Monday, January 23, 2017

DVP Interview: Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, & Alice Wong

Profile photos of three people, two white men and one Asian woman, with a bright yellow background

Alice, Gregg, and Andrew recorded a conversation between them about how and why #CripTheVote got started. The full discussion is now up at StoryCorps, and you can hear highlights with transcripts at the Disability Visibility Project website.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

#CripTheVote Disability Identity & Activism Survey

Illustration of a red pencil marking a survey ballot with words "Take the Survey"
2017 is here. Hurrah?!? Andrew Pulrang, Gregg Beratan, and Alice Wong, the co-partners of #CripTheVote have a lot planned for this year.

First, we have an online survey to gather stories on disability identity and activism. Everyone's journey is different and we hope to show a wide range of lived experiences. There is no singular way to be disabled or do activism. There is no set dogma on what political positions one should take as a disabled person. We hope to learn more about how people come to disability activism, in order to help more disabled people do the same.

Later this spring, #CripTheVote will be creating a Disability Activism 101 Toolkit that will include selected stories from this survey to give an introduction to people who are curious about political participation and activism but don't know where to begin.

The survey can be anonymous, or you can leave your name ... it's up to you. Help us flesh out the connections between disability identity and activism. 

Mark Your Calendars: Upcoming #CripTheVote Events

Closeup photo of a monthly calendar page with colored push-pins on assorted dates

Upcoming chats with #CripTheVote as co-hosts

January 17, 7 pm Eastern

January 19, 3 pm Eastern

Winter / Spring #CripTheVote Chats

February 5, 7 pm Eastern

March 5, 7 pm Eastern

April 2, 7 pm Eastern

April 29, 7 pm Eastern

Friday, January 6, 2017

Notes On "Crip"

(Originally posted March 29, 2016)

While #CripTheVote has gotten a lot of disabled people excited about participating in this year’s elections, a few folks have questioned our decision to make “crip” a key component of the hashtag. Since the complaints and concerns have been mostly expressed carefully, thoughtfully, and with respect, we feel it makes sense to explain ourselves a bit further, for those who might be interested.

Here is our thinking:

- Selective use of “crip” or “crippled” by people with disabilities is a conscious act of empowerment through “reclaiming” a former slur as a badge of pride. “Selected use” means we don’t use it all the time, in every situation. We exercise judgment in when and where it’s appropriate to use.

- “Crip” and “cripple” are also used ironically, to convey a bit of edginess, humor, and confidence, from a community that people tend to assume will be sad, bitter, and boring.

- Disabled people who identify with “crip” or “cripple,” generally share a strong sense of disability pride and deep involvement in disability activism and culture. We know what the social model of disability is, we are familiar with “person first” language, and we take pride in our disability identities. Calling ourselves “cripples” isn’t a sign of self-hatred or ignorance of disability history … quite the contrary.  

- “Crip” and “cripple” have been used this way by at least some disability activists for decades. It’s not a particularly new practice. It has, however, grown to be more inclusive, as the disability rights movement itself has gradually become more inclusive, both of people with all kinds of disabilities, and of people who have other important identities.

- “Cripple” as an actual label or insult is not just “politically incorrect,” it is archaic. It is a term from a bygone era, largely out of use even by ableists. That is not true of all negative disability terms. For instance, “handicapped” and “retarded” are both used much more often, and are therefore more risky to play around with than “cripple.” That’s why you won’t find many disability activists and proud disabled people using “handicapped” or “retarded” either as reclaimed terms or ironically.

- We chose to use #CripTheVote because it sounded more interesting, hard-edged, and likely to spark interest than safer, more “accurate” terms. It’s the difference between saying, “Rock The Vote!” and saying “Young People Really Should Register And Vote.”

- All that said, using “Crip” or “Cripple” this way isn’t to everyone’s taste. That’s fine. Some people have painful personal histories with the word. Some people despise irony and don’t like messing around with language. Some people feel it’s just too risky.

-We are not speaking for everyone, especially the disability community. We believe there is room for multiple hashtags and conversations--there’s something for everyone.

- However, context does matter, and if you read through the tweets that have come out of the #CripTheVote hashtag, you will see that is has inspired the very opposite of ignorance, stigma, or medical model paternalism.

- For a deeper look into the issue, read Crip Theory, from Wright State University.

Looking Ahead: The Future Of #CripTheVote

(Originally posted November 17, 2016)

The 2016 Presidential election is officially over. This was an unprecedented election for many reasons. When #CripTheVote started this past February, our primary goal was “to engage both voters and politicians in a productive discussion about disability issues in the United States, with the hope that Disability takes on greater prominence within the American political landscape.”

As the co-partners of #CripTheVote, we’re here to tell you about our expanded vision thanks to the participation of the disability community.

#CripTheVote is a nonpartisan online movement activating and engaging disabled people on policies and practices important to the disability community. Our movement is grounded in online conversations encouraging individual and collective action in the face of inequality, ableism, and oppression in all forms. Our movement is intersectional, local, global, and focused on the political participation of disabled people.

Specifically, #CripTheVote will …

* Continue to be an intersectional movement by and for the entire disability community.

* Keep our hashtag as it is.

* Remain online, community-based, and as decentralized as possible.

* Expand our focus beyond voting to other forms of political participation.

* Ask questions and demand accountability from our elected and public officials.

* Engage with disability issues at the local, state, national, and international levels.

* Provide a space for conversation as stimulus for collective action.

* Support direct actions and organizers by sharing and amplifying information about them.

* Partner with disabled people and organizations in broadening our movement’s perspectives and expertise.

* Refrain from endorsing or supporting candidates, public officials, or political parties.

* Oppose and critique any policy or practice that potentially harms disabled people.

* Explore and promote promising ideas for better disability policies and practices.

* We do not intend to become a nonprofit organization, raise money, or otherwise “professionalize” #CripTheVote.

We are so grateful to the disability community for making #CripTheVote the force that it has become. It will take our continued effort as a community to keep things going. Without all of you taking ownership of the hashtag we could not have the impact we have had, and make no mistake we have had an impact. The level of the discussion around disability issues has been raised in all spheres. Politicians, the media and the public know that our community can no longer be placated by a mere mention and that we demand engagement. This is something we can build on as we move into an uncertain future. Thank you all.

In solidarity,

Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, and Alice Wong
Co-Partners, #CripTheVote

Stay In Touch!

“Like” the #CripTheVote Facebook Page for updates and events.

Follow the co-partners on Twitter:


"A Movement begins when large numbers of people, having reached the point where they feel they can’t take the way things are any more, see some hope of improving their daily lives and begin to move on their own to bring about change.

"A Movement begins to assume momentum when people begin exploring visionary answers to the questions being asked at the grassroots and engage in practical activities which can be replicated without huge bureaucracies. In the early stages of a Movement, the visionary answers being explored usually strike most people as too radical or too impractical. If they don’t, they are probably not profound enough to build a Movement."

–Grace Lee Boggs

[Excerpt from Grace Lee Boggs, “Towards A New Vision and a New Movement,” presented at the University of Michigan Law School Symposium, October 13-14, 1995.]