Take a Sick Day! is an August 18, 2012 event organized by the Disabled Young People’s Project. Read on to learn more about DYPP’s objectives, motivations and inspirations.
What is DYPP all about?
We’re all about Youth + Art + Community
Video trailer courtesy of Disabled Young People’s Project; all rights reserved. Click video to watch.
Disabled Young People’s Project centers the experiences of young people of colour with disabilities through arts based initiatives and community events. The objective of DYPP is to connect young people with disabilities. We are a diverse group of racialized people who identity with or find disability concretely relevant to our everyday lives.
It’s hard to say where the project began, it’s as if it’s always been happening but it started out with the recognition that there is an urgent need for a space that addresses the impact of disability, the ways in which it is framed and understood in our society, in our homes and within our communities as well as and the impact that this framing has had on our lives as people concretely affected by disability. DYPP is a part of recognizing that our communities have always been talking about disability but that the way the growing disability discourse as we know it is largely shaped by whiteness and the west, and white supremacy in activist spaces, in academic institutions and in global policy and actions that seek to address and measure “disability” so that it is as if we are “new” to the scene.
The project stems out of an urgent need to address the fact that disability is contested and has always been – historically, within our city limits and transnationally – and that we must began to do something about it. It’s about recognizing the past, the work that has been done by those that have come before us in our communities and moving forward. We recognize that it is an old tool of colonization and domination: divide and conquer to keep our communities as well as communities of resistance siloed and separated from one another. To that end, we seek to take action in anyway we can to end discrimination and oppression against people with disabilities. For us, this project is very much about saying that race is not a separate issue from disability; neither is queerness, neither is gender, neither is labour and work, neither is education and poverty and access to education.
One important thing to mention is that we recognize that we are operating in a nonprofit industrial complex within a neoliberal socio-economic system and so we are trying to think of ways to do the work that we recognize ought to be done with the resources that we have available to us. We are a very new project. We do not know how long we will be here for but while we are here we hope to create safer spaces for our communities to gather in dialogue to and to discuss what it means to be told that we are ill, sick, or unwell and what it means to have different bodies from those around us who have claimed normal for themselves.
One of the things that we feel we can do right now is to create room for nonjudgmental dialogue and learning and education among members of our community. Many of us have faced extreme isolation in our everyday lives as we’ve tried to deal. It has been very painful, it has been very costly. We know that that this is not ok, and so Take a Sick Day! was born.
Why ‘Take a Sick Day’?
The event is called Take a Sick Day! as a way of calling attention to and honoring the ways in which many racialized, poor and working people with disabilities too often are forgotten or erased from conversations about disability, especially in western contexts. We wanted to draw attention to all the ramifications of the associations of health and disability.
We recognize that an insistence on the careful disassociation of disability from health by many disability scholars and activists is actually a very dominant theme in Euro-American white disability scholarship and activism. Overwhelming emphasis is put on separating disability from health and illness – mainly by social model advocates….We think that the initial insistence was due to saving disability from the domination and authority of medical expertise and discourse, but unfortunately it was done at the expense of many disabled people, by erasing/ignoring one of the main reasons of disablement, namely timely access to adequate health care on a global level.
We no longer find this useful and don’t understand the point of separating “health” from disability, in that they function along the same lines to oppress different bodies and impose very costly – to those labeled as such – ramifications, such as institutionalization and criminalization.
The name Take a Sick Day! is also about the false constructions of merit and labour, the idea that sick days are extravagant, a luxury and cost in a society that has a way of devaluing the constructions of the “disabled body”.
Take a Sick Day! is one event, and we recognize that much more is needed. For some of us, this is just the beginning. Some of us are going because we’ve felt removed from the disability community or didn’t feel like we were a part of one. Others, because it would be nice to be around other youth of colour with disabilities, to learn from each other as a refreshing change. There are lots of giveaways, swag bags and art. The food, the TTC Tokens… come because you want to!
What do you hope will grow out of this event?
Community and a space for youth of colour to discuss disability amongst ourselves. We are not sure what that will look like yet.
Who are the local artists who inspire you?
There are many local artists, groups, scholars, writers who have inspired us as a collective. Aside from the inspiration we draw from ourselves we have to shout out some special people to us.
Artreach Toronto for their unrelenting patience and support for this Project, for maintaining accessible and youth friendly funding structure and for cheering us on all the way! Annu Saini at Frequency Feminisms for her extraordinary art and facilitation skills and amazing show at Radio Regent;Esther Ignani and Critical Disability Studies at Ryerson;Rachel Gorman, Assistant Professor at Critical Disability Studies for quietly and confidently believing in DYPP and creating the most accessible classroom ever for many of us; Robertha Timothy for her outstanding scholarly contribution to race and disability studies; Andrew LaRose for his amazing music from his upcoming album ‘Playground’; Leroy Moore and Sins invalid,Pauline Hwang at paulinehwang.ca,Golshan Abdmoulaie, Tess Vo at the reachOUT Program, Griffin Centre,Isabel Mackenzie Lay, Darcel Bullen at METRAC (Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence against Women and Children), Jayson Gallop Photography,Cory Silverberg, Yaya Yao, Bessie Head; all the members of our advisory board and the numerous other folks who have been our friends and allies and made this day happen!
Check out the Disabled Young People’s Project’s ‘Take a Sick Day’ at the AGO on August 18, 2012.
For more info, please visit http://takesickday.wordpress.com