Johnny Crescendo, a former leading UK activist who now lives in America, says that 2013 is the year to get militant.
Stop being wannabees
So now we are all included: the government has learned our language, you got a ramp and you went to school with all those normal people and you’re happy? Well, not happy, but don’t want to cause a fuss or be an angry cripp because you feel you won’t be accepted by those kind supportive non-disabled people. You’re comfy but uncomfortable; included but excluded; satisfied but dissatisfied.
Confused? You will never be non-disabled, and society will not adjust in your lifetime to accept your equality. Unless you take it for yourself, you will die trying not to cause a fuss. So my first resolution to every cripp is to stop pretending that it’s OK. Stop keeping your head down, stop the silence. Be who you are and be proud of it and be aware of what is really going on around you and get angry about it!
Lead: don’t follow, let others join you
I hate leadership and love organising, but in the context of the struggle in the UK, I am worried that we are being led by a left-wing coalition rather than really thinking about what we want. Times are hard and the government is not talking to disabled people and is not involving us in the process of reform. So people are dying not because of the reform, but because of the uninformed process. I could not campaign for us to be deserving poor or state beggars, but some of the rhetoric coming out of the campaigns seems to put many of us in that place in society. I believe we are much, much more than that.
It’s time to really think and discuss what we want and not react to what this foul government wants. It’s time for an alternative which is not preserving the shitty system we already have. But we can only do this as disabled people, by coming together as disabled people without those clever non-disabled folks.
Don’t mourn, organise
We know who our leaders are, but do we really know who our organisers are? I hope to god that they are not all non-disabled. While our leaders mourn, our organisers organise. Give organisers resources and pay them to organise disabled people into a movement not based on political ideology, but on the issues that confront them. It’s time to rewrite our core demands, it’s time to listen to the ordinary cripp.
I was so proud when I saw the demonstrations that took place in the UK in 2012, but no arrest. About 39 people a month are dying as a result of the process of reassessment, but no arrests. The Independent Living Fund is gone, but still no arrests.
I am an advocate of non-violence and an advocate for civil disobedience in the face of injustice. I am also a big fan of Steve Biko who said that under apartheid, black people would act with a greater sense of urgency. So I ask myself why no arrests, and hope that the answer isn’t that we are being led by non-disabled people, or worse, disabled people who aren’t facing the bullet? True civil rights campaigns always have arrests.
Let’s work together
This is the toughest resolution. I hear of grass roots splits, ideological differences, personality clashes and old mantras being rolled out like ‘rights not charity’! How about ‘rights not benefits’? ‘Rights not hand-outs’?
It seems to me that we have to find a way to work together, starting with those who have money putting into grass roots campaign defined by the grass roots and brought together by new organisers. In fact, they have to fund that first. We are a long way from trusting each other and we can only get that from working together, acting together and eventually going to jail together for our beliefs and dream of true society.