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Guest Opinion: Who is that in the mirror? It's us and we look so beautiful with our disability

by Leroy F. Moore Jr.

Leroy F. Moore Jr. Photo: Courtesy Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Leroy F. Moore Jr. Photo: Courtesy Leroy F. Moore Jr.  

I had to create my mirror and now it is an international reflection as a Black disabled person through my activism that helped create organizations from DisabilityAdvocatesofMinorities.org with Gary N Gray in the 1990s to Sins Invalid with Patty Berne in early 2000s to the National Black Disability Coalition in 2000s with Jan Dunham to Krip-Hop Nation in mid-2000s with Keith Jones & Rob DA' Noize Temple. These organizations also forced Black History Month to open its doors to Black disabled history from many Black disabled/Deaf artists and activists.

From the streets to social networks, Black disabled people have changed the framework in art, music, activism, school curriculum etc., with Harriet Tubman Collective, Donna R. Walton's Divas with Disabilities, Black Disabled Creatives by Jillian Mercado, and many more. Through social media, Krip-Hop Nation has many chapters around the world and has traveled to the U.K., South Africa, and Toronto. Disabled people have used — and worked off of — social media, and now in the COVID era we have seen the whole world use the internet for work, ordering food, and to communicate. The question is, will everybody continue to learn from the disability community and give us our props? Even though we all are online, I'd like to see more of Black disabled artists/activists — including LGBTQs — in Black events, from hip-hop to new books.

At Krip-Hop Nation we have created our own lingo to redefine ourselves, like Afro-Krip, a term I thought of in 2016 to help unite Afro disabled people around the African diaspora and associate Krip-Hop during and after becoming politicized. As a Black disabled activist/artist living in America, having a need and vision of connecting with other disabled artists/activists in the African diaspora made me realize there must be terminology that speaks to our experiences.

Many have written that Africans brought to the Americas the greatly varied cultures of their homelands, including folklore, language, music, and food. In forging new lives with one another, as well as neighboring Europeans and Native Americans, rich varieties of African diaspora culture took root in a New World, decidedly shaped by the cultural innovations of Africans and their descendants. Through folklore, music, dance and more all had connection to disability but very few know about this connection. Folklore like the tale/song of "Follow the Drinkin' Gourd" with a main character, Peg Leg Joe, who gave direction to freedom for Africans through a song to an elderly disabled man, Jim Crow. The Bulk dance was where Africans who were shackled at the ankles, causing disabilities, were made to dance. Lastly, there is the story of "The Dozens" that many hip-hop artists and scholars researched. It was discovered that those who were disabled were separated and placed in groups of dozens on slave ships and created verbal competition stories in a rap version. So if you uplift this story, we can say disabled African Americans laid the roots of hip-hop.

The future is sweet for Black disabled people. On my plate in 2021 is to have a building for a Krip-Hop Institute that will hold a visual art gallery, a Black disabled library, Krip-Hop music studio, and an international room with large screens so Krip-Hop Nation can continue to hold international events under SoulTouchin Experience. Under SoulTouchin Experience's press, called Soulful Media Works Press, I will put out my anthology entitled: "For You BDYM: Black Disabled Young Men" at wwwdasoultoucha.com. The National Black Disability Coalition continues to work on Black disability studies and our upcoming National Black Disability campaign. For more information, go to http://www.blackdisability.org

This Black History Month and beyond we have many events like the below list.

Visibility: A Selection of Black Deaf & Disabled Performance Artists, an online eventFebruary 5 at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.

Black Disabled Lives Matter: Voices & History of Black Disability Justice Wednesday, February 10, at 1 p.m. on Zoom. For more information, click here.

Ableism in Hip-Hop: Krip-Hop Artists Drop Knowledge, February 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. Register here.

Last but not least, is the ADA Lead On-Black Futurism Month Events, March 25-27. For more information, contact Keith Jones at kpjones@dasoultoucha.com

The biggest thing that I did with Krip-Hop Nation in 2020 was that I was chosen to do the theme song for the Paralympics and will be performing in Tokyo August 24.

Who is that in the mirror? It's us and we look so beautiful with our disability!

Leroy F. Moore Jr., an ally, is a poet and activist who helped found Krip-Hop Nation.

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