Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm

This week, I decided to share a post from Leaving Evidence on something called forced intimacy, a term used by blogger and activist Mia Mingus to describe “the common, daily experience of disabled people being expected to share personal parts of ourselves to survive in an ableist world.” It was especially interesting to read about how even basic things, like pushing a wheelchair, are often done without the author’s consent or without the consent of disabled people in general. I hope that people reading Mingus’s post can learn how to avoid imposing this forced intimacy upon people with disabilities, no matter how well-intentioned we are.

“Forced Intimacy” is a term I have been using for years to refer to the common, daily experience of disabled people being expected to share personal parts of ourselves to survive in an ableist world. This often takes the form of being expected to share (very) personal information with able bodied people to get basic […]

via Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm — Leaving Evidence

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Native American History is Erased from School Curricula

One thing that many of us might not be aware of is that November is Native American History Month.

Another thing many of us may not be aware of is that Native American history is often barely present, absent, or extremely misleading in school curricula.

For example, the College Board’s curriculum for Advanced Placement (AP) United States History mentioned Native Americans only once in a post-1890 context: as a subdivision of a key concept which says students should learn about how “Latino, American Indian, and Asian American movements continued to demand social and economic equality and a redress of past injustices” (quote found on page 87 of this link). To which I think, “Umm…excuse me…what do you think happened with Native Americans between 1890 and the civil rights era?” I’m not sure if I’d get answers even if I asked the College Board.

My home state of New York is somewhat better about including Native Americans in its history curriculum. For example, New York includes Native American movements on the list of civil rights movements that need to be covered. Regarding the era of World War II, the curriculum says: “Students will examine the contributions of women, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican workers, and Mexican Americans to the war effort, as well as the discrimination that they experienced in the military and workforce” (pages 40 and 41 of this link). The curriculum also makes room for key legislation on Native Americans, such as the Dawes Act, and forced assimilation efforts, such as the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. However, unless the quality of textbooks has changed since my younger brother went through United States History in New York two years ago, much of the information on these topics is misleading at best, and promoting falsehoods at worst.

And some of that misleading information is expressed when California talks about Native Americans and civil rights. At one point, the post-World War II chapter in their curriculum says: “American Indians also became more aware of the inequality of their treatment in many states where Indian tribes are located. American Indian veterans, returning from World War II were no longer willing to be denied the right to vote by the states, which controlled the voting sites or to be told their children could not attend state public schools” (in this link; search for my quote to find the link most easily). Say what? They just said that there was little awareness among Native Americans about their lack of rights before the 1940s? That comment left me puzzled, to say the least.

I can give more examples of how states poorly handle Native American issues beyond the 1870s or so, but I think that these three examples give enough of a picture. The bottom line is that Native Americans are often either erased or are depicted with misleading information in many portions of school curricula. That fact is shameful.

It is often said that “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Many high school curricula don’t even teach the history of Native Americans beyond the 1870s (let alone teach it properly), so if we are to avoid repeating mistakes, we must start to educate ourselves. I have much to educate myself on, and many of us have much to educate ourselves on, but we must educate ourselves so that we don’t repeat the mistakes and injustices committed against Native Americans in the past.

Blog News: Upcoming Post Schedule and More!

Hello all!

It is once again time for another “blog news” post, as I have a relevant announcement and a message for all of you, my readers.

First, there will be a number of weeks over the next several months when I will not post.

I tend not to post during the weeks of federal holidays (Columbus Day notwithstanding), partially so that people can enjoy holidays with families, and partially so that I can give myself as a writer and all of you as readers a break.

Along those lines, I will not post on the following Tuesdays:

  1. November 7th: Veterans Day is the following Saturday.
  2. November 21st: Thanksgiving is the following Thursday.
  3. December 26th: Christmas is the previous day.
  4. January 2nd: New Year’s Day is the previous day.
  5. January 16th: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the previous day.
  6. February 20th: Washington’s Birthday is the previous day.

Second, I just want to thank you all for supporting my blog.

To be completely honest, when I first started this blog, I was worried that it would be an audience of two: my mom and me. Thankfully, that has not been the case, and the support for this blog has been much greater than I expected. Thank you!

Why We Should Care About Elections in an “Off Year”

Some of us in the United States may not be aware of this, but next Tuesday is Election Day! It is a day where we are supposed to go to polls and vote people into office.

However, the reality is that many of us who are eligible to vote don’t vote, for a variety of reasons. Some of us don’t vote because our work and/or school schedules simply don’t allow us the time to vote. Others need absentee ballots and don’t get them on time; I infamously got a damaged envelope for an election in 2013, and I felt quite angry because it meant that I was unable to vote. Some of us don’t vote because we think the election is a foregone conclusion, though in light of Trump’s victory in 2016 after most people thought Clinton had it in the bag, I hope that’s not a reason people use for not voting. Some of us don’t vote because we just hate all the candidates on the ballot. And then some of us just don’t vote because we don’t care.

I am here to say that everyone should care about Election Day, even though this is a so-called “off year.”

Some of you may be asking what an “off year” is, and why we should care about elections in an off year.

An off year is a year when there are no regularly-scheduled federal elections. So, given the fact that even-numbered years are years when we have federal elections in the United States, odd-numbered years, like 2017, are off years.

However, while there is relatively little we could do about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. this year, given the fact that this is an off year until we get to vote for Congress in 2018 (special elections like Alabama’s U.S. Senate race notwithstanding), there are elections in many parts of the country this year, and elections where we can vote in people who make the places we live in more just. There are people many of us could vote for—people who would keep or increase protections for immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, minorities, women, and more within our municipalities and/or states.

Some people may be skeptical and think: “How can a person from my little hometown or state have a difference?” Actually, in some cases, even the smallest of elections could make a major difference in how just our municipalities, states, and country are.

For example, because of the choices that people in the City of Seattle made at the polls, they ended up with a city council that unanimously voted for city employees to have twelve weeks of paid parental leave. This change allows the mother more time to recover physically from childbirth, and allows both parents to spend time with the child after its birth. This was clearly a case where people in Seattle voted in city council members who made their city a more just place to live, by virtue of the parental leave policy for city employees.

This, of course, is an extreme example. But there are other yet equally important examples, such as the fact that local and state elected officials in New York can and often do set the tone on issues such as housing, homelessness, police treatment of minority communities, and a greater inclusion of people with disabilities.

So, while I understand that there are circumstances which may keep readers from voting on Election Day, I hope that people can at least care enough to recognize the benefits and consequences of who gets voted into office, even at the local and state levels. Just because it’s an off year doesn’t mean that we should refrain from voting, because we should not refrain from the opportunity to vote for people who make our municipalities or states more just than they currently are.

LGBTQ+: Beyond Marriage

Given the fact that October is LGBT History Month, I think that it is both important and appropriate to dedicate a blog post during the month to the topic of LGBTQ+ issues.

In particular, I want to use this post as a warning against viewing LGBTQ+ history in the way that many of us view the civil rights movement for African Americans: ending with one or two major events.

In history classes, the African American civil rights movement is often taught as having ended decades ago, with legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is the case, even though many civil rights problems still remain in 2017.

I fear that many of us in future generations will view the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in a similar way: ending with one or two major events. The only difference is that instead of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act with African American civil rights, we have the allowance of same-sex marriage in all fifty states and the lifting of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” with LGBTQ+ rights.

The problem, however, is that there are many LGBTQ+ civil rights which should exist but don’t. Here are a few examples:

  1. Most states have no laws regarding discrimination in schools on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  2. Most states do not prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. Many states do not address hate crimes that are on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  4. Most states do not prohibit discrimination at public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

I can add many other things to the list, but the point of having this list is to show that the LGBTQ+ rights movement should not be viewed as ending just because the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal. That was one step in the process for securing LGBTQ+ rights, but it is by no means the only step or the last step.

If people view the decision to legalize same-sex marriage as the last or only step in achieving LGBTQ+ civil rights, then issues such as the ones I mention above will continue to exist for decades to come. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.

Here is a map showing states and where they stand on a variety of LGBTQ+ issues—this map from the Human Rights Campaign: https://www.hrc.org/state-maps