As I began to write this blog, I recanted how the past few weeks and months have been exhausting emotionally and physically. Teaching two new classes, running off to Michigan to do a sexuality and disability retreat that was really difficult for many reasons (article coming soon about that), planning this event, feeling anxious from being behind in grading and contending with ableism has been a lot to manage. I have come home many days this semester crying over feeling like I don’t take enough breaks but feel I don’t get enough done. I also cry about the ableist comments I hear all the damn time – all around me, in many places they shouldn’t be. Places that should be disability friendly are often harsh places for krips, especially the uppity ones, and it’s processing through all of this that I have found myself able to sit and write about Krip Hop in ATL.
Just putting together this event, to celebrate disability, required weathering a lot of ableism. My boss and I had to fight for a ramp for the stage for Krip Hop – which was not won until the week before the event. I had to argue that we needed space for wheelchairs in the crowd – even though I was told it would throw the symmetry of the event space off. I was laughed at for requesting the ramp, as well as the idea of people walking up the ramp. I continue to wonder why a ramp is so humorous. Even though some might not believe I can do it, I played a diplomat or a compromising, happy oppressed person – depends on you frame this – because I just smiled and worked with the jerk to provide access to the artists and our guests. I knew I had to play nice to get what a successful event needed. But, it wore me down because of the direct attack on my people and because I had to silence a just response to his overt ableism. Thinking about it now makes me know this is why many activists quit movements – they just get too worn down by the realities of oppression in their own lives that they cannot muster up the energy to keep fighting against systems of power. They and I just want to survive. I don’t want to be a leader sometimes.
I felt a spectrum of emotions throughout this whole process of planning, execution and celebration of Krip Hop. I cried tears of joy after the event because of the KripLove I felt in the moments we shared celebration of disability, and I cried tears of sorrow because of the reactions I got after the event that it was hard to hear people identify as disabled and even *gasp*as Krips (more on language later). The anxiety I felt before the event was tremendous. I really didn’t want to feel what I felt the last time I hosted a CLD event: like I hurt the center and its constituents because I ranted about my passion, sexuality. Leroy Moore (our delicious keynote, founder of Krip Hop Nation, co-founder of Sins Invalid and Krip brother of mine) procured an MC so I could minimize my voice in the event and more importantly because she had more experience with hip hop. This was also strategic on my part because I wanted to show everyone that these events are not about my ego, nor are they spaces where I need to say my truth – they are spaces for our guests to share their truths about disability.
I tried desperately to walk the tightrope of providing a space for disability celebration without pushing people to the point that they were angry or saddened. Of note is that so many of our panelists and artists said things that I wouldn’t get away with. It makes me wonder if having a sexuality focus has marked me as deviant, and if everything I say is somehow already too charged to hear. But alas, these are questions for another day – you want to read about Krip Hop and that’s the story I will tell you, in five pieces. This post is broken into pieces to ease consumption of a somewhat long tale of journeying through KripLove.