This Disability Pride Month, explore captivating literature that amplifies the voices of individuals with disabilities. With a mix of personal narratives and theoretical writing, this compelling array of books offers insights into the social construction of disability, the daily challenges that individuals face, and the ongoing efforts to build an inclusive society for over 61 million Americans with disabilities.
Disabilities of the Color Line by Dennis Tyler
Disabilities of the Color Line delves into the profound impact of disability and disablement on the Black social experience in America, presenting a compelling challenge to the prevailing narrative of mere triumph over adversity. Through a meticulous exploration of historical writings and actions by Black authors and activists, Dennis Tyler illuminates their courageous confrontations with the debilitating consequences of racism, while passionately advocating for both racial and disability justice. The book’s outstanding scholarship garnered recognition when it was selected as a finalist for the 2023 ASALH Book Prize, given by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
A Body, Undone by Christina Crosby
In her memoir A Body, Undone, Christina Crosby recounts a life-changing accident during a bicycle ride that left her paralyzed. The book delves into the challenges of living with a broken body and the struggle to convey the experience beyond language. Crosby draws on narrative, feminist and queer thinking, and poetic language to explore her journey from a tomboy in rural Pennsylvania to embracing radical feminism and gay liberation. According to The Washington Post, “Crosby knows that there are no satisfying conclusions when one lives ‘a life beyond reason’–and that bit of wisdom alone is cause to read this elegant and harrowing book.” The memoir addresses disability, gender, sexuality, and love, offering an unflinching account of grief, loss, and the complexities of human bodies.
Crip Authorship: Disability as Method, edited by Mara Mills and Rebecca Sanchez
Crip Authorship: Disability as Method is a comprehensive volume that explores how disability shapes authorship and transforms cultural production, aesthetics, and media. Through a collection of essays by leading scholars, artists, and activists, Mara Mills and Rebecca Sanchez showcase the diverse methods and perspectives of disability studies, highlighting practices of writing, research, genre/form, publishing, and media that challenge ableist norms and celebrate marginalized experiences.
Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design by Bess Williamson
Accessible design, initially advocated by disability activists, became a civil rights issue in the United States, leading to the enactment of federal accessibility laws such as the Architectural Barriers Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to Choice Reviews, Bess Williamson’s book Accessible America “is handsomely produced and will appeal to readers interested in design, disability studies, and social history.” By exploring the intertwined history of design and disability rights, the book reveals how American notions of individualism and rights profoundly influenced the built environment.
Such a Pretty Girl by Nadina LaSpina
Published by New Village Press
Studded with starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, Nadina LaSpina’s memoir Such a Pretty Girl shares her journey as a disabled person, from her early years in Sicily to her activism in the disability rights movement. Through her captivating narrative, LaSpina challenges societal narratives of pity and cure, exposing the deep-rooted disability prejudice within our sociopolitical system and advocating for disability pride and rights.
The Ugly Laws by Susan M. Schweik
Susan M. Schweik’s groundbreaking study delves into the historical context and significance of the “ugly laws” of municipal legislation that targeted “unsightly beggars” and had a profound impact on disabled individuals. Considering the extensive range of resources incorporated in The Ugly Laws, (“from legal proceedings to out-of-print books”), Publisher’s Weekly commends Schweik on “skillfully telling the story of individuals long lost to history.” By examining the intersection of race, nation, sex, class, and gender, she reveals the discriminatory nature of these laws and explores the resistance they sparked. She also analyzes their evolving cultural memory and various interpretations by scholars, activists, artists, and lawmakers.