Ancestors don’t have to be blood ancestors or family ancestors. This idea is super important to me. When I’m passing by an institution, and I know people in there are disabled like me, those people are my ancestors. Well, they are still alive.
But everyone in the whole world, back through time, who was called a monster, abomination, worthless, better off dead–that was me. I was called stupid, not quite right, a little strange, something’s wrong with that kid, what’s her problem.
My mom whispered to me, “Act normal,” more than I would prefer. In some ways, protecting me from a diagnosis as a kid was brilliant of her. I could have found myself locked away also.
Passing by a jail is like passing by an institution. What’s the difference between me and prisoners? I’m white, so my chances are better.
I’m blessed with earplugs, noise canceling headphones, a kind spouse who helps me. I can think ahead and predict that there will be a lot of explosion sounds around the Fourth of July. So I’m ready, but if I was less ready–poor, unskilled, lost track of the date, or didn’t have Ming’s support–I could easily be arrested.
What keeps me from going outside to scream at the neighbors? And then someone calls the cops, a physical violence happens, and I get blamed for it. There you go–I’m crazy and lose my freedom. Who’s going to believe me?
If I’m panicking, I know to stay inside. Agoraphobia makes sense, sometimes. It’s a dangerous world. All it would take was one bad day where I’m extra crazy and scream about it, and Laura-Marie’s in jail.
All of those disabled people and jailed people back through time are my ancestors. Partly I learned this from Stacey Milbern in her essay On the Ancestral Plane: Crip Hand Me Downs and the Legacy of our Movements. You can hear me read it on soundcloud here.
In another way, I’ve been thinking about it since I got interested in Druid paganism. Whiteness, ancestor worship, is it racist, and what about my peeps who were not of the UK? Thor’s hammer people. There are racist Heathens vs not racist ones. My dad’s side is white, but you know my mom’s side is not.
All the Druids at the IHOP meeting were white, and Ming was like, can I fit in here? I was thinking of Mayans, Aztecs, and short Native people outside of cities while wondering the same.
We can define our ancestors, somewhat. All the people are related, if we go back far enough. I don’t care what my dna test would say. My own experience matters, and my ancestors love me, whether I know about them or not. I praise them and thank them, no matter who the individuals were, what country it was, their skin tone, their languages and customs.
I thank them every day, no need to know literally about who they were. Probably they did the human things. Suffer, cry, eat, drink water, get illnesses, sleep, have dreams, have sex, dance, say hello to the sky.
In some ways we’re very different, but in some ways, people are people. They didn’t have to dodge tvs and feel embarrassed that they didn’t drive or watch movies. There were no tvs, cars, or movies.
Sounds good. Oh, but there were also no blogs or zines. I would have filled up the walls of my cave and needed to get a new cave. Or I would have invented paper.