October 2006

…dropping some of the other issues I write about, and really focusing on disabilities blogging. I don’t feel like I spend enough energy on those issues, or have as strong of connections with that community as I’d like.

So consider this a bit of amends.

I’ve spoken about this before, but I want to return to the idea of the subaltern as provisional. Ze exists on the permission, and ultimately the caprice of power. While the powerful would love nothing more than to be credited with being generous and to receive love for these remarkable acts of toleration, the subaltern is often ungrateful. Why wouldn’t they?

To exist by permission is to constantly know that status is revocable, temporary, and dangerous. The provisional identity always looks to the possibility of loss and disaster.

I was asked once i got to the ill-lit, poorly marked, and hard to find Disabilities Office at Yale, what previous arrangements had be made for me. And if I had documentation for that.

Once again, Sly enters the Kafkaesque world of the medical establishment, relying on doctors to prove to Yale that I’m actually sick. This of course, includes the inept who proscribed the wrong medications, the deceitful that violated my trust, and the plainly unperceptive who I manipulated into getting the medication I actually needed. Between a hospital a thousand miles away that hasn’t seen me in years, and a Doc here that’s seen me once…

Somehow that’s going to be the record by which I will pass into officially recognized disability and out of the “informal” provisions that have been made in the past.

So why is it, as I scramble for medical records that mean nothing to me, that it feels like I’m asking permission all over again? That I’m still a provisional person at Yale?



Gah. I keep telling myself, that someday when I have more traffic, I will keep a more regular writing schedule. Then I tell myself that more folks might read if there was consistent content.

And then I just get really freaking busy.

In lieu of a real post, some links.

Journey Woman writes here, about adjusting to her new cultural location, as a northern black lesbian in a southern black context. A lot of times we’ve seen arguments over intersection and how social status functions across multiple lines. Journey Woman just sets it out there, closing with a reminder of how we depend on our communities. So go and read…

My feeling like this began when I realized that despite my effort I had become THAT girl. I’m the lesbian, feminist, northern girl. I was initially fooled in to some false sense of comfort because I was surrounded by Black people, and White people who at least got the way race plays out in society. I felt comfortable, but it didn’t last, because I soon became aware of the fact that I didn’t fit the “Black” mold…

The 2nd Disability Carnival is up
. Sad that I missed the deadline for entering, I encourage you all to go visit. The theme is on “cure” and how people relate to that idea. This is something I’ve wrestled with for some time, and I think this idea gets to the core of the normative ideas and judgments that preside over us, and how we might get to resistance.

Shannon takes over the term Radical Feminist. It now means a “feminist who is not buying what you are selling.”

And I’ll close by remarking that it is indeed a wonderful day. I’ve got way too much work to do, the sun in shining through the windows, a friend is catching a quick nap before class, I have my ticket for coming home for Thanksgiving, and I had a good weekend with an old friend.



Upon popular demand, I have edited my previous post. If my errors grieve you, await the release of Mozilla 2.0 with fervent hope, for rumor has it that there shall be a spellingcheckerthingy.

With love,


I should be working. I’m not.

I really should be working. But I’m going to keep thinking about this until I write it, so here goes.

I’m personally very frustrated with my exposure with the pro-choice movement right now.

This week, I attended a meeting where I disagreed strongly with much of what was being said, but (and this is most frustrating for me) was not able to respond coherently at the time. The problem seems to lie somewhere in the assumption that the most legitimate pro-choice position lies between radicalism and the pro-lifers. I could not disagree more. Simply, I think it is a logical impossibility. There are no abortion radicals. The straw-prochoicer that is being constructed simply isn’t present in the debate. Abortion as primary birth control is a non-starter, and we cannot construct our own rhetoric as if we need to guard against that possibility. You can talk about providing better education and access to birth control without vilifying the women who for whatever reasons, have had multiple abortions.

But we kept circling around the goodness of having abortion be legal, but that really, really it was so much better to avoid it. Which I’d agree to thus far. Abortion is more costly and difficult for women than other means of birth control and reproductive decision making. But the backgrounded metaphysical assumption that if you’re not killing a baby (at least if you do it early enough) you’re in enough of a ethical gray area that it’s really best if you left…

You can’t assume any of this without Sperm Magic. If we believe women have a right to make choices about unplanned pregnancy, then we have to carefully examine our rhetoric that talks about safe, legal, and rare.

Now…i understand the tactical choices we make, and how to win support gently and not with a hammer. But when the doors are closed, and we have space to dedicate to reproductive justice…I do not want to hear a single word that carries a hint of slut shaming, bad mother implying, selfishness judging, or any of the other crap we are forced to listen to in other parts of the public discourse. None.

There is exactly one consideration in play. Does a woman, informed by the relationships, communities, and values that she holds to be important, want this pregnancy? That’s it.

Back home, one of my friends works with Planned Parenthood…and more than any other person I know, has changed how I see this whole thing. For one simple fact. I trust her. And if i were ever in some situation where the world was screaming at me, I was scared, and didn’t know what the hell to do… I would pray that someone as kind, knowledgeable, respectful, and level headed was there to help me make sense of it all. Simply, I am in awe of her ability to be present to others in difficult and uncertainty, with unwavering dedication to providing not just advice and information, but also respect for the autonomy and choices of the women she encounters for whom facing abortion and unplanned pregnancy is traumatic. I’m tearing up as I write this simply because I’m so damn proud of her, so convinced that the work she does is a critical ministry of compassion and care to people who need it. I am not without my questions or my troubles, and I do not assign over my moral judgment to others. But I know that I haven’t been there, and that even if I had, mine would not be the only experience. So I choose to place my trust in people who are able to honor the self-determination of those who are in a situation of unplanned pregnancy, who supply information and not propaganda, understanding and not guilt.

We don’t just leave people in trouble. And we don’t leave them without choice. Whether this is a terrifying moment of difficulty or one of frustration because of an unexpected birth-control failure, a crisis of health or a moment of education…it cannot be part of the civil compact that we could abandon anyone to ideology alone.


This time, four years ago, I was crying.

I don’t have much to say, not because for lack of thoughts or emotions…but because at the heart of it, I miss him less as a public figure and more as a mentor and friend.

There’s more than a little pride that goes on in Minnesota politics in identifying oneself as close to the Wellstone legacy, and such, so I’ll explain for just briefly. At the time that I was first hospitalized on account of severe panic attacks, I was just closing my time working for Wellstone’s Senate Office in Minnesota.

My supervisor visited me in the hospital, an act of simple and even basic humanity that stunned me because of all the ways in which the mental health ward was presented as foreboding, scary, and alien.

The day I returned home, I got a call from Paul, wishing me well and hoping for my continued recovery.

I’ve scheduled such calls. I’ve written the letters that make it sound like Paul really cared about you. I’ve done all the grunt work that makes such moments of concern and connection possible. And I’m not jaded about it. He meant it all, and encouraged us to mean it too.

Shortly after I finished working with the campaign to go back to school, I was sent a copy of The Conscience of a Liberal. Paul had signed it with a subtle jab at my choice of a schools, a rival to Carlton where he’d taught and often spoke of returning to “retire.” With well wishes he reminded me to keep in touch.

I still do.


The 6th Erase the Racism Carnival is up, including an entry from yours truely.

Go forth and read.


Send your previous memories away. We have never stayed the course.




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