pulling it togetherSubmitted by MadMiddletown on Mon, 09/28/2009 - 9:24pm
Middletown/Wesleyan's new (campus) Icarus is still not off the ground. Still waiting on our listserv and website space from the uni. No posters (we've got some possible ideas drafted on the computer, but nothing's gone up) no emails, nothing.
One part of the hold up is figuring out how we can complement/distinguish TIP from/and add to the disability rights group that we want to work with in the initial email, to be sent out to the kids who've already signed up and reposted across other anti-oppression listservs. I'm hung up about how to go about this without being redundant or stepping on any toes.
Based on what I've heard and the notes summarizing the first meeting (Nick and I had to miss the second), while open to mad folks, WSDR's focus is first and foremost on learning and physical "disablities," (quotes because I don't like the term and know some non-mad people don't either, but it's what the group goes by) as none of the discussion surrounding the use of "disability" or inclusion of the mad appeared in the minutes.
I'm pretty damn overwhelmed with self-doubt and confusion about our mission. Part of me thinks that WSDR should stay as it is, that it's a needed safe space for those facing similar yet different kinds of oppression, and that we're (=me and Nick for now, hopefully a few others soon) being presumptuous bringing up/forcing a space for non-disability indentified/neurodiverse/mad folks ourselves in the group. For my part, I think I'll keep attending and step aside as an ally (the kids involved are pretty awesome) whether or not we collaborate as much as I'd initially expected.
I'm also worried that folks might resent TIP, since WSDR's been around for a year and includes at least one mad member (not sure how ze identifies - mad, disabled, or whathaveyou). Which is why we really need to figure out what the fuck we're doing.
EDIT: WSDR's awesome and welcoming of mad members and their input. There is no problem here.
The clearest distinction I see between the two is that WSDR is focused on much needed reform, works with the admin on a fairly regular basis, and is fighting for inclusion within the uni structure - a rights-based approach perhaps? Whereas my dream for TIP is that we'd take a viz/pride-based approach independent of OBHS/disability services and not bother with petitoning the admin. Instead, we could build a new, independent mutual aid network, tailored towards our particular madnesses.
WSDR could definitely help us out (if they're willing) by throwing at least a token mention of madness in their frosh/prof orientation/training guides and info about resources.
EDIT II: As above, WSDR does include mad folks. They also promote visibility and have lots of rad projects for the year.
And there's the issue of direct action in the public sphere. Guerrilla performance art, activism, and viz. How do we highlight psychophobia and "sane" privilege (there's gotta be a better word for this) without just exploiting our privilege as students at a private, expensive university? I've met kids and have friends who've been locked up for doing the kind of shit taken for granted as pretty inoffensive activism by Wes kids just because they were doing it while experiencing an extreme state of consciousness.
And to what extent can/should we include the greater Middletown community? Wes is NOT a safe space anyone who can't pass as a student and/or sane, and I'm afraid that the moderation of such an amalgamation would be a pain in the ass, to say the least, making sure we as Wes students (or, in Nick's case, as a young white passing man who resembles Wes students) check our priv and don't dominate the discussion.
So many questions, so few answers - we really need more input! But how do we even start getting people involved without knowing how to promote ourselves and what the fuck we're doing?