Ep. 8: Keegan Prempeh, Jade Byard Peek, Lydia Collins and Pomaa Prempeh

March 29, 2021 00:42:31
Ep. 8: Keegan Prempeh, Jade Byard Peek, Lydia Collins and Pomaa Prempeh
To Be Continued: A Stonecroft Symposium Podcast
Ep. 8: Keegan Prempeh, Jade Byard Peek, Lydia Collins and Pomaa Prempeh
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Show Notes

Welcome to Episode 8 of “To Be Continued: A Stonecroft Symposium Podcast”! 

In this episode, Keegan Prempeh talks with Jade Bayard Peek, Lydia Collins and Pomaa Prempeh about Black disability justice, community care and access intimacy in the context of Covid.

“To Be Continued: Troubling the Queer Archive” is on view at Carleton University Art Gallery. Featuring: Barry Ace, Howard Adler, Aymara Alvarado Sanchez, Pansee Atta, Rosalie Favell, Ashley Grenstone, RJ Jones, Don Kwan, Ed Kwan AKA China Doll, Kole Peplinskie, Adrienne Row-Smith, Pride Is Political, Shanghai Restaurant. 

Produced by Fin Xuan Tran, Anna Shah Hoque and Cara Tierney, this episode was recorded in Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin territory. 

The graphic for this podcast features beaded pins by Ottawa-based artist and musician Larissa Desrosiers (Anishinaabe/Ojibwe). The pins were commissioned as gifts for the podcast participants. You can find more of her work at @bangishimonbeadwork. 

CUAG acknowledges with sincere gratitude the support of the Stonecroft Foundation for the Arts, which promotes education in the visual arts and fosters the public’s appreciation of the visual arts. 

Find more about the exhibition on CUAG's website: http://cuag.ca 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to Tubi continued a Stonecraft symposium podcast on today's episode Keegan PrimePay chats with Jade by RP, Lydia Collins, and Poma prem Bay talking about black disability justice in the context of COVID everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode. I'm very, very excited to share this experience with you to daily take space, to talk about an important topic. Speaker 1 00:00:40 Um, and today we'll be discussing community care in the context of COVID-19. Um, and before we kind of get into that, I would just like to take some time to acknowledge the initial NABI as the, uh, ancestral keepers of this land. They've looked after this land for a time at Memorial, and it's really important for me as somebody who identifies as a first-generation immigrant to acknowledge the processes that have resulted in my being here. And that really speaks to how colonization white supremacy, capitalism, all these things have made it so that the people who have historically taken care of this land, who have been here for a long time are so disenfranchised and so removed from their culture and access to resources. Um, and I think it's really important to mention that in the context of COVID because, you know, as we know indigenous folks and black folks as well are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and all of the kind of severe consequences of that have come with it. Speaker 1 00:01:34 So I just really wanted to take some time to really say that, um, and just think the caretakers of this land, um, for all their hard work for all the medicine that they give, um, and you know, to really position myself as a guest on this territory, my name is Keegan. <inaudible> my pronouns. Are they them or Caesar? Yeah. Living here in Odawa. Um, I have a background in social work and an educational background. Um, and right now I do anonymous HIV testing at a local community health center, but I also have a lot of experience in community organizing. Um, you know, I've worked in peer support for trans and gender diverse people. I've done some organizing around, um, like pride and, you know, um, presence of police and other kinds of state agencies within pride parades in Ottawa. I was fortunate enough to be a guest on a previous episode where I talked a bit about those experiences and the relationship between art and social movements. But today, like I said, we're going to focus on what that looks like in the context of COVID 19 and the pandemic. Um, so that's me super sad to be here with you today. And now I will ask my colleague Lydia to introduce herself, Hey, everyone, so happy to be here. My name is Linnea. I am a artist and activist and an educator, sexual health educator living also in our region. I'm originally from the Niagara region and yes, very happy to be here. And my work is very much contextualized in decolonization. Speaker 2 00:03:00 And I work specifically with African Caribbean and black communities specifically here in Ottawa at the moment in regards to sexual health strategies. And I mentioned strategies and things like that. And yeah, I'm very excited to get into this conversation tonight. Speaker 3 00:03:15 Awesome. Thank you so much. Speaker 2 00:03:17 All right. Hi, I am Poma. I use she, her and he him pronouns. I am a black Dyke. I'm currently studying feminist counseling and advocacy and practicing magic every day, particularly the forms of tarot and astrology. I am a fiction writer as well, and I am a who, which I studied tarot and astrology. Yes, that's relevant. Speaker 3 00:03:42 Of course it's relevant. I'm Speaker 2 00:03:44 A care worker. And I like to root myself in the fact that I am a black lesbian with a capital P. Speaker 3 00:03:50 Lovely. Thank you so much for that. Amazing. Uh, hi, uh, my name is Jay peak, quick way. <inaudible> I am very happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me a little bit about my background is I'm African Nova Scotian as well as <inaudible>. Uh, my background is right now, I'm working as a director of advocacy and community care out of client space to LGBTQ organization and charity here in Ottawa. But my background primarily is I studied art history and critical theory focusing on African indigenous methodologies specifically in North America. So, um, it is so interesting to see how communities have transformed over time, um, and the resilience of that. And I, I take that work wherever I go, but I am so happy that I've been able to find myself here in Ottawa for the past three years. Uh, my, my work has been also working, uh, in pride as well as working as an artist and as a social practice in terms of education, being able to work with different organizations and such. Speaker 3 00:04:56 And so, and being coming from a very toxic environment called the student movement. It is so nice to sort of find myself in a soft landing, even during the pandemic, um, where I can go back to where my roots are originally on, which is working for community as opposed to, uh, working for lobbying. So I'm glad to be here, um, and, and very happy to be part of this discussion. Thank you so much for introducing yourselves. Um, today our conversation is structured around a really amazing text and it's called care work, dreaming disability justice by Leah Lakshmi, Sarah Messina, Leah is a really notable disability rights activist. And, you know, a lot of their work focuses on what it means to support accessibility and support and center disabled lives and people who are living with disabilities. Um, and of course, you know, disability can be defined in a whole lot of different ways. There are all different kinds of disabilities and people's definitions might change between individuals, but I thought it was really relevant given the health crisis that Speaker 1 00:05:58 We're living in and how for so many of us we're dealing with increased negative health outcomes because of isolation, because maybe, you know, you have COVID you had, or have COVID-19 and it's having really severe effects on you. Um, or maybe, you know, just not being able to hug people is really, you know, messing with your mental health. And so I thought it would be really relevant for this conversation today. And so I'll just read the kind of description on the book. So in this collection of essays, Lambda, literary award, winning writer and longtime activist and performer performance artists, Layah explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centers a lives and leadership of sick and disabled, queer trans black, and Brown people with knowledge and gifts for all care work is a mapping of access. As radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer people of color are doing to find each other and to build power and community and a toolkit for everybody who wants to build radically resilient, sustainable communities of liberation, where no one's left behind powerful and passionate care work is crucial and necessary call to arms. Speaker 1 00:07:00 And so, um, Lydia will be answering kind of the first question or responding. Um, but every question is kind of proceeded by a quote from the text. And so I'll begin with the quote by saying to exist is to resist this phrase speaks to the ways in which the everyday struggles to live and survive by sick and disabled QD BiPAP, and that's queer and trans black indigenous people of color, our real activism. When you're lying in bed, trying to breathe, talking someone through a panic attack, fighting for medical care, creating care webs for housing and medical supplies. These are all forms of activism. And so Lydia, I'd like to ask you, what are the key things you've done to resist oppression or like general unwellness during this past year of social distancing and quarantines. Speaker 4 00:07:43 Thanks, Keegan. I love this quote. I think it's incredibly powerful. And especially as someone who works in the community health sector, um, and not only that, but as a black queer woman who works with people with black communities, particularly I, one thing I've really focused on and noticed this past year almost more than ever is how heavy that is. Right. I think people underestimate the heaviness of frontline workers who identify with the groups that they are serving. Um, so as someone who works again with black communities, particularly being a black woman, myself, you know, the, the kind of resources and supports that the folks I work with need are also supports that I need, right? So sometimes a bit complex and a bit heavy. And so some of the biggest ways that I've been resisting unwellness during this past year, um, with social distance, with quarantine also with even the heightened attention to anti-black racism, um, and all the many things going on, it's been really to constantly choose radical care. Speaker 4 00:08:55 And I do some workshops on community care and I'm radical self care and kind of what that means. And essentially for folks who might have not heard the term radical self-care before, it's really this idea that it goes a step further than this kind of mainstream idea of self care that we have. That's very much to consumerism and it's kind of just like, okay, you're, you're having a bad day, have a bathroom, some wine. And of course we all love baths and wine. I'm like, that's dope. But when it comes to things that people are dealing with, like racial trauma, sometimes wellness and self-care looks a lot different, um, and caring for ourselves looks a lot different than it can be things that are seemingly mundane to a lot of people, things like asking for help, things like, um, asking somebody to drive us, to go get groceries, asking someone to walk our kids. Speaker 4 00:09:44 These are things that are part of community care are part of supporting people within the community and ensuring that we have what we need in order to just not only survive, but to be well. And one thing that I often try to remind folks is that, you know, the thing with radical self care is that it really does rely on community care, right? There's this often individualistic capitalist idea of what self care looks like. And it's always very self isolating away from everybody else. Whereas when we look at radical self care, it really is this idea of relying on community in order to be able to take care of yourself, right? Like we can tell people, you want to have some time to, I dunno, go grocery shopping, for example, or time to do yoga or a time to masturbate, right? Like all these different kinds of things. Speaker 4 00:10:34 Well, maybe you need somebody to watch your kids, or maybe you need somebody to lend you the money, right. To, to get groceries. Or maybe you need somebody who can, um, just sit and be with you for a little bit. So really I've been trying to hone in on those things of, you know, looking around at my circle of support and, you know, being very transparent with the people in my life about what I need and how I rely on community in order to take care of myself, especially through, at the time like this, that is so long, first of all, it feels like it's never ending, um, and tiring and heavy and scary and, and frustrating. And so community care and, and yeah, really relying on community, especially as a community worker is something I find so, uh, necessary. Speaker 1 00:11:24 That makes so much sense. Thank you so much for saying that, you know, and as you're talking, you were really reminds me of the quote by Audra Lord that says, I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent caring for myself is an act of survival. You know, lots of people quote this, or quote Audra, Lord, and talk about, you know, kind of the capitalist perspective that you mentioned of self-care, um, what'd, you know, it can be nice, you know, going to the spa, going to Nordic, you know, Uber eats, whatever it is, those are all like things that can be really, but, you know, she was really talking about it in the context of resistance of organizing that choosing to care for herself as a black queer woman is, you know, is so radical and caring for herself might mean, you know, joining the black Panthers, or it might mean, you know, helping a breakfast program happen or, you know, publishing works on black queer love. Speaker 1 00:12:15 And so those are, I think it's really important to kind of recognize that self-care is necessary, but the ways that we frame self-care, I think we need to be really intentional about it because I think it can kind of lend itself to complacency where, you know, there's all this horrific stuff going on around us, you know, all these uprisings and instances of anti-blackness trans transphobia, you know, all these things. Um, and you know, definitely we should, you know, take bubble baths and, you know, get some wine or whatever it is that you need to do. Um, but in terms of making systemic change, that makes our, you know, kind of situations less horrific. That's not going to cut it. You know what I mean? That's part of it for sure, but there's other parts of it too. So thank you so much, uh, for that Lydia. Speaker 1 00:12:58 And so now, um, I will move on to the section where Jane will be sharing her perspectives. Yeah. And so the quote reads, I argue for the radical notion that we deserve to be loved love in action is when we strategize to create cross disability access basis. When we refuse to abandon each other, when we, as disabled people fight for the needs of our disabled siblings, when disabled people get free, everyone gets free. And so Jade, what are some strategies you've employed in your communities to meet a variety of access needs, especially in the context of online events and outreach. Speaker 3 00:13:34 Uh, thank you. Uh, thank you, Keegan. And also thank you, Lydia, for your words, it's definitely has sort of, again, invigorated me and sort of, uh, specifically looking at sort of where have we come from. And I think specifically looking at sort of like the context of being plugged in all the time and being online and sort of like, what do those needs look like? Uh, it has been a whirlwind. And I think oftentimes we forget that those of us were, you know, participating in collective and community care. Often many of us are already sick as it is. And I think that's the one thing that seems to, you know, often get overlooked. Um, and I think to highlight is that you're often having people who were dealing with their own, uh, chaos and health while also trying to support health. Um, and so you've seen sort of people trying to navigate sort of that burnout. Speaker 3 00:14:22 And, you know, oftentimes prior to the pandemic, you know, you can go home, you can go hang out with your friends in the park, you could, you know, be able to sort of receive that care and that love and those relationships that you have built. And so for many of us, our relationships, our support structures, you know, especially someone like me, you know, I, you know, I have a distant relationship with my family. It's very specific, um, because there's a lot of harm and, and struggle there. And, you know, am I am in a privileged situation where I can, you know, I'm away from home and there's many, uh, many folks who are now trapped in their homes, trapped in environments where they cannot escape. And so when looking at how you address these needs is that there are so many needs of them also become conflicting and then requirments that are also, you know, a type of care and massage that requires more than just one person, but a team. Speaker 3 00:15:12 And so part of the strategies is really thinking about what are ways to engage folks online that is not always surrounded that with pain and suffering. The second we sense, like, you know, we've had, uh, an entire year, especially for black femmes and black folks and queer black folks have just seeing black death every way you scroll black metal everywhere you go black that black squares, you know, there was a lot of tokenization, but when we talk about radical, radical love, and, and, and also talk about radical self care, uh, you know, it is, it is really hard to sort of be able to, to see all of those impacts of, you know, of, of seeing sort of like being on an online form where you're seeing violence against your own community, being shared all the time, and then being unable to sort of escape that because if you're going online and maybe you're just going to on messenger or Instagram to check with a friend and message them or something of that sort, and then you're consistently being able to see all these things. Speaker 3 00:16:09 So it's been really hard. I think for one of the things that I was privileged to be able to employ this year, uh, with a community colleague of mine at Fe Johnstone, is that we ran trans Fest this year. And oftentimes we would be able to, you know, run a March and it was more advocacy based. And there was a lot of time for us to sort of have a conversation about what are, what are people in our community actually looking for and what are ways that we can come together to sort of have those conversations that normally people aren't able to have. And what does it also look like to sort of build community and build conversations with many of us, you know, who are outside of the city as well, and where are we able to sort of receive support and get access to knowledge? Speaker 3 00:16:56 Um, that may be outside of our immediate communities, especially since, you know, we are, you know, many people are unable to participate in events and that has been, you know, one of the big biggest struggles for us is how do you make online meetings, not just a zoom call every day. You know, people are going in for school, they're on a zoom call. People are going in for work meetings, they're on a zoom call, they're going in and, you know, talking with their families and friends, maybe it's on a zoom call. And so it's this constant surveillance and black people are consistently surveillanced BiPAP folks, cutie bipods are constantly being surveilled even by the police, by the government, no matter what the case may be. And so, especially being online, when you see that green light flashing on you, that causes a lot of anxiety. Speaker 3 00:17:38 And so you have a situation where we have a lot of people who are, you know, who maybe will come in, but they tap out, you know, they might have a need where, you know, they can't be on video or they are on, they're unable, you know, they're too anxious and, and you know, and they're having a hard time and then you might have someone else. Who's also having a hard time because they're afraid that they're getting photo bombed or someone's listening to them or working. And so you have these situations where people are trying to find access to space, but the space might be really hard for someone to navigate or there might be conflicting views and needs. And so going back to sort of the head where some people taking care of sick people, one of the strategies I've employed is telling people I'm not okay. Speaker 3 00:18:18 I, you know, I think oftentimes when we are in the non-for-profit, you know, someone is obviously, you know, an offering care or community work or wherever you are, you know, frontline is that you, you know, everyone expresses for you to have, you know, to be strong and to be brave and to, to carry all this labor without a sweat and a smile on your face. And, you know, and, and we do in many of us do that and, and do the best of our ability, but I'm straight out honest, you know, with where, you know, failures or to allow someone to know that also you're not alone and not being, you know, okay. And that there's many folks, you know, as someone who is, you know, as neurodivergent myself, I had a very hard time adjusting to online and, and a lot of people had a hard time adjusting. Speaker 3 00:19:04 And so you're on that journey with them. And, and I think that that is so important for us, that of doing frontline work is yes, there's always a boundary in terms of providing care, but, but letting someone know that you also are going through that pain at the same time, even if it's different, but a, some sort of pain that you're going through has been really, really helpful in building patients. You know, we, we're coming from, you know, hot of the presses of 2019 where cancel culture. And, you know, we were like, I'm in conversations now where transformative justice is really, really being a large conversation about how do we address, you know, harm that is caused. And especially looking at the way in which, you know, a lot of us, you know, I myself have become more irritable and, and, you know, with my depression and with my own illnesses where you, you sort of have trauma responses that come out and other people where, you know, is where people are having trauma, where they may have had the capacity to withstand, you know, something that was said. Speaker 3 00:20:01 And because we haven't been in person for so long, we'd lost that social either. Sometimes our social cues, sometimes our social dynamics sometimes, you know, we're so stressed out and overloaded. We may say something that might be problematic, but someone is already hurt. And so how are we as individual, especially online, curating a space and creating a space where we can, you know, not only, uh, support, but also allow ourselves to grow and be okay to, to, um, to love each other and to love our mistakes and know that we can sort of work on that and that, you know, as much as the impact is going to hurt, and as much as the, the intent, um, you know, may have been pure or may have come from a place, you know, allowing everyone to sort of have the agency to express how they're feeling, but also being able to, you know, uh, move about where, what they're having issues. Speaker 3 00:20:52 And then I think that, um, for us, or at least for me in terms of, is this being that has been very helpful in sort of working out these issues, whether it's a conflict of access needs is being able to address it from the very beginning. Um, and being able to have a conversation where, you know, where people are able to sort of say what they, they need in order to move in a space and sort of finding compromises that way. It's not easy. This is not, you know, easy at all to meet all the needs, but as people who are providing care, especially myself, I've made lots of mistakes, especially online and accessibility online. There was a lot of things that I shouldn't have known and didn't learn until having, you know, dealing with the pandemic either it'd be video descriptions or having scripts. Speaker 3 00:21:34 You know, these are the things that folks in certain cases that are able and able to, you know, who have been going from one place to one place or organizing in person, these were things that looked a lot different. And now that we're online, it has also brought to a lot of attention, sort of the communities that we've always missed. And that is also really disappointing that it's taken a pandemic for us to sort of access that. And so these are challenges that even myself, you know, I've had learned so much in, even in the course of enema, not only about what my access needs are and how the pandemic has affected me, but also how the, how until the pandemic happened, where a lot of the ways in which we will providing, you know, collective care or providing accessibility so that care can be, even be able to take place at the very beginning was already stalled in the fact that, you know, many of us were providing care, did not have the infrastructure or the things to provide the amount of accessibility that was sort of needed. Speaker 3 00:22:28 And so that's why they end up failing, being able to sort of work with people and sort of being able to sort of like build in and yes, and, and sort of grow as opposed to, you know, really coming from that, you know, capitalist environment where we need to cancel because something a mistake has happened. And so I, there has been so much patients since this pandemic of love because we all heard and really tender right now. And I've noticed that with the BiPAP community as well. And so those are sort of, the strategy really has been just a down to earth approach of being like, what are your needing, what, what is happening right now through kindness? One last thing where I work is that we, you know, creating spaces has been such a top down approach for many years in many different places where it's like, Oh, I, well, I have an idea because I've gone to this university or I've been in this non-for-profit forever, and you have this sort of environment where like, people want this group, or people want this and that. Speaker 3 00:23:20 And for me, it's like, we have to go beyond that, but what are people wanting? And so part of my work at kindness, you know, creating pods where people can not only meet people, but also learn to have the confidence to organize, you know, especially online, you know, I'm an organizer by trade. You know, this, you know, working in the grassroots has always been, you know, where I am, but since the pandemic, but even, you know, even moving to Ottawa, there has been such a disconnect in that. And so how are we able to sort of bring people together who may be anxious, who want to create spaces or want to be part of spaces where the pandemic has sort of left them behind? And so how are we able to create places for people to tap into their brilliance and tap into the love that they have that has been, you know, without actually, you know, creating a space that's already pre-programmed, but having one that's built from the ground up. And I really think that like the one that has accessibility right on the table, so you're not having to clean up afterwards or, you know, really strive to build those foundations out, you know, and, and recognizing that even us as this, you know, folks who are mad or folks of us who are, you know, are sick or disabled, that we also have the ability to be lateral as well. And I think, you know, being humbled by that, um, I think has been helpful. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:24:32 Uh, so much so that Jade, you said so many good points and I think it's, yeah, it's really poignant for me when we're thinking about community. When we think about what exactly does community mean, you know, like, because we can share certain like identities and, you know, have some experiences, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we know how to treat each other well. And maybe it's because we've never been taught how to treat other people. Well, people have been so mean to us that we just like internalized, you know, all these horrific things and behaviors. And so I think when we, you know, kind of approach community, I think it's important to be really intentional with what we, you know, kind of how we consider communities to function. And to me in an ideal world, community would mean that we feel safe with each other, that we feel connected to each other, that we're accountable to each other, but that's not necessarily easy to do, as you mentioned for sure. Speaker 1 00:25:22 So I appreciate your commentary just to wrap up this really awesome and important conversation. I'm going to read a definition of what's known as access intimacy. So that's created by another disability, justice activists, Mia Mingus, and basically, um, access intimacy is that elusive hard to describe feeling when someone gets your access needs, the kind of airy comfort that your disabled self feels with someone on a purely access level, it can happen with strangers, disabled or not, and sometimes it can be built over years. It could also be the way your body relaxes and open up with someone when all your access needs are being met is not dependent on someone having a political understanding of disability, ableism or access access. Intimacy is not charity resentfulness enacted intimidation or humiliating trade for survival or an ego boost. In fact, all of this threatens and kills access intimacy is a freeing light, loving feeling. Speaker 1 00:26:15 It brings the people who are apart closer together, it builds and deepens connections. I'm curious if each of you could just briefly mention one example of access intimacy in your life. So for instance, you know, in my kind of life, you know, I'm live with people who, and I also deal with chronic pain and fatigue. And so when I'm feeling better, sometimes, you know, I'll cook for some of my roommates and then maybe they'll order me food. That's kind of like one example access intimacy, or, you know, maybe your partner is having a lot of pain because of Speaker 3 00:26:44 The kind of set up that they have at home. Is it economically friendly? And so then you buy them like an ergonomic chair that's like really great for their back pain. So they're just kind of brief examples. I would really be grateful if each of you could provide just kind of one brief example of what access intimacy can look like for you. Speaker 4 00:27:01 Yeah. I think that's such a dope term. And, um, for me, you know, my partner and I are both, um, type one diabetics, so I guess it was faith. Um, and I would say what that access intimacy looks like sometimes in our relationship is her testing my blood, you know, even in the middle of the night when I'm sleeping and saying, you know, you seem like your blood might've been low or encouraging me to never forget to bring a juice box wherever I go, or those small kinds of things in relation to my diabetes, that most people around me don't have that kind of understanding of she kind of really bridges those gaps, which makes for a really intimate and safe space within our own home. Speaker 3 00:27:46 Yeah, it is hard because trauma has caused me to not always receive help. And I think that's something that is so beautiful. I think about access intimacy. Is that like I, so I, I will give one that I say that I give and one where I received. So I'll provide two examples. One example was that I have a relationship where my sister is always very lonely. And so for me, you know, she always wants me to like call her or have people surrounded in a speak with her. And so an example is that, especially during the pandemic, you know, it became a natural thing. It wasn't something that we discussed, but just knowing each other and how we are. Um, I talk to my sister every day, um, and I have not always had a wonderful relationship with my sister. And so it is something that is, so I think positive, I think that has happened where my sister can sometimes meet my access needs, even when I didn't think she could ever. Speaker 3 00:28:41 And I think in a way in which access intimacy has happened in terms of where I, you know, I'm one of those people who go on social media just to rant and then I never go back on it. Um, but, uh, I had a situation where I lived in a queer trans house for about three years where we prioritized, you know, having rooms for people who needed to crash for months on end and be able to provide sort of like, you know, and the people who had the economic stability at the time to rent the room. So we sort of had like a transplant talk house in Halifax. It was beautiful. Um, but I had taken on the internet as one of the bills because we had people whose names, they couldn't have their names either because they were non status or other reasons why they could not be on bills. And so I had taken that initiative on, but I had transferred it over things didn't go through. I sorta got lied to by a few white roommates who had moved in at a certain point in time. And I ended up pulling around $500 and I was about to get sent to collections, like folks not informing me and telling me that everything was okay even after I double-check it. So it was really real. And I, you know, I I'm someone who doesn't really ask for help. And I got a Speaker 1 00:29:42 Message from a friend of mine who was living in Halifax from a group of 15 people who decided to fundraise and be able to be like, here, we know you didn't ask, but we know that we weren't allowed to try to find some, and we're not going to tell you who gave you the money, so you won't give it to them back. We find that. And I, and I, you know, I bawled my eyes out kind of cancer. Um, it was an end cancer, but I, yeah, it was, it was something that I didn't expect when I really knew it was around Christmas time too. So it was, you know, it was an unexpected expense that an unexpected gift. And it also really hurt too, because I wasn't home to like, give these people behind them a love that, you know, so it was a bittersweet moment, but I feel like that's an example or a couple of examples to me. Speaker 1 00:30:24 Absolutely. It is. And that's so, so, so sweet. I definitely relate in terms of, you know, it'd be really difficult for me to ask for help and yeah, just, I, you know, I think definitely that speaks to like, anti-blackness like, you know, misogyny and like all these things where, you know, people put all these expectations on you and if you don't meet them, then you're fucked type thing. So I definitely really, uh, relate to that. And also like, you know, the myth of like black women in particular being like super human or, you know, so strong, et cetera, et cetera. And so I'd love for you to share an example of access intimacy that you experienced in your life. Speaker 2 00:30:57 Well, I was actually talking about this in class and we were discussing, you know, breaking away from conventional methods of learning. And as you do, when you're with a bunch of queer people, you get to talking about gym class in elementary school and how traumatic that was. And we got around to talking about the beep test or the FitnessGram pacer test as they call it for folks who aren't necessarily familiar with it. It's an exercise where you have to run between two points in between hearing two beeps. So it's like more or less you run back and forth at a time setting. You're graded based on it, you're judged based on it. And so I think this was at the 10th grade, one of my friends, who's also a fat person like myself, and we were both extremely anxious about the leap test and what we worked out was a system where we would tap out at the same time, essentially. So we came up with a code word, it was bottle cap, and we ran right beside each other and we made it to our little level 2.3, you said, bottle cap and sat our fat ass is down. Yeah. That was an example that I forgot about and thought of recently that honestly, I think really gave me the confidence in my not only my abilities and understanding where I'm coming from, but also the fact that, you know, I'm not the only one just in general, I am not alone in things. And that includes gym class. Speaker 1 00:32:27 That's a beautiful example. Yeah. Just like that solidarity and understanding that like, we're both gonna experience this stressful, you know, experience. And so, you know, we can make it less stressful if we work together, which I really do think is that's like such a core tenet of disability justice, you know, is that like you see your home and you're like, yo, bum that like, listen, Speaker 2 00:32:52 Why suffer? Yeah. You Speaker 1 00:32:53 Know, like, let's try and make this. Like maybe we can reduce the suffering by, you know, tapping out together or by saying, you know, like we are not going to, we don't want people to wear like perfume in this space. Yes. Or by having close captionings when we are on like a zoom call or whatever, just that togetherness that like coming, just coming together and, you know, trying to figure out solutions that work, not just for some of us, for those West, with power, but for all of us. And particularly those of us who experienced robust marginalization, Speaker 2 00:33:25 Stunning Speaker 1 00:33:26 Facts. So the question I have for you Puma is this when, since invalid bumped, our October, 2010 show to April, 2011, due to three big health issues that came up for an organizer, it was unprecedented. No one in performance worlds I know had seen done and something we did deliberately as a disability justice collective committed to leaving no one behind and center in our bodies as they are beloved artists like Prince and a Maracle Mohawk, trans elder writer and performance artists passed away from liver cancer and became ancestors in their forties, fifties, sixties, as such, I'm committed to figuring out how together we can remake performance cultures, expectations it, figure out our own disabled and chronically ill performance ideas that allow our body minds to thrive. So how do you think COVID has impacted access to create a spaces that are so often healing for black queer and trans people, and what changes must be made in the art industry to better center and highlight a variety of disabled artists communities? Speaker 2 00:34:26 Well, to answer your first question immediately when I read it, what I picked out was access, we're interrogating a lot of our ideas, I guess, on a large societal scale of access and what that means, what that looks like. So like things like working out closed captioning and online meeting spaces, the pieces of technology that you use to access online spaces, your internet connection, your environment, the materials you use, all of those things are having such a profound impact in so many different areas of our lives that I think maybe sometimes we could even think of that creative expression last, because there's so much else to contend with. But I guess in terms of participation, you know, in our own art and with each others, we don't have those same environments or spaces where we can be in close or immediate community with one another. Speaker 2 00:35:18 You know, so folks may not, you know, be quarantining or living around black people and relied on going out to those spaces to get their fill, I guess, of our joy and our culture, especially because there are people that are also working with toxic or straight up incompatible spaces, sufficient creation that only really happens over with each other. So I think that, I don't know, just that kind of distance in that not necessarily lack of community, because I think we're seeing community in a bunch of different and amazing ways because of COVID, if we may do the whole silver lining thing, but just community in the way that we have always known it. And in the way that we thrive in it is really kind of missing now. And I mean, to that note, in terms of what changes need to be made to center and highlight disabled artists communities in that same note, I think what's super important is knowing that some of the things that we're contending with in this pandemic, like access to protective equipment, having to quarantine or self isolate or needing to, you know, be distanced from others. Speaker 2 00:36:30 So as to mitigate germ transmission or things like that are conditions that disabled people have been living under for many years. Um, and you know, not to quote and imperious imperialist leader. Um, but Barack Obama once said, I guess there's no better time to be alive than the present in the sense that like the resources of materials that we have available now, as lacking as they may be and feel are ones that we haven't necessarily had in the past. And so if we think about that in terms of not only marginalization, but the way that our governments and other spaces that we frequent, including artistic spaces are, uh, excuse my language, showing their asses, um, in terms of who they prioritize and you know, what kind of bodies and experiences they prioritize. And so when we think about art, I think it's also important to understand how it is strictly linked. Speaker 2 00:37:30 Our social locations and identities are in the art. We create down to the medium, you know, for example, when you are visually impaired or blind, you know, maybe you're more inclined to use clay or other texts, textile or tactile materials to create your art as opposed to, you know, writing words on a page. And so really appreciating the unique conditions that create or contribute to the way that we create art is something that I think once we get a really good grip and appreciation of, we can then open up the way that we understand creative spaces and how they should, or should it be. And I think in the book care work as well, she was talking about Leah was talking about ACEs, a valid show that she attended, where it was huge for her to see, you know, really breaking away from that person in front of the room, talking about a bunch of people that aren't looking at each other, aren't talking to each other, have to be quiet, have to look a certain way and really what it meant for her to see that huge breaking apart of those Speaker 1 00:38:36 Roles and those norms. So I think when we think of grassroots spaces to create art, we can also really think of how to push those boundaries and break away in what feels like impossible ways from the dominant narrative that, you know, white able-bodied, et cetera, et cetera, people have kind of carved out for us. That makes so much sense. Yeah. We have to break from the norm. Like, you know what I mean? Like, it really doesn't serve us as like disabled people as artists, as like people just try to get through this pen panini, you know what I'm saying? Like it's a lot it's a lot to deal with. And I think it really does speak to the kind of like colonial framework that we're kind of like trapped in, whereas very much like, you know, one person has the knowledge and expertise and the rest of us just need to shut up and listen and like absorb this person. Speaker 1 00:39:27 It's like great power and knowledge, um, to kind of shifting to, you know, like very much like collective, not hierarchal, like understandings of knowledge and like, you know, maybe you're really good at, you know, like painting and I'm really good at writing. You ha you have a driver's license and you can cook. And like, you know, together, we can make something beautiful half in here, but I think it definitely requires like, you know, that kind of a creative kind of non-traditional kind of format. So maybe we're not used to experiencing, but I think necessary for our like longevity and wellness. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. That's a, that's a beautiful take. Cause you know, we really can't create an isolation, you know, like where am I getting all of my materials from? Or like, where can I, you know, for example, safely work with wood, if not in my little apartment, does I have friend have a space where I can do that kind of thing. So, you know, it's really like interrogating how much community is integral to art. And also I guess, figuring out ways that we can not get back to it, but really create something new out of the circumstances under which we are suffering today. Speaker 1 00:40:34 Yes. Awesome. Great. Well, I think that's, that's a wrap. Yeah. Thank you so much for your feedback and input for your time and expertise and sharing all your wisdom. It's really super appreciated. Thank you so much. I hope the folks listening are able to take away, you know, I know they'll take away amazing things from it. Yes. Thank you for having me glad to share my piece and I hope to see more of you more of everyone's creative spirits shining through more this year. Speaker 0 00:41:07 Thanks so much Keegan. So thank you so much for tuning in and check out some of the other episodes in this series. And I'll see you on the other side. Thank you so much, everybody have a good one to be continued. Uh, Stonecraft symposium podcast is produced by <inaudible> special. Thanks to today's speakers, Keegan <inaudible> Jade by our peak, Lydia Collins and pull my prem pay. The music is composed by Zen man on Pixabay. The podcast is part of Carleton university art galleries, virtual stone Croft symposium. The symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition to be continued troubling. The queer archives, curated by Ana SHA Hawk and Carr Tierney and presented at the gallery September, 2020 to May, 2021, the exhibition and podcast expand conversations around local queer histories and futures. We're grateful for the support of Carlton university, the Canada council for the arts, the Ontario arts council and the stone Croft foundation for the arts, the stolen car foundation promotes education, individual arts and fosters the public's appreciation of the visual arts. Find out more about the stone cop's symposium by visiting <inaudible> dot CA that scene.

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