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In this episode the members of Black Disabled Men Talk discuss the challenges navigating romantic relationships and sexuality as Black disabled men. If you like this episode don’t forget to support our patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/blackdisabledmentalk. Thank you.
Opening theme song: “Story Neva Been Told” By Keith Jones and Leroy Moore.
Black Disabled Men Talk: Relationships
With: Leroy Moore (LM); Keith Jones (KJ); Lateef McLeod (LMC);
LM: Okay! This is Leroy Moore on Black Disabled Men Talk. We’re back again, and this time we’re talking about relationships and being a black disabled man. We’re going to go round like we always do, introduce ourselves, then we can jump into the topic. We have like 20 minutes to do this, so let’s do it! So introductions, please, myself and my team.
KJ: Hey what’s up my name is Keith Jones. I am the president and CEO of Soul Touching Experiences, an organization built on building inclusive and effective policy. Also the co-founder of Krip-Hop nation with my twin from another mother, Leroy Moore.
LM: Hey! Alright this is Leroy Moore from Krip-Hop Nation, Poor Magazine, also an author, writer, activist in the Bay Area. Yeah, that’s me, I’m glad to be here. Lateef, take it away!
LMC: Hello, I am Lateef McLeod and I am poet, writer and scholar. I am a PhD student in the Anthropology and Social Change department at California Institute of Integrative Studies, also the lead committee chair of the International Society of Augmented and Alternative Communication. I’m also working on a poetry book that will come out next year. Also.
LM: Alright are you done Lateef?
LMC: Also people should donate to our Patreon [repeats]
[child in background chattering]
KJ: Our Patreon page, yes! I can never say it right. It’ll be, we’ll put the link up with the link.
LM: So we have the Patreon page, Black Disabled Men Talk, and we’re on acmes so thanks. So let’s get into the topic, the topic is relationships and black disabled men. It could be friends, it could be romantic relationships, but yeah we’re going to talk about that topic. So. Who wants to jump in first with that?
KJ: Latif why don’t you go first man?
[child chattering, noise]
LMC: Well for my position I think romantic relationships for people with disabilities [chime], especially black people with disabilities, in this society is full of challenges, [loud hum in background], heartache, and disappointment. The reason I say that is because I don’t think our communities get our sexuality or our romantic wishes, and think that part of ourselves is trivial to our wellbeing.
LM: Yeah I do agree with you, Lateef. Keith ado you want to go?
KJ: You can go
LM: For me I totally agree. I really don’t think that society sees our sexuality as black disabled men. You know, although today we had a little bit better with our work with Sins Invalid you know, and disabled activists doing the work around it. But I really think that this… can be deeply in the courts. I think it’s going to be… [10.16, inaudible] change. Change in our community about how we think about disability, especially in the black community. The black community is so far behind, you know. We talk about social justice but they’re so far behind, sexuality it just erases it, it’s like going back to the dark ages almost. Recently – not even recently, I think a year and a half now – I’ve been really pumping to be a national black disabled campaign that’s fully funded and fully supported. So we can do that education! It’s not going to come from the courts, it’s not going to come from the disabled caucus, it’s only going to come from our communities. And you know to do that we need support doing, you know funding and other pieces to it. Of course what we’re doing now with our own work – Latif with you writing, Keith Jones with policy and running for president, and mine – we are doing it in our own silos. But you know, a national complete new way of thinking I think it needs to be. A national campaign. That we should get backing for from these national organizations that don’t do crap! They should back up and get out the way! In today’s society, if you do get backing and support you have to swallow their ways of doing it which totally goes against doing it in the first place. So it’s a catch 22! So yeah, once again I think our communities, the black community, is so far behind when it comes to relationships, seeing us as sexual beings. Especially black disabled men, because that’s all you see is black disabled men getting shot by the police, or black disabled men you know. We only see the “negative” and of course negative goes on, but we need to see the good side of black disabled men running for president and doing our business. So that’s my little two cents. Keith?
KJ: Yeah I think it really boils down to, as much as we try and talk about it, it boils down to having a sense that we are serving the role that we serve as humans. Any time you start to question someone’s validity – their sexuality, or whether they even are a sexual being – is to question their humanity. Which is crazy because in order to do that you have to look at me and say you know what Keith, Leroy, Lateef, you’re people with disabilities and we know you’re human KIND OF. To do that, you have to really convince yourself that’s okay. That’s systemic, cultural, societal. But in terms of a 1:1 intimate relationship, it has to be attacked at all fronts at all times. Would you have your first girlfriend if you weren’t a person with a disability and doing such and such to so-and-so? Where do you meet your significant other? Those are the places and you know we’re not there – not because we decided you know what we’re not going, but cus there’s a collective effort cloaked as benign ignorance to keep us out. It’s a little disingenuous to think it’s okay. We make people uncomfortable! And people are uncomfortable because they don’t… we’re not in the main, in everyday life outside of the people we’re involved with, so!
LM: Yeah, true. So we have about five minutes left. Time goes so quick. So Lateef, you want to jump in again?
LMC: Yes we need a cultural movement just like the LGBTQIA movement did. And we definitely need to address legacy of eugenics had on our culture because it is part of their reason why our sexuality is so taboo.
LM: Yes I agree Lateef! Thank you. Want to take it away for the last couple of minutes Keith?
KJ: I said that the last time too, but anyway. It’s not really a matter of getting people to be like “oh we gotta talk about it too” because sex has been so… villanised… across all cultures! And particularly in our culture, it is what it is up until it isn’t! And then we’re like hey you’re supposed to have this toxic masculinity, be this machismo man, AND do all this good stuff etc. How do you do that if the first thing they look at you they’re like nah we don’t see you as a man period? Then you turn around and say how your oppressed. You just start to wonder. It’s not us. If people are comfortable with living with a dichotomy that’s just idiotic, it’s really going to be a bout us just forcing the dialogue and making sure, instead of waiting on people to say it to us, we’ll say you know what screw it we’ll do the work cus you all suck and we’ve got to get it done.
LM: I agree with that! Because of Lateef, we have a page on our page Black Disabled Men Talk you can go there and click and listen to our broadcast. There’s some videos. But I think I’m happy doing just audio for now. But we’ll do videos down the road, you know, on certain topics. But anyway this is Black Disabled Men Talk, Leroy Moore, Keith Jones, Lateef McLeod. Any last words for one minute?
KJ: We out!
LMC: I think we have ten more minutes.
LM: Oh okay, it’s 3.30, so we can keep on talking! So Lateef you want to give some points if we do have more time?
LMC: Yes. I think we see that people should realize that our society is very hierarchical and because of that, the people at the bottom of hierarchies have less freedom (which includes sexual freedom). I think people internalize this without thinking about it.
[child chattering and singing in background]
LM: Yeah, they totally do, I totally agree Lateef. And I say that you know our movements and our studies and everything else keeps on passing us by. We have disability studies, we have black studies, now we have black men studies, and most of them don’t talk about the black disabled experience. So once again, all of these studies, movements, whatever keep on passing us by once again. So that’s why I think there needs to be a national black disabled campaign controlled by us, for us, you know? To correct these wrongs that are happening – not only in our communities, but in our schools, you know?
KJ: Yeah, that’s. And the thing is, you know, we add disability to any black discussion all the other black people will start to shut up! That’s not an ableism thing, that’s just a human thing, and I think it’s… they’re victims of the same thing everyone else is a victim of,. If everything is so “anti-your-humanity” and I mean EVERYTHING – by the time you start dealing with it, wanting to get round to tell you mama you did actually give birth to a man, as it radiates out society is not going to openly embrace you until you ram them, until you jump down their throat! I’l say it again – what’s really going to be critical is we take the onus upon ourselves. There is no saviors. We are our own saviors. We are our own best experts, best research, we are us. Waiting on someone else to do it we’ll be waiting till we’re dead!
LM: True! We’ve got 9 minute sand 22 seconds, so I wanted to say I think also to jump off Keith we’re in a different time period, you know. Back in the 80s and 90s, common was the thing you have with Jamaican people. And now we don’t have those big conferences no more – people are connecting through facebook and social networking. So we had to re-define what is a movement? What do we want, as black disabled men, to flag this movement? Is it a facebook event? Is it, you know, supporting Keith Jones when you run for president?
LM: Is it buying Lateef’s books? You know. I think it’s a different time, a different way to do a movement. A conference is a little start of a movement and I’m like no, I don’t think so.
KJ: Yeah – it’s… it’s not really complicated. If somebody say oh you know I didn’t think of y/all like that, well why not, I just never thought about it. So there’s two kinds – I can’t hold you accountable. You don’t know what you don’t know. So I cannot necessarily… nobody’s ever told you you don’t know! But secondly, if you never thought to ask the question, I can and cannot fault you for that. BUT once the issue is brought to your attention, all bets is off! Okay well you didn’t know that, I’m glad, now you know, it’s an issue! So on and so forth. If you continue to operate in the same fashion AFTER it was brought to your attention then I have to presume it’s deliberate. I have to! And at that point don’t talk to me about my cause is valid and my issue is such-and-such, because you’re full of it! That means you’re being selective with who should get justice and who shouldn’t. Who should be afforded humanity and who shouldn’t. You know?
LM: Totally! We had this thing going around the internet that says “disability solidarity” but I don’t see no solidarity on issues. For example, I’m waiting to respond to a grassroots movement, I sent them an email talking about Krip Hop and what we do, so that’s a test. Waiting for a response for that. So yeah, once again we can’t wait for anyone else to do it. BUT we also need to be heard, too, at the same time. You know? If you want to bring this issue to a national platform, then we need to be heard. So. So we have five minutes – Lateef you want to kick off the five minutes?
LMC: Yes, people need to see positive sexuality of disabled people in the media, and everywhere that it’s appropriate. Because people don’t understand that it is a problem, and I think people are under the misconception that we can get romantic partners just as easy as they can, and they don’t want to see the real situation.
LM: I agree I agree! So we got less than a minute, Keith, ring us out!
KJ: Well, I mean, there’s nothing to bring out on other than the fact that if you again claim to be part of the most intelligent species in the universe then you should ask as such! If you think you’re one of the most compassionate species in the universe, you should act as such! If you are going to NOT do it, then shut up! And don’t be a road block.
LM: Alright! So we’ll end on that – don’t be a roadblock! Alright, peace out people.