We are ALL Disabled Now – Vaccination

Public Health in New York City worked!  As a 1B (never thought I’d like being classified so much as a teacher), I’m eligible.

Not only am I flying from my remote workplace; I’m out here because I needed accommodations and it seemed easier to gain better times than to file another Reasonable Accommodation request. 

Don’t get me wrong: HR at the GC has been wonderful. Marvelous.  I left the building with an amazing accommodation that they put in the hands of the new EO.  But rather than requesting another accommodation, why not do it myself? 

Anyway, now that I’m returning — getting the first shot and then another procedure for a disease that women are prone to get — I’m not even anxious about flying.  

How the world has changed with accommodations. Sure, it’s costly in terms of time to order that wheelchair to get me through the airport.  But Fred’s got this down.  And besides, then he doesn’t have to worry.  I love to talk to those in charge of pushing so that they know how much this has changed in the past 15 or so years since Congress and the President forced the airlines to accommodate their passengers.  The last time I went to Paris (2009) with a cast on, I’m embarrassed to say I created another one of my sitdown big-bottom protests — and at JFK it was to no avail.

The airlines finally got it.  What was the time lag?  Legislation even after being enacted needs federal rules.  So I’d give it a 20 year lag, if you’re lucky.  Now that the airlines finally got it, I can travel again.

Essential? Whose Body is It Anyway?

Essential is such a funny word.  Having watched doctors fill in forms for my reasonable accommodations since the 1990s you start to get a feel for medicine and why some physicians are M.D.s and some are O.D. or D.Os as well as who is entrepreneurial in the field of medicine starting, for instance, physical medicine (dominated now by Physical Therapy or PT) and even more importantly what doctors contribute to the ever increasing and expansive field of “public health.” Were I home, look at my  neighbor Cornell Tech and its initiatives.

Not surprisingly public health is one of those fields that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg favors. Doing good by algorithm or at least taking the drama (read female) out of who lives or dies. To me, public health is really about what or whose bodies matter. The politics behind it, forget economics, gets translated into law.

I mean with behavioral economics out there like Freakeconomics, we don’t need to think there’s any one rational person that creates a standard for all. Thanks to AI we can quantify irrationality as well as rationality. This is actually quite serious or essential when you think about it. The American rule of law is based on that so-called rational person or human being, yet AI has replaced it with some courts going so far as mandating their judges use algorithms to determine sentencing.

Now that we’ve got “essential” workers (truck delivery, restaurants, meat processing plants, K-12 teachers), as opposed to those on the frontline in public health, what is to become of them?  

The term is perverse, risking your life and the life of your extended family all for minimum wage and life in a gig economy that cements working poverty as well as institutional racism and injustice. 

Checking out careers and professions as I’m won’t to do with two sons in their twenties, I noticed that K-12 teaching as a profession dropped out of the top fifty professions.  What a shame.  Meanwhile, of all things, Political Scientists still don’t beat economists, but one site had them ranked as 47th. I can never get comedian Robin Williams’ pronunciation of the term out of my mind.

Meanwhile, those on the frontline can feel proud as they helped stop death and hindered harm.  

The rest of us, as Harvard’s Ethic Professor Danielle Allen noted, are remote and will be the last to return to work.  I got notice that CUNY is going back. No more remote. I’m happy for what I learned but I can’t wait to get back into the seminar room.  

It’s hard to know how well one connects remotely unless we get great training. Fall 2019, I happened to be teaching one seminar on social justice and the ADA in the workplace at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies (SPS). Being the semester before COVID I happened to have gotten excellent training.  I was so happy to have learned my way around Blackboard. 

One happy surprise was that the post writing aspect of remote work makes the online teaching sometimes profound, more profound than utterances in the seminar room.  I suppose we all have a voice and some integrity late at night or in the wee hours of the morning when we’re composing our thoughts and committing them to our online or remote machine.


Bodies in RevoltWe are all PwD now!  Read persons or people with disabilities, not disability.  It is rare that any one person has one disability.  It is even more rare that any one person was born with one disability.

People with disabilities are ubiquitous and they have a multitude of them, especially if they made it to the ripe old age of being a “senior” citizen who is 65 years old or older.  Meanwhile seniors are notorious for being unwilling to admit they are PwD or frankly vulnerable.  This distresses the disability rights community, no end.

COVID-19 is giving all of us a lesson in “underlying conditions” be it age or the correlation of race and age or further the causation and correlation of living with food or drug insecurity or residing in such deserts, which should be called healthcare deserts.

Now, I escaped my previous remote location in New York City, on the one island in said city that is as friendly to people like me (i.e. PwD, who claim it).  I have had trouble getting to the island (hence Fred’s piece in National Review last year).  Yet, I have never had trouble getting off Roosevelt Island.

My escape is easier than my reentry given the simple reason that I plan my escapes long in advance of the actual day, armed with accommodations for the accommodations.  Like most PwD and frankly most people, I don’t like the indignity of being “needy” or worse, being and looking vulnerable.  Even worse is being in more pain than I’m already in.  So I will suffer the first two situations to get to the last goal of living with less pain on a daily basis.

My office is stuffed full of accommodations.  So is my home office. I have accommodations and accommodations that I use every day I set foot in the office in addition to having a private person help me access them.  Indeed, my direct supervisor is instructed by HR to let this individual help me, or she can have her assistants do the same.  She opts for the latter, needless to say, though only after I involve HR each and every time when I was in my physical office at my physical workplace.  (HR is exacerbated, needless to say).

Now that I can’t access my accommodations in my office, not only do I have a mirror set for at home, but now that we’re traveling across Arbnb’s in a series of remote locations, I’m figuring out what is an essential accommodation and what is not.  What is essential really is akin to what is “reasonable.”

I know what the essential functions of my position as a central line at the Graduate Center is.  This is articulated on my workload sheet each and every semester, so it is never unclear.  In fact in my remote remote location I’m able to do an overload last semester and next.  This is very cool.  This means, I am really a PwMD who can do more and be assigned more to do in my remote workplace.

This makes me not a supercrip but a overhighly functioning one — or as I described in Bodies in Revolt, an agent provocateur. Unlike civil rights for immutable characteristics like race, freedom from discrimination from ablism is rather easily defined — it can never be defined — it is fluid.

This means that one needs to figure out the system.  And since I just hit 499 word count, the answer to my question — other than read the book — will be in the following blog December 29 or 30.  Hint, the system is not an actual or physical space like those who manage my physical or virtual or remote workplace. Plus I’m not staying in hotels.  These are public accommodations that have very clear dos and don’ts when it comes to what is a reasonable and an unreasonable accommodation.

Til tomorrow.

From COVID-19 to COVID-21: We are all Persons with Disabilities Now

We left New York City after the Presidential Election of 2020. It was so odd that we had to hear President Elect Joe Biden’s not quite acceptance speech in a foreign city at a foreign time after traveling out of JFK. The whole plane clapped when we arrived. Fred and I were too tired to process until the next day — no not Wednesday — the day after the Tuesday of the election — but Sunday going into the next week.

Of course we bumbled with the not one but two large screen TVs. We are both hopeless when it comes to turning them on in a hotel room or wherever, so we opt for our own roving technology.

Now we’re leaving and taking not one but two days to get to a place that everyone else — people without disabilities — would drive in one day. I used to travel from Bakersfield to Weedpatch to UCLA or Claremont then Men’s College in one day. Of course I didn’t drive like a little ole lady with multiple disabilities. (Fred didn’t drive for 28 odd years so he’s only the east coast LI freeway or tollway driver).

COVID-19 is now almost COVID-21. And what’s my takeaway:
We are all people with disabilities. We are all “Bodies in Revolt”. And we are all searching for what our “essential functions” are.

Essential functions (can you be an MD online? Yes but…)
Accommodations (remote or not, then essential or not)

I hope as we move toward the light in COVID-21 after darkness descended over all those essential and non-essential workers (i.e. remote workers who have salaries like me) that we can understand what happened.

The U.S. is 4% of the world’s population and 19% of its deaths. New York City was an epicenter, now it’s Los Angeles CA. What a horrible statistic.

There are 3 ways to look at it:
1. We deserved it since we all participate and live in the political system that created President Donald J Trump. Sure, the GOP is way way way more responsible but . . .
2. We should be shamed for having so much wealth, being so awful to our essential workers putting them on the frontline without giving them proper life (i.e. salary, healthcare, education, higher education . . .
3. This shame or gotta blame situation in the corrupt system of American politics could change. But only if we do “Bodies in Revolt.”

Being a one stone, 2 birds person (short for one stone kills two birds), I always opt for option 3.
Then, again, being a person with a disability that has morphed into disabilities since I was 33 years old, I depend on others to do my revolution. I’ve got two sons who can help me adopt “Bodies in Revolt”. My oldest keeps telling me I should but I can’t.

In any case, we — Americans — are all people with disabilities now — deciding our having decided for us if we are “essential” or not. The perversity is that those remote with salaries have the best accommodations, whereas those who are essential and on the front line have the worst situations — from doctors to take-out restaurant workers.

Sadly, this is NOT new. Crippled Justice — my history book shows that as does Voices from the Edge. It is only my third book on the Americans with Disabilities Act (now ADAAA) that offers me help and hope that one of my sons spilled beer on. He was taking so long to read it, that the beer got spilt and rather than getting mad, I saved it as one of my best memories.#



Laughing helps the diaphragm too

I can’t sing like Carol Nackenoff (terrific APD scholar) — though, being a PwD (Person with a Disability) since 1993, and one who has been “self-identifying**” and no longer plays the oboe (and certainly not on our rooftop terrace, though that’s where I hope to develop my diaphragm some day), Pilates and breathing — this is my singing.

Before I had the strength to do this, I tried to start every day with a laugh.  Well, a former SUNY Geneseo professor in speech pathology, specializing in cognitive and linguistic psychology, helps keep the “sisterhood” in laughs that help me exercise my lungs — one of the exercises many can do who live in Manhattan apartments.  Thanks, Joanie!

Given her speciality, I plan on deferring to her “laugh judgment” — for getting at least one of the many gut-wrenching laughs I need for my diaphragm exercise each day. Plus, it has the added bonus of preparing students who will be taking my class on the American Presidency — and will have to face the masculinity of the “Commander-in-Chief” (see below).

After you read below, remember you are only imagining a she/he/they as the last exercise.  After all, we will have reviewed all the ways American Presidents have rarely treated anyone other than SLAMs and SCAMs (straight liberal Anglo-American men and straight conservative Anglo American men) fairly.  Put differently, this is to say, many people who do not or are not SLAMs and SCAMs.  (The “identify” part is there, you guessed it, since many white, straight, radical, liberal, moderate, or conservative men do not subscribe to the patriarchy.  Similarly, many women do (more white women, to be sure). Plus, as my mother always said, women keep women from the dinner table where the straight white men of all political stripes are. Though if you watch Mrs. America, they do do lunch.

American Presidency Page (soon)

* I like the explanation after the acronym, many of my colleagues, friends and family will tell you.  This gives you creative license and people listen more to this than to the really terrible “disabled” person, and I’m bored with the debate about saying “a person with a disability” (as if any one person has only one identity 🙂 )