Ableism tells us some bodies are valuable and some are disposable.
In the U.S. context, ableism has been forged with and through white supremacy, colonial conquest, capitalist domination, and heteropatriarchy so that bodies are valued for their ability to produce profit or have it extracted from them, or are otherwise excluded or eliminated through isolation, institutionalization, incarceration, and/or death. Since the 1960s, the disability rights movement has made important strides to establish the civil rights of people with disabilities, increase access for people with mobility and communication impairments, and advance a philosophy of independent living for people with disabilities. However, the wisdom and experiences of people of color and poor people have often been marginalized in the disability rights struggle, and the solutions have often been too narrow to get to the root causes of ableism that keep people with disabilities targeted for criminalization, poverty and isolation.
Disabled people of color, queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people, including Patty Berne, Stacey Milbern, Eli Clare, Sebastian Margaret, Mia Mingus, and many others have documented the history of ableism in the U.S. as well as the work and limitations of the disability rights movement, and developed critical resources toward a disability justice framework. The videos in the series “No Body Is Disposable” offer snapshots of this framework and tools for activists, educators, and students to bring to their communities.
In the first video, “My Body Does Not Oppress Me, Society Does,” disability justice activists Patty Berne and Stacey Milbern discuss how social models of accessibility confront the social, economic, and physical barriers that render physical impairments disabling in an ableist society.
In the second video, “Ableism is the Bane of my Motherfuckin’ Existence,” Patty Berne and Stacey Milbern expand on the disability justice framework and the need for a politicized understanding of ableism as a dehumanizing system of social control, isolation, exile, and death within a context of racism, classism, colonialism, and heteropatriarchy.
In this video, Patty Berne and Stacey Milbern discuss the Trump administration’s proposed Medicaid cuts and the disastrous effects these cuts will have on people with disabilities, cutting “right to the core of being able to live.”
As we have witnessed over the last several months, the budget priorities and cuts of right-wing and fascist regimes reveal volumes about who is valued and viable in a society and who is not. The Trump administration’s proposed cuts to Medicaid declare people with disabilities, poor people, young people, and elders to be disposable and under attack.
Fight to #SaveMedicaid by sharing this video on Facebook and Twitter, forwarding it to your comrades and colleagues, and supporting organizing in your community.
The series “No Body Is Disposable” is produced by the Barnard Center for Research on Women in collaboration with Sins Invalid, a disability justice-based performance project centering disabled artists who are people of color, queer, trans, and/or gender nonconforming. These videos were made by Dean Spade and Hope Dector. Additional videos will be added here as they are released.
The text above is amended from “Disability Justice – A Working Draft,” by Patty Berne in Sins Invalid’s “Skin, Tooth, and Bone: A Disability Justice Primer.” Download it now.
Please share these videos and visit sinsinvalid.org to learn more.