Monday, June 1, 2020

"Resistance and Hope: Essays by Disabled People" - Edited by Alice Wong

Having recently had the opportunity to preview Alice Wong's upcoming "Disability Visibility," I enthusiastically claimed the opportunity to go back a couple years and check out a similar 2018 effort by Wong that also pushed disabled voices to the forefront. "Resistance and Hope: Essays by Disabled People" is really an expansion of Wong's acclaimed Disability Visibility Project, an anthology of essays written by some of the country's most celebrated and recognized activists, leaders, and social justice pioneers for disability justice.

In most ways, "Resistance and Hope" feels like an introduction to "Disability Visibility," though at least part of that is that it's obvious Wong has learned much since compiling this anthology and has applied that knowledge to her upcoming release. While "Resistance and Hope" is, indeed, just as filled with resistance and hope, it's a shorter effort with 17 essays and its inconsistent tone sometimes mutes its overall impact intellectually and emotionally.

The authors here explore resistance, hope, self-care, disability justice, and the current state of political affairs in America under an administration that has reversed or just plain eliminated many disability rights measures.

The book challenges, though perhaps a tad less than it intends and this is a key lesson Wong seems to have learned and applied in her upcoming "Disability Visibility." These essays are shorter and for the most part rather fundamental, while the post-essays bios are frequently far too lengthy. Additionally, Wong utilizes content advisories a bit excessively - this is also an area that is vastly improved in her upcoming project.

All 17 of the essays will be appreciated, though is as nearly always true with anthologies certain ones are likely to resonate more than others. Favorites of mine included Cyree Jarelle Johnson's "Barron Trump's (Alleged) Autistic Childhood," Mari Kurisato's "They Had Names," and Stacey Milbern's "Reflections as Congress Debates Our Futures," and Naomi Ortiz's "Self-Care When Things Shatter." Lydia X.Z. Brown always impresses and the same is true for "Rebel - Don't Be Palatable: Resisting Co-optation and Fighting for the World We Want," while Mia Mingus, Maysoon Zayid, and Talila A. Lewis all shine.

Truthfully, though, there's not a weak effort here other than noting that some could have benefited from lengthier presentation.

Alice Wong has established herself not only as a premiere activist in America for disability justice, but also as one who enthusiastically shines the light on others. It's refreshing in a world often filled with "me first" to see someone so enthusiastically devoted to sharing the spotlight and empowering others.

Published directly by the Disability Visibility Project, "Resistance and Hope" is available in a Kindle edition as the e-book format was chosen primarily for its flexibility and accessibility.

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