Episode 43: The Power of Art: Talking Disability Justice and Movements for Liberation

October 27, 2021

How do organizers and advocates use art to promote and demystify the struggle for disability justice and its connections to other liberation movements? On the 43rd episode of the Activist Files, Senior Legal Worker Leah Todd speaks with Britney Wilson, a poet and writer who was featured in the Brave New Voices documentary series, attorney, and Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Civil Rights and Disability Justice Clinic at New York Law School, and Lucy Trieshmann, an educator and writer, third year law student at New York University School of Law, co-founder of the Breaking Point Project, and treasurer of the National Disabled Law Students Association, about using art, storytelling, advocacy, and litigation as tools to move towards a world beyond ableism, criminalization, and other forms of discrimination. Both members of the extended Center for Constitutional Rights family, Britney is a former Bertha Justice fellow, and Lucy is a former Ella Baker summer intern. The podcast coincides with the observation of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October.

Britney and Lucy discuss the ways that art can help to share important narratives and open up space for difficult conversations on controversial issues, how disability justice is situated within a larger liberation politic that includes racial, economic, LGBTQIA+ and gender justice and abolitionist frameworks, the necessity of moving beyond concepts of access and compliance towards understanding everyone's role in interdependence in order to get towards freedom, and lessons those working for justice must commit to learning in order to move beyond an ableist conception of "normalcy."

For further information:

Britney Wilson's article on Access-A-Ride: https://longreads.com/2017/09/01/on-nycs-paratransit-fighting-for-safety-respect-and-human-dignity/

Lucy Trieshmann speaks on accommodations in schools and the impact of the pandemic: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/disabled-students-school-covid

Lucy Trieshmann speaks on where she finds joy: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2021/07/21/wheelchair-users-talk-disturbing-questions-what-they-wish-you-knew/8017662002/

Podcast Transcript PDF