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January 25, 2021

Call for Papers: Disability Justice Activism Now

CONTENT WARNING: Our call for submissions speaks on issues of policing, COVID-19, anti-Blackness, trans/misogynoir, racism, transphobia, and ableism.

Throughout this pandemic, we have seen the ways Disabled, sick, neurodiverse and mad BIPOC around the world are radically and brilliantly organizing, producing care networks, mutual aid collectives and imagining worlds where no one is left behind. Uprisings against state sanctioned anti-Black violence in the US and elsewhere, and the movement for Black lives organizing to abolish the police have collided with the ongoing developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, exposing the need for critical disability justice in every sector of daily life.

Black and Indigenous folks at the forefront of global abolitionist movements, as well as other grassroots anti-racist, de-colonial and disability justice movements, are organizing through a public health crisis that is disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities, while simultaneously contending with the embodied consequences of fighting for justice and survival. COVID-19 and the 2020 social uprisings against racial injustice have exposed the ableist roots of systemic issues and the emotional, psychological and physical labour required of activists and public health workers on the frontlines. The lack of mental health support, for not only disabled/sick/mad communities but for neurotypical folks who may be encountering this for the first time, furthers the need for intersectionality, accountability and solidarity in our movements and in our scholarship. Especially as we see Black/Indigenous disabled, sick, neurodiverse and mad lives, as well as Black/Indigenous queer, trans and women’s lives sidelined in mainstream media and culture. We continue to navigate our individual and collective survival in systems and movements that have considered disability as an afterthought, the effects of which are compounded for disabled racialized folx.

Ableism only ever appears in the midst of other historical systems of oppression. As we imagine and work towards new worlds beyond the pandemic, our activism and justice work must center the needs, perspectives and insights of the most and multiply- marginalized: “those who most know the systems” (Sins Invalid, 2016). Scholar and activist Syrus Marcus Ware importantly reminds us that “by starting with QTBIPOC narratives, we gain a different entry point into trans and queer collective timelines of resistance and archives, and we interrupt the ways that these omissions produce a whitewashed canon” (Ware, 2017). When imagining new worlds, we also must heed the words of Tricia Hersey, the founder of the Black women-led Nap Ministry: “Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy” (Hersey, 2020).

Disability justice frameworks allow us to better understand and proactively address the ongoing presence of implicit and explicit forms of ableism in our movements while also reckoning with the exclusionary and ongoing history of disability activism. Knots Issue #6: “Disability Justice Activism Now” seeks to explore disability as “a political experience” that encompasses “a community full of rich histories, cultures and legacies” for BIPOC and multiply marginalized communities. This exploration will be essential as we begin to reshape our collective consciousness in a post-COVID world and as we continue fighting for disability justice (Mingus, 2010).

We invite written and creative submissions that engage broadly with the intersections of BIPOC/racialized disability, health and mental health, social movements and activism. Also please note, while we invite all students to submit, we will be placing priority on submissions from Black/Indigenous students.

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