This book contains heavy themes around suicide, suicide ideation, abuse and trauma.
Wow. This book. It was a salve. A reassurance that I am not alone. A learning opportunity. I feel punched in the stomach and hugged all at once.
In the preface, Leah writes “Disability justice” is a term coined by the Black, brown, queer, and trans members of the original Disability Justice Collective, founded in 2005 by Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, Stacey Milbern, Leroy Moore, Eli Clare, and Sebastian Margaret. Disabled queer and trans Black, Asian, and white activists and artists, they dreamed up a movement-building framework that would center the lives, needs, and organizing strategies of disabled queer and trans and/or Black and brown people marginalized from mainstream disability rights organizing’s white-dominated, single-issue focus.”
Care Work explores the ideas of how people doing good work can be imperfect; that accessibility is not optional (and that it should be asked for by all disabled people – even if their disability doesn’t require those specific access needs; and what it means to be a disabled person of colour. (Plus so much more.)
As I read Care Work, it felt like I was uncovering new ideas, new work and communities within the disability space – the same feeling I got when I read Pride Against Prejudice by Jenny Morris in 2012, and when I watched Stella Young’s Ted Talk on inspiration porn.
I learnt an incredible amount about disability justice and transformation, and mutual aid – terms that aren’t often explored in white disability spaces. I had started reading the book the night I had a brilliant dinner and conversation with Australian disability activist El Gibbs. We talked about disability justice, and she told me I had practiced disability justice in ensuring accessibility for her that night. It was something I’d just do ordinarily, but for El to name it put the act of providing accessibility within the disability community put it into perspective.
I related to a lot of Leah’s experiences – especially the nature of touring type work and productivity from bed. Almost all of my writing is done from bed, and so is Leah’s.
The other thing I related to was when Leah wrote how as person of colour, she never talked about disability, because their family had the “toughen up” mentality. I felt this as a kid, so very much.
The content within Care Work feels so mature. It moves so far beyond Disability 101 – and truly covers what it means to practice intersectionality.
The book took me so long to read because I wanted to savour it. I listened to the Protect Your Heart chapter three times, because I just resonated with it so much – as a public figure in the disability activism space who often has huge expectations placed on me, and because of my experiences with lateral violence. I also loved the chapter called Chronically Ill Touring Artist Pro Tips (so useful!), and the interview between Leah and the late Stacey Milburn was brilliant.
I feel so energised and seen.
I encourage everyone to read it – especially white disabled people.
Leah is an incredible disability and LGBTIQA activist, with a huge folio of work. I can’t wait to explore it more.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Leah. Leah’s voice is soothing and reassuring. I am so grateful for this book – it’s a resource that I will go back to many times.