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Day 4:Ujamaa, Disabled-ly

Day 4:Ujamaa, Disabled-ly

Habari Gani ya’ll!

The principle of the day is Ujamaa, or Cooperative Economics.  I love all the principles and besides Kujichagulia, this is a favorite.  Note: I have one more favorite.  You can read more about Ujamaa on my original post. And yup! Another principle I believe the disabled community demonstrates quite well.

How?

For many of us, entrepreneurship is our livelihood.  And for many of us, our audience is other disabled folks and organizations.  We create online stores and sell pins, t-shirts, bags, original artwork, books. (We’re a creative bunch, eh?).  In other words, we build and maintain our own stores, and we circulate our disabled dollars.

That’s not to say we are rolling in the dough.  But it does mean we support each other’s endeavors.  I think it has something to do with understanding how hard it is to create income as a disabled person in many instances.  It could be hiring discrimination or it can be income limits to keep our benefits or insurance.  Whatever it is, we practice Ujamaa.  Sometimes, other disabled people are our only customers. We do a great job of not being crabs in the bucket.

I invite you, if you are a member of the disabled community, to post your business links in the comments.  Let’s continue to uphold the spirit of Ujamaa.

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!

Day 2: Kujichagulia, Disabled-ly

Day 2: Kujichagulia, Disabled-ly

Habari Gani? Kujichagulia, disabledly.

Kujichagulia means “Self-determination”.  Day 2 of Kwanzaa is probably always been my favorite day.  When I was little, it was because I liked saying the name. Kujichagulia.  I felt so smart being able to pronounce what I thought was a hard word (don’t judge me).  As I got older, I really began to appreciate the actual meaning. Self-determination: Speaking and thinking for ourselves. Determining, for ourselves who we are, what we want, what we stand for. Agency. Autonomy.

And oh boy! Don’t we, as disabled people embody that ideal, or the want of it. Historically, we aren’t given the space to be as independent as we can be.  We aren’t given the room to speak for ourselves.  All to often we are spoken for and spoken over by non-disabled people.  Online, on the ground, it doesn’t matter. Ever go out to eat with a non-disabled friend/partner? Ever notice the waiter speaks to your friend but wants to know what you’re having?  What about at the doctor’s office?  I know there have been several times my partner accompanied me and the staff directed all questions about ME to HIM!!

It’s more than just that. It might be determining our career paths. Apparently, we aren’t supposed to have any.  Determining our love lives…we aren’t supposed to have any. Things as simple as having social lives and interactions. Nope! Not supposed to have any.  If we were in court right now, I’d say “Objection! Assuming facts not in evidence”. In other words, society’s assumption that we lack agency, autonomy, self-determination is based on absolutely nothing but ableist ideals.  And I reject it.

When you’re disabled, somehow that means you automatically lack the ability to be your own person and make your own decisions. Well, at least from what I have observed.  Maybe you experienced something different? Comment below and tell us what Kujichagulia (Self-determination) looks like for you.

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