 3: Ujima, Disabled-ly

I say: Habari Gani! What’s the news!

You say: Ujima!

Ujima is the third day of Kwanzaa.  It means “collective work and responsibility.” You can read more about it here. I think the disabled community does a good job at Ujima.  The idea is to build and maintain the community together and share in each other’s problems, solutions, tears, and successes.

Yeah, we are experts on this one.

On any given day, you can peruse Disabled Twitter threads and see calls to action for help.  You will see community members supporting other members with advice, financial help, links to resources, just good ole fashioned friendship.

Ujima, disabled-ly means we know the power in numbers.  For many of us, social media was the first time we experienced the principle of Ujima. This is because for many of us, we live in or lived in an inaccessible society – be it physical barriers, social barriers, etc.  Social media opened up a community to us and we don’t take it for granted.

So, of course when given the chance we will share in our brother’s/sister’s ups and downs, as they will share in ours.

Habari Gani? What’s the news?

Ujima, Disabled-ly!

I Am Here To Be Me – Not Your Inspiration

I Am Here To Be Me – Not Your Inspiration

I’ve been sharing my Bar Exam GoFundMe now for a couple of weeks on social media. And I appreciate every share. I really do! But what I don’t appreciate is being made into the star of a #fakespiration aka #InspirationPorn post, esp when it centers the poster.

So, someone, for whom I have much respect, shared my campaign added their own caption to the post. That caption said:

“One of the bravest hardest working individuals I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Tiara was born in a wheelchair as well as missing several fingers due to circumstances she could not control.

Though she was not one of my students at [ABC College], I was her supervising professor when she helped create the [ZYX Legal Clinic]. Her Professor M[], and I never once saw her handicap to the point that we were applying to positions for her and were confused when law offices called stating she did not meet the requirements for lifting case files, which were a certain weight. Tiara is one of those people that is so hard working that you don’t notice that she’s in a wheelchair.

What’s even more amazing is she NEVER ONCE stated she was not able to do something because of her handicap. She still inspires me to this day!”

I read this three times and could only think: WHAT THE ACTUAL F*&K
4WheelWorkout WTF
First off, who is “born in a wheelchair”? Second, why was ANY of that backstory necessary to sharing my GoFundMe campaign? It just wasn’t.  Why not just focus on my accomplishments as someone who was there and witnessed it ALL from the beginning of my time at that school?
What were those accomplishments?  WELL! This person saw me come in, make President’s list upon graduation (perfect attendance and perfect GPA for the entire length of the program).  This person saw me not just get accepted into a national honors program, but within a few months become it’s president. This person saw me plan and execute an entire voter registration drive in the school. Saw me advocate. Saw me not just found a whole behind legal clinic, create training curriculum for that and some other things.
Saw me say one day “I’m going to law school” and then made that sh*t happen.  I didn’t just get in, I graduated.

They saw me accomplish every freaking thing I set out to do in my 10 months in that program.

They saw me “talk the talk, and roll the roll”

But do they talk about ANY of that? No. They talk about my disability and the struggle as if it were their story to tell. They center themselves and how I was somehow less disabled because I didn’t act disabled even tho I was/am hella disabled.  They focus on how hard I work and on them not seeing my wheelchair yet, it’s all they talk about.

They completely erased me to the point where I, the person raising funds, am a plot device. I am the reason they deserve a pat on the back.  I “inspire” them to this day. Because I was/am what? Doing sh*t? Living? Reaching goals? Not being the way they thought disabled people should be?  And after ALL of that harping on how I’m so disabled but less disabled, they didn’t even say “Hey! Let’s help!”

Because that is what inspiration porn is: A vehicle to focus on the “director” and give them the accolades but making it appear to be about the “star”
Look, I am not here to live “despite” my disability. I let go of the need to impress “despite” my wheels along time ago. That’s ableism. I am not here to make you feel good about knowing a disabled person and treating them like…a person.
I am not here to be your inspiration if the only reason you feel inspired is because the “girl in a wheelchair and missing fingers” woke up and ate breakfast. Not if you’re inspired by me just…being.
I am here to make waves. I am here to buck the system. I am here to advocate. To be an extra voice in the chorus of marginalized folks who shout in their own ways to be heard and respected.
I am here to learn the law, so i can use the law to change the law.
Let that inspire you

I am here to be Tiara. An educator. An activist. A wife. A mother. A fighter. A role model. An advocate. Just another Disabled Black Girl navigating this ableist society we call home.

Not your inspiration

Of Gloria, Angela, and Vilissa: Feminism, Race, Disability

Of Gloria, Angela, and Vilissa: Feminism, Race, Disability

Sitting in a room full of women, I decided to engage in conversation with the other women.  The subject eventually turned to motherhood.  Of the 20 or so women present, I was only one of five who did not have children.  I was the only one of the attendees with a visible disability.  The women asked the childless attendees whether they planned to have children some day.  This question was not posed to me.  Instead, I was asked whether she can have children.

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