Angry Reader of the Week: Alice Wong

What is up, my people? It's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Alice Wong.

Who are you?

Alice Wong, @SFdirewolf, First of Her Name, Black of Hair, Sister of Emily and Grace, Warden of the West Coast.

What are you?

Star Trek/Game of Thrones Nerd, Picky-Picky Eater, Cat Trapped in a Human's Body, Food Pornographer. A wheelchair-using, hell-raising disabled Asian-American woman.

Where are you?

Intersection of gentrification, hipsterdom, progressive politics and class warfare (a.k.a. the Mission District, San Francisco).

Where are you from?

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana (Holla, Midwestern Asian Americans!!).

What do you do?

By day, I'm a Staff Research Associate at the Community Living Policy Center at the UCSF. I'm also a Presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies and programs that affect people with disabilities.

On my off hours, I scour the Internets and curate tasty nuggets of news on Asian-American issues as a volunteer member of 18 Million Rising's Content Crew. I also putter around, in the physical and online world, advocating for Medicaid programs, deinstitutionalization and disability rights.

What are you all about?

Appreciating nuance and acknowledging complexity…brainstorming great ideas and getting shit done…sharing my story with others…looking at the world through a sociological lens.

As a person who doesn't travel anymore and can't make it to a ton of events, social media has been an amazing means to connect with some very smart and cool folks. For example, while many may think twitter is a superficial platform, I recently engaged in two amazing chats this fall: #solidarityisfortheablebodied & #NotYourAsianSidekick. For a short while, ngọc loan trần, Suey Park and I tweeted a discussion on the politics of disabled Asian American women.

What makes you angry?

Too many things, but you asked for it!

- In Asian-American circles, being the only person talking about disability issues OR in disability circles, being one of the few disabled Asian-Americans talking race/diversity. 'Intersectionality' is a word that's overused, but talking about it and making it visible matters! And it shouldn't be on the people who live it to have to bring up these themes all the damn time.

- The silence on the part of Asian American communities, organizations and institutions about the shame, stigma and discrimination of disabled people. For instance, there are horrible stats on mental illness and Asian-Americans. I suspect one element in the disparities of Asian Americans accessing mental healthcare is the internalized pressure to conform to a non-Asian, non-disabled ideal.

- People who find inspiration from disabled people for doing the same things as non-disabled people. I cannot tell you the number of times people are shocked that I work for a living or that I direct my own care. I'm often infantilized because I can't get out of bed without assistance or do stuff like bathe, dress and eat by myself. Independence is not about doing something by yourself, it's about having autonomy. Independence is a state of mind.

- The devaluation of the lives of people with disabilities, the idea that their quality of life is less than their non-disabled counterparts, that they are a burden on society. The notion that having a disability is means a person is ‘broken,' ‘deficient,' ‘deviant,' or needs a cure. In my ideal world, embracing diversity means re-conceptualizing disability as part of the broad spectrum of human experience.

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