Join us for a day of creativity, fun and disability pride.
Tottenham Chances, 399 High Road, London, N17 6QN
Exhibition: 12 – 7pm: A range of grassroots disabled people’s work exploring disability and protest
Banner making workshop: 1-3.30pm: come together for a fun afternoon of banner and placard making for the Freedom Drive on 4th September
Sharing of Work: 4 – 6 pm: disabled performers and writers will put on a range of work exploring disability and activism. With spoken word performance from Ju Gosling, scenes from Kate Cryer’s new play ‘Unspoken’, poetry, songs and open mic, prepare for a powerful afternoon.
Fundraising gig: 7.30pm till late: Madpride compere Jason Why introduces an all star line up with films from Katherine Araniello, comedian Laurence Clark, singer/songwriterAngryfish, live performance of the DPAC Anti Atos anthem ‘Condem Love’ by Kevin Robins and headlining will be Rockinpaddy.
The venue has its own carpark and has wheelchair access. BSL will be provided for the workshop and sharing of work.
For access requests please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disabled people: the first to go. Understand why & how to prevent the current backslide which threatens all groups who are discriminated against. RESISTANCE: a crucial & inspirational exhibition in Manchester til 3 Know this history to help fight current misinformation and hatred centered around the same ideals, spreading the idea that disabled people are unworthy and our state cannot afford us. Very similar propaganda is how the holocaust began – allowing it to happen led to the deaths of millions of other people too.Liz Crow tells us how the resistance of disabled people and our allies was central to bringing this to an end, as it still is now.
RESISTANCE ON TOUR
I had the opportunity on Friday to visit and participate on a panel discussion at Liz Crow’s hard hitting and inspirational installation “Resistance” which I believe to be one of the most important projects about disabled people I have ever seen. It covers some of the hardest issues to cover in a radical and sensitive way and leaves people thinking about what we can all do to make sure nothing like a holocaust ever happens again. I found the discussion very inspiring and learned lots from the other (frankly, awesome) participants.
Then I finally went to see the installation RESISTANCE, which I have been waiting to see for years now, featuring some of my very favourite actors such as Jamie Beddard, Lindsay Carter, Mat Fraser and Ali Briggs.
It left me breathless.
I watched half of it with my head dropped in defeat on my friend Becca’s arm, soaking her sleeve. I felt grief stricken and angry. I felt euphoric seeing some fight back.
I felt confused at seeing highly skilled kickboxer Mat Fraser getting shoved into the death bus.. nothing like the man we know, no kicks in the face to his assailant, just the fear and confusion our people faced before the fightback started, before they knew what was happening. I wanted to scream KICK HIM MATT!
It sounds like I am mentioning this through frivolity but this is a perfect example of how people capable of so much more were institutionalised unwittingly slaughtered like lambs when taken for a ‘day out’. (If someone tried and do this to the real Matt.. I don’t think they’d live long..)
I felt afraid at how current beliefs are now so very close to the beliefs which led to the deaths of almost all identifiable disabled people in Germany, not so very long ago. I felt overwhelmed that the public accepted this and that their acceptance of such hatred against disabled people then also led to the deaths of millions of Jewish people, LGBT people, Roma people and others.
I felt determined I would continue to fight and advocate for our equal right to exist. My brain was exploding with the question WHAT MUST WE DO? What can I do that I am not already doing?
The first thing I’m doing is talking about Liz Crow’s installation and I am asking you come and experience it and / or to tell others about it too – share this blog, blog about it yourself, tell other people, ask people to support us in our current fight against fatal prejudices.
The fundamental MODERN belief that disabled peoples’ lives are of different value to others underpins ALL the prejudice we currently face – especially the dehumanisation we currently face in some areas of media and public opinion.The same beliefs which led to the holocaust now lead to cuts against every service which affects our lives, including those which keep us alive, hatred, attacks and murders, leaving disabled people destitute, locking 340,000 people in institutions in the UK, the killings of unborn disabled babies any time until birth, the do not resucitate procedures and withdrawal of treatment from disabled people of all ages, and the focus on ‘helping’ us to die by setting up special death centres to administer lethal drugs (‘assisted suicide’ centres).
Liz’s project is a crucial installation for all of us to see, disabled people and everyone else. Not just because it exposes our hidden history which is ignored by so many (because they just don’t mind) but because it also draws attention to how current government propaganda is leaning very close to that which was spread before the killing started. And most of all because Liz tells us how disabled people began to resist, inspiring us all to resist, continue to resist and resist harder.
Many people do not realise the Nazi holoucaust began with the extermination of disabled people and having perfected techniques of mass killing on our people, the Nazis went on to exterminate millions of Jewish people, travellers and queers. Disabled people were the testing ground – would the methods work? Would the public accept the annihilation of their fellow citizens? The answer was yes and then the creep began, into every community the Nazis believed did not fit their ideal of humanity.
This part of history must never be forgotten so we never allow it to happen again and Liz Crow questions what we will ALL do to make sure it does not.
It is crucial to understand disabled peoples’ history to understand how we got where we are today. It is esential to recognise that the politics of the past continues to affect contemporary strategies – which, having thrived uninterrupted are now on a steep increase in these ‘Times of Austerity’ – while government is intent on convincing the population that disabled people are a burden on the other citizens of this country which we cannot afford and we are worth less than others.
I reaffirm my foundational belief that while our lives continue to carry unequal status to the lives of others, most importantly our very right to exist in the first place and to continue to exist, we remain at great risk and the symptomatic discrimination we face is to be expected.
We must fight back on those core beliefs and not shy away from them as so many do, we do have a right to fight these beliefs, to fight for our very lives, to encourage disabled people, our families and our allies to fight back and to never ever stop. Not even just a right – we have a responsibility.
Please support Liz’s installation by visiting it during it’s time in Manchester at Zion Arts in Hulme. Please share this blog. Please talk about the issues it raises. Please keep fighting deadly prejudice.
The unrest and violence we have seen across England over the past week is upsetting on many levels: there is upset for the innocent victims of criminality and those hurt and traumatised by events, upset over the prevalence of a lack of morality and empathy within our society, and upset that once again the violation of disabled people’s rights has been eclipsed.
In justification of the welfare to work programme, government and right wing media have played up the existence of a benefit scrounging element bent on fraud and deceit without regard for the consequences of their actions on the rest of the community who pick up the bill for their irresponsible lives. Disabled people have argued that so-called welfare reform is actually targeting the powerless and the oppressed in society and denying basic rights and freedoms. Just as we were being listened to, as the Work and Pensions Select Committee issued their report raising concerns over the Work Capability Assessment Process, just as the Lib Dems announced a vote on 10th September on their position over Employment and Support Allowance, a vision of the disaffected and feckless has been hurled into the lives of the nation, bringing to life the worst Daily Mail stereo-types in a fashion more dramatic and immediate than even shows such as Saints and Scroungers, have managed.
It is too early to say how recent events will impact upon the campaign against the government’s disability policies but our ability to protest is likely to be adversely affected. Last Saturday Disabled People Against Cuts stood with the anti cuts campaigners handing out leaflets in Birmingham City Centre publicising the protest against the Lib Dems on 18th September. It was intended to be the beginning of a mobilisation process to build support ahead of the march. To stand in the same spot this Saturday after the violence and murders that have occurred in the city since, would be insensitive and inappropriate. We had been planning how to oppose Birmingham City Council over the restrictions they are placing on the route for the march. We were hopeful there was room to negotiate. The chance to march down the main high street through the commercial area of the city is very slim, even more unlikely now . At the time of the TUC-organised March For the Alternative earlier this year there was some criticism of the demonstration by unsympathetic press and public, accusing protesters of wasting resources and police time. The association between violent disorder and dissent is now firmly etched into the public consciousness and it is reasonable to anticipate greater hostility towards plans for future demonstrations, however peacefully intended.
Without the option of protest, how are we then to raise awareness of the issues faced by an overlooked minority in whom neither the public nor the press nor politicians are interested? Government cuts are hauling disabled people through fear and distress and robbing them of their dignity and in some cases their lives. The scenes of disorder and violence which the country has witnessed are symptomatic of a bigger picture, a picture where the rich can behave with impunity in the pursuit of material gain, whereas the poor are punished and demonised for the same. Disabled people are part of that bigger picture but our voices just got smaller as attention is turned to more immediate issues and fears. Moreover there is a danger that government injustices against disabled people will now be justified as unfortunate but unavoidable consequences of necessary measures to deal with the disaffected in society and those dismissed as undeserving. As emotions run high it is too much to hope that perspective will prevail and it is sadly inevitable that recent events will be exploited to discredit future dissent and protest.
Many of us have been glued to news listening with disbelief to riot details as they were spelled out in different cities across the country from London to Birmingham to Manchester etc. For disabled people, there is the extra fear of not having access and added stress and anxiety of being unable to get essentials from local shops in the affected areas. The Broken of Britain set out a hastag #disabledriothelp for disabled people in Twitter who felt the need to communicate about worries about the riots .
We joke amongst ourselves as mobility impaired disabled people that our disability gives us an alibi by default because we are not able to loot, break windows and disguise ourselves with hoodies.
It’s too soon to write about the impact of the riots on disabled people and our ability to protest. We can probably assume that the TUC March of the Alternative, Birmingham will definitely not be allowed to march pass the ICC where the Lib Dem annual conference is held this year. But will the demo be curtailed further? What about peaceful anti protests against Atos – will these be jeopardised given the mood of the police and rhetoric from the Con Dem government?
And for those of us disabled people who use the social media to communicate, politicise, campaign and yes, to rant and vent – we will also be affected by David Cameron’s diatribe against social media. A 14 year old schoolboy in Leamington Spa was arrested by police ‘on suspicion of encouraging or assisting criminal disorder. The mind boggles about the reality of the implications that postings to “ incite criminal activity of any kind will be arrested and dealt with accordingly.” Another report of Jason Ulett ‘s arrest adds to my disquiet that the effect of the riot is to descend into some kind of witch hunt.
But we would want to question the reaction to the riots, undoubtedly disruptive and hard on those who have lost property and work, in comparison to the carnage wracked on disabled people’s lives as a result the result of the cuts. How many will give (media)attention and mourn for those who gave up in despair and committed suicides (eleven at last count)? Who counts the stress and worry the real cost of the havoc on disabled people’s lives – those who have to submit to Atos assessments? There was some uproar over the abuse handed out to disabled people in care homes after the Panorama programme but people in care homes are still systematically neglected and left unattended for hours in end. Do we see the same type of punitive and swift reaction for the perpetrators? Today (12th August) there was the ‘first’ Battersea riot-related eviction notice served by Wandsworth Council as a result of Monday night’s rioting and looting in St John’s Road and Lavender Hill. In fact we read that David Cameron has said there will be ‘no “phoney human rights concerns” (about publishing CCTV images of suspects involved in rioting) would be allowed to “get in the way of bringing these criminals to justice”. Is it not because of the same disregard of human rights – the shooting of Mark Duggan – that started the whole spiral of violence? Does he care equally about the woman in wheelchair who was stoned in Sittingbourne by ‘yobs’? What about violence against disabled people?