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Disability Visibility

First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Alice Wong On Tour
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Paperback
$18.00 US
On sale Jun 30, 2020 | 336 Pages | 978-1-9848-9942-2
One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together this urgent, galvanizing collection of contemporary essays by disabled people.

From Harriet McBryde Johnson’s account of her debate with Peter Singer over her own personhood to original pieces by authors like Keah Brown and Haben Girma; from blog posts, manifestos, and eulogies to Congressional testimonies, and beyond: this anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. It invites readers to question their own understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and the past with hope and love.
 
“Alice Wong should be in charge of editing all books. Even better, Alice Wong should be in charge of everything! To Alice, words like ‘diversity’ and ‘intersectionality’ aren’t just buzzwords. They are marching orders. In this book, she has collected a staggering array of stories from writers who experience disability in vastly different ways. This isn’t meant to be THE DEFINITIVE BOOK on disability. It is a doorway, and Alice is inviting us all to go through the doorway and continue our learning process. She even ends the collection with a bibliography that extends far beyond your standard reading list. Whether you currently consider yourself part of the disability community or not, you’re gonna want to take in the wisdom woven throughout this book. Now more than ever, our society desperately needs to listen to and take action on the changes disabled artists and activists have been demanding for so long. I am lucky she is my friend.” —W. Kamau Bell, host of United Shades of America
 
“If we’re going to talk about diversity in earnest then we must acknowledge the contributors in Alice Wong’s anthology and how their essays encapsulate intersectional dialogue, intellectual thought, and intimate details. Disability Visibility is the perfect name for this collection because the authors words resound loudly and deserve to be heard. Books like this showcase why change is needed, what needs to be part of the larger political consciousness, and who is often left out of the conversation. This book is a celebration and a source of deep education for many to bear witness (and feel seen by) the vastness of disabled stories, voices, and backgrounds.” Jennifer Baker, editor of Everyday People: The Color of Life—A Short Story Anthology

“These essays are the heart, the bones, and the blood of Disability Rights. They honestly bare the joys, pleasures, sorrows, anger, frustrations, fears, and hope of real-life, complete human beings. Disability Visibility offers its readers the chance to open their minds, re-train their hearts, and raise their expectations of society. It is one grounding stone on the path to true liberation and acceptance for human beings in all their glorious variations. Alice Wong delicately arranges these gems—the brilliant hues, the unique contours, and the sharp edges—to create a beautiful mosaic of disability.” —Gaelynn Lea, musician and activist

“As a Deaf Asian American, it wasn’t until recent years that I started considering myself disabled. These stories validated many complicated experiences I had while growing up and felt fully relatable. When did I realize I deserved a better future? When did I stop feeling the need to assimilate? When did I become radicalized by ableism? There are many ways to be disabled and even though we aren’t offered many platforms to present ourselves, we exist and we want to write our own history. This is a very informed starting point for anyone who, like myself, would like to get a better understanding of disability as a massive and beautifully nuanced spectrum.” —Christine Sun Kim, artist

“Wong’s discerning selections, bolstered by the activism that shines through, will educate and inspire readers.” —Kirkus Reviews 

Introduction by Alice Wong

PART 1: BEING

Unspeakable Conversations
Harriet McBryde Johnson

For Ki’tay D. Davidson, Who Loves Us
Talila A. Lewis

If You Can’t Fast, Give
Maysoon Zayid

There’s a Mathematical Equation That Proves I’m Ugly—Or So I Learned in My Seventh-Grade Art Class
Ariel Henley

The Erasure of Indigenous People in Chronic Illness
Jen Deerinwater

When You Are Waiting to Be Healed
June Eric-Udorie

The Isolation of Being Deaf in Prison
Jeremy Woody, as told to Christie Thompson  

Common Cyborg
Jillian Weise

I’m Tired of Chasing a Cure
Liz Moore

PART 2: BECOMING

We Can’t Go Back
Ricardo T. Thornton Sr.

Radical Visibility: A Disabled Queer Clothing Reform Movement Manifesto
Sky Cubacub

Guide Dogs Don’t Lead Blind People. We Wander as One.
Haben Girma

Taking Charge of My Story as a Cancer Patient at the Hospital Where I Work
Diana Cejas

Canfei to Canji: The Freedom of Being Loud
Sandy Ho

Nurturing Black Disabled Joy
Keah Brown

Last but Not Least — Embracing Asexuality
Keshia Scott 

Imposter Syndrome and Parenting with a Disability
Jessica Slice  

How to Make a Paper Crane from Rage
Elsa Sjunneson

Selma Blair Became a Disabled Icon Overnight. Here’s Why We Need More Stories Like Hers.
Zipporah Arielle

PART 3: DOING

Why My Novel Is Dedicated to My Disabled Friend Maddy
A. H. Reaume

The Antiabortion Bill You Aren’t Hearing About
Rebecca Cokley

So. Not. Broken.
Alice Sheppard

How a Blind Astronomer Found a Way to Hear the Stars
Wanda Díaz-Merced

Incontinence Is a Public Health Issue—And We Need to Talk About It
Mari Ramsawakh

Falling/Burning: Hannah Gadsby, Nanette, and Being a Bipolar Creator
Shoshana Kessock

Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time
Ellen Samuels

Lost Cause
Reyma McCoy McDeid  

On NYC’s Paratransit, Fighting for Safety, Respect, and Human Dignity
Britney Wilson

Gaining Power through Communication Access
Lateef McLeod

PART 4: CONNECTING

The Fearless Benjamin Lay: Activist, Abolitionist, Dwarf Person
Eugene Grant

To Survive Climate Catastrophe, Look to Queer and Disabled Folks
Patty Berne, as told to and edited by Vanessa Raditz

Disability Solidarity: Completing the “Vision for Black Lives”
Harriet Tubman Collective

Time’s Up for Me, Too
Karolyn Gehrig  

Still Dreaming Wild Disability Justice Dreams at the End of the World
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna- Samarasinha  

Love Means Never Having to Say . . . Anything
Jamison Hill  

On the Ancestral Plane: Crip Hand- Me Downs and the Legacy of Our Movements
Stacey Milbern

The Beauty of Spaces Created for and by Disabled People
s.e. smith

 

About the Editor

About the Contributors

Further Reading

link

Educator Guide for Disability Visibility

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

About

One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together this urgent, galvanizing collection of contemporary essays by disabled people.

From Harriet McBryde Johnson’s account of her debate with Peter Singer over her own personhood to original pieces by authors like Keah Brown and Haben Girma; from blog posts, manifestos, and eulogies to Congressional testimonies, and beyond: this anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. It invites readers to question their own understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and the past with hope and love.
 
“Alice Wong should be in charge of editing all books. Even better, Alice Wong should be in charge of everything! To Alice, words like ‘diversity’ and ‘intersectionality’ aren’t just buzzwords. They are marching orders. In this book, she has collected a staggering array of stories from writers who experience disability in vastly different ways. This isn’t meant to be THE DEFINITIVE BOOK on disability. It is a doorway, and Alice is inviting us all to go through the doorway and continue our learning process. She even ends the collection with a bibliography that extends far beyond your standard reading list. Whether you currently consider yourself part of the disability community or not, you’re gonna want to take in the wisdom woven throughout this book. Now more than ever, our society desperately needs to listen to and take action on the changes disabled artists and activists have been demanding for so long. I am lucky she is my friend.” —W. Kamau Bell, host of United Shades of America
 
“If we’re going to talk about diversity in earnest then we must acknowledge the contributors in Alice Wong’s anthology and how their essays encapsulate intersectional dialogue, intellectual thought, and intimate details. Disability Visibility is the perfect name for this collection because the authors words resound loudly and deserve to be heard. Books like this showcase why change is needed, what needs to be part of the larger political consciousness, and who is often left out of the conversation. This book is a celebration and a source of deep education for many to bear witness (and feel seen by) the vastness of disabled stories, voices, and backgrounds.” Jennifer Baker, editor of Everyday People: The Color of Life—A Short Story Anthology

“These essays are the heart, the bones, and the blood of Disability Rights. They honestly bare the joys, pleasures, sorrows, anger, frustrations, fears, and hope of real-life, complete human beings. Disability Visibility offers its readers the chance to open their minds, re-train their hearts, and raise their expectations of society. It is one grounding stone on the path to true liberation and acceptance for human beings in all their glorious variations. Alice Wong delicately arranges these gems—the brilliant hues, the unique contours, and the sharp edges—to create a beautiful mosaic of disability.” —Gaelynn Lea, musician and activist

“As a Deaf Asian American, it wasn’t until recent years that I started considering myself disabled. These stories validated many complicated experiences I had while growing up and felt fully relatable. When did I realize I deserved a better future? When did I stop feeling the need to assimilate? When did I become radicalized by ableism? There are many ways to be disabled and even though we aren’t offered many platforms to present ourselves, we exist and we want to write our own history. This is a very informed starting point for anyone who, like myself, would like to get a better understanding of disability as a massive and beautifully nuanced spectrum.” —Christine Sun Kim, artist

“Wong’s discerning selections, bolstered by the activism that shines through, will educate and inspire readers.” —Kirkus Reviews 

Table of Contents

Introduction by Alice Wong

PART 1: BEING

Unspeakable Conversations
Harriet McBryde Johnson

For Ki’tay D. Davidson, Who Loves Us
Talila A. Lewis

If You Can’t Fast, Give
Maysoon Zayid

There’s a Mathematical Equation That Proves I’m Ugly—Or So I Learned in My Seventh-Grade Art Class
Ariel Henley

The Erasure of Indigenous People in Chronic Illness
Jen Deerinwater

When You Are Waiting to Be Healed
June Eric-Udorie

The Isolation of Being Deaf in Prison
Jeremy Woody, as told to Christie Thompson  

Common Cyborg
Jillian Weise

I’m Tired of Chasing a Cure
Liz Moore

PART 2: BECOMING

We Can’t Go Back
Ricardo T. Thornton Sr.

Radical Visibility: A Disabled Queer Clothing Reform Movement Manifesto
Sky Cubacub

Guide Dogs Don’t Lead Blind People. We Wander as One.
Haben Girma

Taking Charge of My Story as a Cancer Patient at the Hospital Where I Work
Diana Cejas

Canfei to Canji: The Freedom of Being Loud
Sandy Ho

Nurturing Black Disabled Joy
Keah Brown

Last but Not Least — Embracing Asexuality
Keshia Scott 

Imposter Syndrome and Parenting with a Disability
Jessica Slice  

How to Make a Paper Crane from Rage
Elsa Sjunneson

Selma Blair Became a Disabled Icon Overnight. Here’s Why We Need More Stories Like Hers.
Zipporah Arielle

PART 3: DOING

Why My Novel Is Dedicated to My Disabled Friend Maddy
A. H. Reaume

The Antiabortion Bill You Aren’t Hearing About
Rebecca Cokley

So. Not. Broken.
Alice Sheppard

How a Blind Astronomer Found a Way to Hear the Stars
Wanda Díaz-Merced

Incontinence Is a Public Health Issue—And We Need to Talk About It
Mari Ramsawakh

Falling/Burning: Hannah Gadsby, Nanette, and Being a Bipolar Creator
Shoshana Kessock

Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time
Ellen Samuels

Lost Cause
Reyma McCoy McDeid  

On NYC’s Paratransit, Fighting for Safety, Respect, and Human Dignity
Britney Wilson

Gaining Power through Communication Access
Lateef McLeod

PART 4: CONNECTING

The Fearless Benjamin Lay: Activist, Abolitionist, Dwarf Person
Eugene Grant

To Survive Climate Catastrophe, Look to Queer and Disabled Folks
Patty Berne, as told to and edited by Vanessa Raditz

Disability Solidarity: Completing the “Vision for Black Lives”
Harriet Tubman Collective

Time’s Up for Me, Too
Karolyn Gehrig  

Still Dreaming Wild Disability Justice Dreams at the End of the World
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna- Samarasinha  

Love Means Never Having to Say . . . Anything
Jamison Hill  

On the Ancestral Plane: Crip Hand- Me Downs and the Legacy of Our Movements
Stacey Milbern

The Beauty of Spaces Created for and by Disabled People
s.e. smith

 

About the Editor

About the Contributors

Further Reading

Media

link

Guides

Educator Guide for Disability Visibility

Classroom-based guides appropriate for schools and colleges provide pre-reading and classroom activities, discussion questions connected to the curriculum, further reading, and resources.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Books for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Every May we celebrate the rich history and culture of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Browse a curated selection of fiction and nonfiction books by AANHPI creators that we think your students will love. Find our full collection of titles for Higher Education here.

Read more

DISABILITY VISIBILITY is an urgent collection of contemporary essays by disabled people.

Activist Alice Wong presents a galvanizing collection of thirty-seven essays by disabled people just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. From Harriet McBryde Johnson’s account of her debate with Peter Singer over her

Read more