Friday, June 28, 2013

Wow, really?

So you're hosting an exhibit on disability and accessibility at your museum.  Cool!  It's within a day's drive of my house, so can my family come see it?  Oh.  Okay, never mind.

(Thanks to Rachel Cohen-Rattenberg for the heads up.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America

Check out the latest virtual exhibit on disability history, from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History!  From the press release:
        The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has just launched EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America to explore themes and events related to the history of people with disabilities in the U.S. and offer a new perspective on American history. This online exhibition is a first-of-its-kind image compilation that provides access to objects and stories related to the history of disability that have been collected at the museum for more than 50 years. The information is presented in English and Spanish, and the website is designed to be accessible to all users, including those using specialized software for vision or hearing impairments. All pages on the website follow federal accessibility guidelines, which are outlined on the site’s Accessibility Statement page.

        “Many stories and events related to people with disabilities never make it into the history books or shared public memories,” said Katherine Ott, curator of medical science at the museum. “Knowing this history deepens the understanding of the American experience and reveals how complicated history is.”

        The website explores such themes as identity and stereotypes; the importance of place, laws and legislation; home and daily life; technology, institutions and schools; eugenics; and work. Featured objects include prosthetics, adapted kitchen utensils, activists’ buttons and T-shirts, Section 504 (a federal law guaranteeing rights to persons with disabilities) protest artifacts, medical devices, text telephones for the deaf and Braille writers, wheelchairs, design plans for improving accessibility in public spaces and about 300 snapshots, tintypes and cabinet cards. Each image has descriptive detail.
Now here's my personal interest (in addition to my scholarly interest) in this exhibit.  It includes my son's first ankle-foot orthotics (AFOs), which were made for him in about 1998, and donated to the Smithsonian in 2002.  I haven't seen them since then--they look so tiny!  See if you can find them. 

Meanwhile, we posed for an "update" photo with one of the exhibit's posters, and with an array of all his AFOs since that first pair, including his current pair on his feet.
Mother and son, sitting next to a row of ankle-foot orthotics of increasing sizes; the poster for "EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America" is taped to the wall above the orthotics.  (Photo: Helen Turley)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Guest post: "Krip-Hop Nation’s Seed Growing Roots in Africa," by Leroy F. Moore Jr.

[Note:  Leroy F. Moore Jr. of Berkeley, California, USA, is a Black disabled poet, activist, journalist, and founder of Krip-Hop Nation, an international collective of musicians with disabilities.  He offered to write up an note about his activities for Disability Studies Temple U., and I said "yes, please!" Enjoy. --PLR]

Zululand Gospel Choir performing in a studio

Since I was 10 years old I wanted to visit South Africa.  I was involved in the anti-apartheid movement in the US and always thought about my brothers and sisters with disabilities who lived under apartheid and even wrote a paper in high school but back then and even now there is very little information here in the US about South Africans with disabilities.

Now I’m an adult in my forties and still haven’t made that trip to South Africa, however nowadays because of the internet, my journalism and the creation of Krip-Hop Nation, I’m getting closer to finally making that trip to South Africa.   My interest now is connecting disabled artists/activists/poets/musicians who are African Americans to our brothers and sisters who share the same talents and identities in South Africa under Krip-Hop Nation and an organization in South Africa.  The bigger picture/plan is to have an event and networking session in South Africa between Krip-Hop Nation and South African organizations that share our mission. 

As a journalist, I kept in contact with some musicians/poets/activists in South Africa by interviewing them for my columns.  In 2009 I interviewed South African Disabled Musicians Association and in 2010 I interviewed South African Deejay Kabila and recently I interviewed poet Mak Manaka.   I was one of the first journalists with a disability in the USA to write about the now famous African musicians with disabilities like Oscar winner Prudence Mabhena and award-winning Staff Benda Bilili of the Congo.  Mabhena is even writing for my Krip-Hop book. Krip-Hop Nation’s internet radio started by Binki Woi of Germany has played the music of musicians with disabilities in South Africa.  We are excited about these connections and with our new partnership with G-Tazz Records and the Zululand Gospel Choir of South Africa

Krip-Hop Nation’s mission is to educate the music, media industries and general public about the talents, history, rights and marketability of Hip-Hop artists and other musicians with disabilities. Krip-Hop main objective is to get the musical talents of hip-hop artists with disabilities into the hands of media outlets, educators, and hip-hop, disabled and race scholars, youth, journalists and hip-hop conference coordinators. Krip-Hop Nation’s public education has many avenues i.e. Internet magazine’s columns, workshops, lectures, performances, internet radio shows, publications and our famous mixtape series to name a few.  We report on the latest news about musicians with disabilities with a strong view of political and culture pride of all of our identities.

Krip-Hop Nation has put out music since 2008 with our mixtapes and our recent CD deals with police brutality against people with disabilities.  With Binki Woi of Germany and Laady MJ of the United Kingdom and Ronnie Ronnie of Africa we helped formed what is now known as Mcees With Disabilities, MWD that is under Krip-Hop Nation, and we have traveled to the biggest Disabled/Deaf Arts festival in 2010 in Liverpool, UK.   Krip-Hop Nation is international with artists and new chapters forming in Germany, Italy and newly form in South Africa.  We have artists from all over the world.  Krip-Hop Nation has two ongoing columns one in a print magazine, I.D.E.A.L. Magazine and online column at Poor Magazine.  We always say that Krip-Hop Nation’s is more than music, its about education and advocacy.

Krip-Hop Nation and I are excited about our new working relationship with G-Tazz Records, the Zululand Gospel Choir and Your True Standpoint of South Africa.  I think there is so much to do to educate through music, art and writing about people with disabilities in both countries.  We can both offer each other and our countries so much.  I have so many ideals from songs, music videos, and books to a conference etc.  Krip-Hop Nation wants to learn in this new working relationship and wants to offer our skills and voice as we’ve done so far through media, disability and poverty scholarships and so much more.

At this point, after talking via the internet, Zululand Choir agreed to do a Gospel/Hip-Hop song for Krip-Hop Nation that many including Phumlani Wackomagic Banda, Franklyn Mkhize, Johannes S. Kumalo, Kiboot and myself have been working on the lyrics. Phumlani told me why this new working relationship is so important to South Africans with and without disabilities in his words:
    Krip-Hop nation relationship with G-tazz records will also help a lot even at schools to do motivational talks and show students how disability can occur through the violence in schools and our long term goal that will help. With Krip-Hop Nation, we want to establish a center here in Richards Bay, a town in KwaZulu-Natal of South Africa where people with disabilities can come out and learn a skill, music, writing or whatever because there are those who are sitting at home doing nothing.
Krip-Hop Nation is making friends all over Africa.  Dagnachew B. Wakene (LL.B., M.MPhil) of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is a fan of Krip-Hop Nation and is trying to get us link up with a dynamic, defiant and phenomenal group of disabled performers (music, dance, etc) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - the second largest nation in Africa (in terms of population), the only uncolonized African nation and Host of the African Union HQ.

We hope all of this and more will lead to Krip-Hop Nation travel to South Africa for a conference/networking/concert.  It finally looks like after all of these years one of my dreams might come true and that is to not only to travel to South Africa but to make some really deep connections through cultural work including music, poetry and so much more.  Talks are in the works for music, conference, poetry/lyrics book and more and of course some of these interviews, events and conversations will be in my upcoming Krip-Hop book.  Coming up for Krip-Hop Nation are festivals in Liverpool, UK called the DADA Festival and we just got invited to help plan and attend Hip-Hop & Disability portion of the 2014 Abilities Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada and our long awaited international CD. 

I hope the readers can help all of this come to reality.  In the meantime go to google and check out Zululand Choir’s videos.

There is so much to do and Krip-Hop Nation is so excited.  Please contact us at and you can find us on Facebook and twitter under Krip-Hop.

Looking forward to a bright future!

By Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Founder of Krip-Hop Nation