Tomorrow marks 10 years of Giving Tuesday, a concept introduced by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in 2012. The hope was that conspicuous consumption (Black Friday, extending to Cyber Monday, extending to Small Business Saturday) would give way to what the late great disability historian Paul Longmore has called conspicuous contribution. And it’s been quite successful in some ways: the GivingTuesday Data Commons reports that 35 million people in the U.S. donated $2.7 billion on Giving Tuesday in 2021.
But the research generated by this annual tradition also expands the concepts of generosity and giving far beyond monetary donations. As I peruse the 2021 Lookback Report, I’m struck by the lack of distinctions between volunteerism, advocacy, and organizing. Disability activism, according to this research, is a “cause” and the time we spend on it is measured as a form of giving. How did we arrive at the idea that trying to resist a majority culture that so easily tolerates disabled death is part of a “global generosity movement”?
Disability has been a central part of the growth of the U.S. nonprofit industrial complex, something I studied by looking at the growth of “-thons” like telethons, walkathons, and danceathons for my 2018 doctoral dissertation. The supposedly pathetic experience of disability has been a call for supposedly able-bodied people to lend a helping hand. Sending good vibes to anyone feeling trapped by inspiration porn this week.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
This week, on December 3rd, also marks the 30th observance of the U.N.’s annual commitment to disability issues. This year’s theme is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world.” The main program will take place in New York and online on Monday, December 5th from 9am – 12pm ET with “interactive dialogues” about disability inclusive development in employment and sport and to reduce inequality. You can register for the virtual event here.
Healing Justice & Marijuana in New York
Last week, New York announced the first licenses for adult-use marijuana retail dispensaries. Pursuant to the state’s equity plan for legalizing the retail market, these licenses were given to people directly affected by drug law enforcement and incarceration. 28 licenses were awarded to businesses, with many others held up by an injunction from a federal judge pending a challenge about favorability of NY residents in the selection process.
8 licenses were also granted to nonprofits, many of whom are drawing connections between cannabis and healing justice. LIFE Camp, founded by Erica Ford in 2002, is dedicated to reducing violence and arrests in Southeast Queens and is believed to be the first nonprofit led by a Black woman to receive a retail license.
“The state benefited off the destruction of our community, and the destruction of individuals from the ‘criminalization’ of marijuana and cannabis sales in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Ford said in an interview. “Now it’s a billion-dollar industry — and you destroyed communities from it. So it is, without question, the mandate that we invest and help rebuild it and repair some of these communities.”
Housing Works, an organization that protects people living with HIV/AIDs, those experiencing homelessness, and those who have recently been released from incarceration, will be launching a training program to help justice-involved people receive their own license.
The retail market expands the possibilities for treating chronic pain with cannabis, something disabled people have been doing for a long, long time. We can hope for more and better change if the people most affected by marijuana use can shape policy and regulation. With marijuana still illegal on the federal level, for example, its use can still threaten access to forms of support like SSI and SSDI.
Fake Tweets Spotlight Real Greed
With the spate of new handles using Twitter Blue paid accounts, some have used the opportunity to require Big Pharma to admit to its unbelievable greed. With a “verified” check mark attached to it, one tweet that seemed to come from Eli Lilly and Co. read: “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The company’s actual account apologized to those who have been served “a misleading message.”
It costs $10 to produce a vial of insulin, but uninsured patients in the U.S. pay $300 to $400 because 3 corporations control the nation’s supply. 1.3 million people ration their insulin because of its price. 4 in 5 people report taking on credit card debt to cover the cost, with an average debt of $9,000.
Price gouging consolidates money-power. Inside Eli Lilly, according to reporting from The Washington Post, company executives ordered a halt to Twitter advertising, exerting major pressure on Elon Musk during his reliance on advertising dollars to avoid Twitter’s bankruptcy. Pharma giants can get what they want by not spending the money they make off the immoral marketization of lifesaving drugs.
In miniature, the $8 pay-for-play with a Twitter checkmark mimicked Eli Lilly’s $330 billion pay-for-play with domination over people’s capacity to stay alive.
In Other News…
The Anti Police-Terror Project has redistributed an anonymous gift of $3.5 million to support Black self-determination. Recipients include the Shelterwood Collective, a land justice project with a disability justice plan for 900 acres of land in unceded Kashaya and Southern Pomo territory.
APEX Express on KPFA featured the peer counseling program of Lavender Phoenix, an organization building transgender, non-binary, and queer Asian and Pacific Islander power in the Bay Area. The program trained 10 trans and non binary API counselors in abolitionist and disability justice based peer counseling.
In the U.K., Heidi Crowter, a woman with Down’s syndrome, lost her appeal over a law that allows abortion up until birth for a fetus with the condition.
The European Space Agency as recruited John McFall as the world’s first physically disabled astronaut.
PeoplesHub is hiring a full-time Solidarity Economy Program Coordinator.
On Instagram Live. Friday, Dec. 2nd, 4pm ET.
From organizer Tiffany Hammond: “Preparation for survival within [violent] systems involves the utilizations of techniques, methods, etc. that is akin to those that are presented within an ABA framework. We are in this world that dictates that more is expected from us. The modification of our behavior, making us appear more like the dominant group, acclimating to their rules and standards, and hoping that it is enough to keep them safe. That is our best defense from harm.”
On Zoom. Wednesday, Nov. 30th, 5 – 6:30 pm ET.
Bewitch Yourself is a virtual and interactive crip ritual for resourcing ourselves and sharing our resources created and led by Alexa Dexa.
Register at link above or email Morgaine at firstname.lastname@example.org (RSVP is required, it’s okay to RSVP and not attend)
Online. Tuesday, Nov. 29th, 11am – 12:30pm GMT.
Barbara Lisicki, founder of the Direct Action Network, will facilitate a conversation with artists Harmeet Chagger-Khan, Al Davison, Maria Oshodi, and Zoe Partington about how they use digital to make their work, what opportunities it offers and some of the challenges, the extent to which digital arts and culture satisfies the needs of disabled people, and how arts and culture might become more inclusive.
In-person. NYC. Saturday, Dec. 3rd, 12 – 3pm ET.
Free and fun for all ages, programs include art-making workshops, movement and dance, music and relaxed performance, and storytelling. Activities are planned with a multi-sensory approach and designed to create a welcoming environment for visitors with disabilities and their families.
In-person. London. Sunday, Dec. 4th, 2 – 4pm GMT.
For They Let In The Light is a new live commission at Chisenhale Gallery by artist and mental health activist the vacuum cleaner (aka James Leadbitter), developed with a group of young artists he met during Spring 2021 at the Coborn Centre for Adolescent Mental Health in Newham, East London.
Join for an afternoon of conversations with the young artists involved in the project, James Leadbittter, artists Becky Warnock and Tyreis Holder, Director of PEER Gallery, Ellen Greig and Curator of Social Practice at Chisenhale Gallery, Seth Pimlott, to reflect on the commission within a broader discussion around art, mental health and Disability Justice.
Online and in-person (NYC). Sunday, Dec. 4th, 10am – 4:30pm ET.
Tech Kids Unlimited, an org that works with neurodiverse students, is having a digital arts education hackathon all day free program on Dec. 4th online and in-person (@NYU Tandon). Students ages 10 to 22 will be creating podcasts and games to bring awareness to the important issue of #food insecurity.
Cinema Libre Studio is thrilled to announce the home entertainment release of the Slamdance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary, FORGET ME NOT. The film begins in…more
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