Black people have never lost touch with how disability lives in and flows through and out of us. We have always found ways to tell the truth about how the conditions we live, love, and survive in [in]form our bodies and minds.Though we rarely use white European language of “disability” to explain our truths, through our art, we have created entire cultural catalogues to capture and commemorate the Black disabled experience.
For example, Black music has always been a forum to broadcast the intricacies of the Black disabled experience. Our artists tell these stories by unearthing the complex relationships between deprivation, violence, disability, trauma and poverty—which are all causes and consequences of one another. We also have reclaimed and recreated words that were used to pathologize Blackness and disability, and boldly tell the story of how generations of deprivation, violence, trauma and oppression are to blame for a great many of our sorrows, struggles, sacrifices, symptoms, selves.
Even still, as is true for almost every country, ableism permeates every aspect of our culture including our music. For example, hip-hop musicians often use disability as metaphor, disablement as threat, and ableist slurs to establish dominance in the hyper-masculine “rap game.” As a result, there is no shortage of ableism (and other ableism-inspired oppressions like sexism) in an art that is often a mirror of the society in which the art lives.
Rather than continuing to engage with stagnant conceptions of disability, we must lean towards our questions, challenges & complexities. These will animate the [art]work of creating a world that centers the love, access & freedom we all deserve.
This living Disability Solidarity playlist is part of a multi-form project borne of heartwork of Dustin Gibson and Talila “TL” Lewis--Black Disabled comrades in lifelong struggle for liberation of all people.
Deep gratitude to Black artists who are brave enough to hold up the mirror and share our truths.
Our venerable griots.
Hold us up.
Hold us down.
Keep holdin Black.
Listen to the playlist here: bit.ly/displaylist