And self-care is really tricky for me, because I don’t believe in the self in the way that people determine it here in this capitalist society that we live in. I don’t believe in self-care, I believe in collective care, collectivizing our care, and thinking more about how we can help each other. How can we collectivize the care of children so that more people can feel like they can actually have their kids but also live in the world and contribute and participate in various different kinds of ways? How do we do that? How do we collectivize care so that when we’re sick and we’re not feeling ourselves, we’ve got a crew of people that are not just our prayer warriors, but our action warriors who are thinking through with us? Like, I’m not just going to be able to cook this week, and you have a whole bunch of folks there, who are just putting a list together for you and bringing the food every day that week and you’re doing the same for your community, too.

I want that as the focus of how I do things and that really comes from the fact that I grew up the daughter of returned migrants, African-returned migrants. I don’t see the world the way that people do here, I just don’t. I don’t agree with it, I think capitalism is actually continuously alienating us from each other, but also even from ourselves and I just don’t subscribe. And for me, it’s too much with, “Yeah I’m going to go do yoga and then, I’m going to go and do some sit-ups and maybe I’ll like, you know, go to…” You don’t have to go anywhere to care for yourself.

You can just care for yourself and your community in tandem and that can actually be much more healthy for you, by the way. Because all this internalized, internal reflection is not good for people. You have to be able to have… Yes, think about yourself, reflect on your practice, okay, but then you need to test it in the world, you’ve got to be with people. So, that’s important. And I hate people! So, I say that as somebody who actually is really anti-social… I don’t want to socialize in that kind of way but I do want to be social with other folks as it relates to collectivizing care.

Mariame Kaba

Mariame Kaba on Collective Care

"When I say the word 'love,' I mean something more cripped-out and weird than the traditional desirability politics many of us are forced to try to survive and live within.

I mean that when we reach for each other and make the most access possible, it is a radical act of love. When access is centralized at the beginning dream of every action or event, that is radical love. I mean that access is far more to me than a checklist of accessibility needs-though checklists are needed and necessary. I mean that without deep love and care for each other, for our crip bodyminds, an event can have all the fragrance-free soap and interpreters and thirty-six-inch-wide doorways in the world. And it can still be empty...

I mean that the sick and disabled spaces I have been in, been changed by, helped make, stumbled within at their best have been spaces full of deep love. And that deep love has been some of the most intense healing I've felt. It is a love that the medical-industrial complex and ableist society don't understand. It's why doctors scratch their heads and remark that I seem to be doing so well, and then stare blankly when I say that I have a lot of loving disabled community and it's what helps me. It took ten years to begin to not hate my bodymind. It took ten more to even begin to be able to ask for what I needed, matter-of-factly, without shame.

Love in action is when we strategize to create cross-disability access spaces. When we refuse to abandon each other. When we, as disabled people, fight for the access needs of sibling crips. I've seen able-bodied organizers be confused by this. Why am I fighting so hard for fragrance-free space or a ramp, if it's not something I personally need?

...When disabled people get free, everyone gets free. More access makes everything more accessible for everybody.

And once you've tasted that freedom space, it makes inaccessible spaces just seem very lacking that kind of life-saving, life-affirming love. Real skinny. Real unsatisfying. And real full of, well, hate.

Why would you want to be a part of that?

...Love gets laughed at. What a weak, nonpolitical, femme thing. Love isn't a muscle or an action verb or a survival strategy. Bullshit, I say. Making space accessible as a form of love is a disabled femme of color weapon."

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha Care W…