A Webinar with Lydia X. Z. Brown
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Mad, neurodivergent, and disabled people exist on the margins of society and even spaces supposedly "for us," targeted by widespread ableism and sanism/mentalism. Autistic people spurred the development of a neurodiversity movement aiming to affirm the value of all neurodivergent people; psychiatric survivors spurred the development of mad pride movement to affirm the value of madness; and disabled people with many body/minded experiences have consistently been at the forefronts of movements around self-advocacy, independent living, peer supports, and disability rights. Disability Justice is a framework and set of practices that honor all bodyminds. Learn how Neurodiversity, Mad Pride, and Disability Justice intersect, what it means to divest from disavowal, and how to build cross-movement solidarity across fractures of medical oppression, trauma, and dis-identification as we work toward liberation.
Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, organizer, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. They have worked to advance transformative change through organizing in the streets, writing legislation, conducting anti-ableism workshops, testifying at regulatory and policy hearings, and disrupting institutional complacency everywhere from the academy to state agencies and the nonprofit-industrial complex.
At present, Lydia serves as founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen-Directed Services, stakeholder representative to the Massachusetts One Care Implementation Council overseeing health care for Medicaid/Medicare dually-eligible individuals, and board member of the Autism Women's Network. Lydia recently completed a term as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, serving in that role from 2015 to 2017 as the youngest appointee nationally to chair any state developmental disabilities council. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color, published by the Autism Women's Network in June 2017.
Most recently, Lydia has designed and teaches a course on critical disability theory, public policy, and intersectional social movements as a Visiting Lecturer at Tufts University's Experimental College, beginning in Fall 2016. Lydia is a past Holley Law Fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force, where they focused on reproductive justice and disability rights policy issues, and past Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership, where they focused on employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities. Lydia also worked for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network for several years as part of the national public policy team, where Lydia worked on various issues relating to criminal justice and disability, healthcare disparities and service delivery models, and research and employment disparities.
Lydia has been honored by the White House, Washington Peace Center, National Council on Independent Living, Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts, National Association for Law Placement/Public Service Jobs Directory, Society for Disability Studies, and American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2015, Pacific Standard named Lydia a Top 30 Thinker under 30, and Mic named Lydia to its inaugural list of 50 impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. Their work has been featured in scholarly publications including Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Meditations via Disability Studies; Religion, Disability, and Interpersonal Violence; Barriers & Belonging: Personal Narratives of Disability; Feminist Perspectives on Orange is the New Black; Torture in Healthcare Settings; Films for the Feminist Classroom; and community publications including The Asian American Literary Review; QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology; Criptiques; Tikkun; Rewire; Disability Intersections; Black Girl Dangerous; hardboiled magazine; POOR Magazine; The Washington Post; NOS Magazine; Sojourners; and The Establishment.
Lydia is now a Public Interest Law Scholar at Northeastern University School of Law, where they serve as an active member of the Committee Against Institutional Racism (representing the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association), the Transgender Justice Task Force, and the Faculty Appointments Committee, and are a founding core collective member of the Disability Justice Caucus.
The Icarus Project is a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness. We advance social justice by fostering mutual aid practices that reconnect healing and collective liberation. We transform ourselves through transforming the world around us.