10 Disabled Activists You Should Follow

Content/trigger warning: ecofascism discussion, ABA mention, mention of murder by police, abuse mention, Autism $peaks mention

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to this very late entry of This Is for You, Carrie: 10 Disabled activists you should be following. Honestly, there are way moallere than 10 Disabled activists that you should follow, but I only have so much time and fuel/spoons to write, so I stuck to 10. This is not a ranked list; it’s just in alphabetical order by surname if I know the person’s surname, first name if I know that but not the surname, and public profile name if I don’t know any part of their name. Onward!

1. Alice Wong

Alice Wong is a San Francisco-based activist, media creator, research consultant, and all-around badass who founded the Disability Visibility Project (https://disabilityvisibilityproject.com) and started the #SuckItAbleism hashtag during the infamous Summer of Straws. (For those who aren’t familiar with the Summer of Straws, that was summer of 2018, when some ecofascists who didn’t believe that Disabled people need tools they need to drink potables without choking decided to ignore the fact that plastic straws make up a negligible amount of pollution and push bans of plastic straws.) The Disability Visibility Project is an online community dedicated to sharing and celebrating Disabled culture.

Alice has also written a memoir that I will absolutely be reading. It’s called Year of the Tiger and it will be available 9/6/2022. It’s going to be about not just her work to dismantle ableism, but also her anti-racism work (she is Chinese-American) and how the two intersect. Her tweets are always incisive and witty, and I can only imagine how good her book is going to be.

You can follow Alice Wong on Twitter at @SFdirewolf. Her Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/DVP.

2. Autistic, Typing

I found out about the work of Autistic, Typing when ASAN allegedly plagiarized her work “Autism Moon” (which I recommend, by the way; it’s about how to healthily respond when a child is diagnosed as Autistic). I then followed her on social media. She’s an Indigenous (to Turtle Island) Autistic woman whose activism is infused with her cultural values. Her latest Facebook post, for instance, is about how ABA is, in her extremely accurate words, “colonizer fuckery.” She tends to have great points about things like how disability culture should be about supporting one another and how Disabled people shouldn’t have to disclose our disabilities in order to not be shot or killed by pigs. She is also consistently great about passing the mic to other Disabled activists, especially multiply marginalized ones.

You can follow Autistic, Typing on Twitter at @AutisticTyping, Facebook at Autistic, Typing, and Instagram at AutisticTyping.

3. Lydia X. Z. Brown

If you’re reading this blog, you know I think disability justice lawyer and Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council chairperson Lydia X. Z. Brown defines “Disabled badass.” (The one time I got to meet them, they had a pin that said that on their bag.) They’re an extremely talented writer who has an unparalleled ability to see into the heart of issues, especially when ableism is involved. Lydia is also queer, nonbinary, and a Chinese transracial adoptee, and they also apply their usual insight and excellent capability for teaching to discussions of queermisia, exorsexism, racism, and issues facing transracial adoptees. As if all of this wasn’t awesome enough, they are also one of the editors of All the Weight of Our Dreams, an anthology by Autistic BIPoC.

Lydia’s blog, Autistic Hoya (https://www.autistichoya.com), inspired me to start this blog. You can also find Lydia’s work at https://lydiaxzbrown.comand follow them on Twitter at @autistichoya and Facebook at Autistic Hoya. Their Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/autistichoya.

4. Mia Ives-Rublee

Mia Ives-Rublee works for the Center for American Progress as the Director of the Disability Justice Initiative, which by itself is impressive as hell. She is a Korean transracial adoptee and a wheelchair user with a service dog, and if I can get slightly personal for a second, I’ve learned a ton about all of those things from following her on Twitter. She posts a lot about ableism and disability in political news. Recently, she has also said some critical things about disability and COVID, especially how fucking ableist the response to COVID from…well, everybody has been. Oh, and according to her Twitter, she makes the best cookies in D.C.

You can follow Mia on Twitter at @SeeMiaRoll.

5. Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu

Morénike is a Black Autistic ADHDer and nonbinary woman who is currently a PhD candidate. They describe themselves as “Advocate, Public Speaker, Writer, Educator, Researcher, Mom.” I found out about their work when I recently discovered that they edited All the Weight of Our Dreams alongside Lydia X. Z. Brown. I haven’t been following their work for a very long time, so I can’t go into as much detail about them as I do other activists in this blog entry, but I do know that they have written some excellent truths about how egregious Autism $peaks is. They also boost important issues on Twitter even when they’re not using their own words, especially about autmisia and Autistic people worldwide. In addition to their anti-ableism work, they also are Co-Chair of the Women’s HIV Research Collaborative, and they have spoken publicly about seromisia (oppression of HIV+ people), misogynoir, and empowerment of abuse survivors.

Morénike’s website is https://morenikego.com. You can follow them on Twitter at @MorenikeGO.

6. Rikki Poynter

Rikki Poynter is one of the few TikTokkers I follow. My phone is a piece of shit and doesn’t have room for the TikTok app on it, so I don’t really use TikTok, but I follow her on Twitter. She is a prominent Deaf activist, writer, accessibility consultant, public speaker, and social media influencer. In addition to Deafness and disability in general, Rikki also speaks on the topics of bisexuality, body image issues, and child abuse. I haven’t seen any of her public speaking work, much to my chagrin, but her TikToks and tweets are pithy, memorable, educational, and to the point in addition to being funny.

Rikki’s website is http://www.rikkipoynter.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @RikkiPoynter, YouTube at Rikki Poynter, and TikTok at @rikkipoynter. Her Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/rikkipoynter.

7. Sora 空 (Angry, Asian, and Autistic)

Sora is a physically Disabled, Autistic, partially nonspeaking, Shin-Nisei, bisexual, nonbinary, ambulatory wheelchair user whose posts consistently highlight the intersections between ableism, racism (especially anti-Asian racism), and classism, among other types of oppression. They’re particularly insightful when it comes to calling out white Autistic people for speaking over Autistic BIPoC or otherwise being shitty. And, as a self-described angry multiply Disabled queer myself, I love how they’re unapologetically angry. They have every right to be. They don’t take shit, and they definitely don’t have time for tone policing. I respect the hell out of that. I also respect how good they are at passing the mic, especially to other BIPoC. I learn a lot from their page even when I’m not reading their posts because they share so much useful information.

Sora is on Facebook at Angry, Asian, and Autistic, Twitter at @angryaznautist, and Instagram at angryasianandautistic.

8. Tuttle

Tuttle is the Disabled, Autistic, partially nonspeaking writer of the extremely touching poem “I Am Not a Burden,” which is traditionally read at Disability Day of Mourning vigils. Their blog, Turtle Is a Verb, also contains many critical readings for anyone who wants to know about the specific kind of ableism faced by nonspeakers, including abuse by speech therapists. Their Twitter is also a useful font of information about being partially nonspeaking. Additionally, they also tweet frequently in the #NEISVoid hashtag (“NEIS” stands for “no end in sight;” the hashtag is about being incurably chronically ill), sharing their experiences with new triggers, shitty ableist doctors, and otherwise coping with chronic illness. Also, they are “definitely a mammal.”

Tuttle’s blog can be found at http://turtleisaverb.blogspot.com. Their Twitter is @tuttleturtle.

9. Unmasked

Unmasked is a blog and a self-described “raw and unfiltered life as a late-diagnosed autistic person.” The writer of Unmasked is Black and has written about the unique challenges Black Autistic people face. I remember their post for Black History Month being particularly critical reading for non-Black Autistic people. Other topics they have covered include empathy, growing up undiagnosed, and having co-occurring conditions like ADHD. The writer of Unmasked also frequently shares information from other multiply marginalized Autistic people on their page, including a recent post from a fellow Autistic person who is also “intellectually disabled and deals with chronic illness” about how proponents of the neurodiversity model frequently leave behind or speak over people with high support needs in their activism.

Unmasked is on Facebook and Instagram under that name.

10. Vilissa Thompson

I had to get the creator of #DisabilityTooWhite on here, of course. In 2013 (I think), she founded Ramp Your Voice, a disability rights consultation and advocacy organization that promotes self-advocacy and empowerment for Disabled people. In addition to being the CEO of Ramp Your Voice, Vilissa is a writer, a social worker, and a disability rights consultant. Being a Black Disabled woman, Vilissa often discusses the intersection between racism and ableism, and she also frequently focuses on Black Disabled “women and femmes” (her words). She is known for causing, again, in her words, “good trouble.” You have to admire that. Her Twitter is refreshing because not only does she frequently drop knowledge in her posts, she also talks about her daily life, which I feel like more Disabled activists need to do. Our daily lives are important too! Finally, she talks about being from South Carolina, and I feel like white Yankee activists like myself could really stand to read more accounts from Black Southerners instead of writing off heavily gerrymandered places in the South as “just a bunch of white racists.”

Vilissa Thompson’s website is https://www.vilissathompson.com. She can be found on Twitter at @VilissaThompson. Her Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/RampYourVoice.

And that’s the list! If you are reading this, I sincerely hope you consider following all of the aforementioned badasses. Thanks to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, which also gets you early access to blog entries and a thank-you at the end of every entry!

Online Activism Is Real Activism

Hey, everyone. This is going to be a short entry. I guess maybe I shouldn’t put options in polls unless I’m prepared to write about them, but this is what my Patreon supporters chose. I should do more polls so my Patreon supporters are getting something for their $5 pledge, so I should get used to writing things I’m not really prepared or inspired to write. This is an apropos entry for the times, though, since activism you can do while safe indoors from the fucking global plague currently happening…yeah, apropos, right?

Okay, enough stalling. Online activism. Often called being a “keyboard warrior” or a type of “slacktivism.” Also called being an “antivist” by the band Bring Me the Horizon, who have a song called such containing a lyric “If you really believe the things that you preach/Get off of your screens and into the streets.” Well, respectfully, BMtH, fuck you.

Okay, not just fuck you. Fuck you, and also understand that being a “keyboard warrior” is an important job, people who engage in online activism aren’t “slacktivists,” and we certainly aren’t “antivists” (which sounds like an unholy portmanteau of “activist” and “antis”–you know, the pro-censorship teeny-boppers with no sense of nuance who are too young to remember the LJ Strikethrough). “Get off your screens and into the streets” is a bullshit thing to say for several reasons, the first of which being that the streets aren’t accessible for everyone. Yeah, I protested Autism $peaks, but that was a fairly small protest of an organized walk, and even then I was barely able to handle it from a sensory perspective. If I went to a BLM protest, the crowd and people-noise would push me into a meltdown, and then I would be a liability instead of a help.

Granted, sometimes inaccessibility of “the streets” isn’t a barrier, depending on the situation–at the Capitol Crawl in 1990, the activists were protesting inaccessibility and the fact that they had to crawl was the point–but online activism is the only activism accessible to a lot of Disabled people. Someone who is just going to have a meltdown or is bedbound or is weak from chemo or is in too much pain to walk can’t get out there and march.

So in-person activism isn’t always accessible, which is why saying online activism isn’t real activism is ableist. Also, saying online activism doesn’t have an impact is just false. Most people think of online activism as people spewing half-formed thoughts on Twitter. However, Twitter lends itself pretty well to activism. Twitter threads often divide complex social justice concepts into easily digestible chunks, which is not only useful, it’s accessible for a lot of people, including ID/DD/LD people who may have trouble reading information in longer forms. I personally have learned a ton from Disability Twitter, particularly @Rose_TCA, @autistichoya, @VilissaThompson, @ebthen, @coffeespoonie, @mattbc, @dominickevans, and probably others that I’m forgetting. Fat Twitter seems to be pretty great too, except for the asswipe who told me that my eating disorder precluded me from being anti-fatmisia. (One of my protector alters came out and screamed about asswipery and social justice praxis. That was a fun day.) Jwitter is fantastic too, as is Black Twitter. I could do a whole blog entry on activists I suggest following on Twitter. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I feel like I should mention Facebook. You might think that Facebook is a terrible place for sharing information about social justice causes, and I wouldn’t disagree. But it does seem like an excellent place for getting into arguments about social justice issues with your shittier family members. Unfortunately, this is a thing that needs to happen in activist lives. We need to advocate for ourselves and causes that we’re passionate about (even if they don’t directly affect us, e.g., my white ass helping my QP debate a family member about Black Lives Matter). Facebook, for better or for worse, is where this often happens. It hurts. It’s ugly. But it has to be done.

There are other methods of online activism besides disseminating information on Twitter or Facebook. There’s also Tumblr, which I’m not going to touch with a 39.5-foot pole, even though it was instrumental in teaching me about disability justice, cultural appropriation, and trans rights, because there is just too much bullshit on there. There’s also YouTube. I mention this because video has been instrumental in reality checking people who don’t believe that, say, police murder innocent Black people. Posting links to YouTube or news sites with embedded video on social media has been an effective way to raise awareness of police violence and other issues like abuse in insular cults.

Oh, right, I was going to talk about other methods of online activism besides disseminating information, not just mention other social networks. I believe in giving money directly to marginalized people. This happens a lot on Twitter to the point that many different marginalized communities joke about members passing around the same $20. Sharing and signing fundraisers is also a way to perform activism online. I’m kinda broke right now thanks to vet bills (https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-b039elanna-beat-lung-cancer), but I’ve donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and a few bail funds. Signing petitions is another way to perform activism online (although you shouldn’t donate to change.org after signing a petition; just sign and donate to whatever cause directly). Yet another method of online activism is contacting policymakers via email or online forms; this is especially useful for people to whom phones aren’t accessible.

I’m also always surprised when people say that online activism isn’t real activism because SO MANY PEOPLE ARE ONLINE. Yeah, I could print this blog as a physical zine and distribute it around the city where I live, but I have a much higher chance of reaching people if I post it online. And there’s also a lot of bullshit online. I don’t think “Google is free!” is a very good response to social justice questions asked in good faith (unless the answer is very basic) because there is just so much fucking bullshit out there on the Internet. If there’s going to be multitudes of bigoted right-wing radioactive trash out on the Internet, I feel like there damn well better be correct information out there to combat it. When your conservative great-aunt posts some bullshit on FB, you can be there with a link to an infographic about how she’s wrong.

I think that’s all I have for now. Tl;dr not only is online activism valid and effective, but saying that online activism isn’t ~real activism is ableist. 

Thanks so much to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Karina, Mackenzie, Rose, and Sean! To become as cool as them, or to see my blog entries 2 days early and get a thank-you in every blog entry, you can support me for $1 a month on Patreon: patreon.com/arzinzani