Political Education Annotated Bibliography

On this page we have gathered readings and video/audio pieces that many of us have found helpful for understanding the United States social safety net. Some of these describe the past and others are more forward-looking, but most have to do with the disability justice movement. This list is definitely not exhaustive, and we can’t 100% endorse every word, but we think these facts and theories are useful for maintaining a sense of direction in our advocacy. They are also helpful for remembering that people who need public benefits are not a monolith. Many have increased needs or struggles because of racism, xenophobia, ableism, classism, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of oppression that compound—and are intertwined with—austerity policies.


“Working Definition of Ableism - January 2022 Update,” by Talila A. Lewis, https://www.talilalewis.com/blog/working-definition-of-ableism-january-2022-update.

Talila A Lewis’s working definition of “ableism” is annually updated based on continued conversation and “developed in community with disabled Black/negatively racialized folk, especially @NotThreeFifths [Dustin Gibson].”

“Disability Justice - a working draft” by Patty Berne, https://www.sinsinvalid.org/blog/disability-justice-a-working-draft-by-patty-berne.

Disability Rights History

“‘Nothing About Us Without Us’: 16 Moments in the Fight for Disability Rights,” in The New York Times on July 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/22/us/ada-disabilities-act-history.html.

This article documents major eras and moments in the American Disability Rights movement.

Crip Camp movie: https://cripcamp.com/

Disability Justice

“Radical Disability Politics,” by A.J. Withers and Liat Ben-Moshe (eds) with Lydia X. Z. Brown, Loree Erickson, Rachel da Silva Gorman, Talila A. Lewis, Lateef McLeod and Mia Mingus, https://stillmyrevolution.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/radical-disability-politics.pdf, from the “If I Can’t Dance, Is It Still My Revolution?” blog https://stillmyrevolution.org/.

A conversation among disability justice organizers and researchers about the history of radical disability politics and the difference between a rights-based approach and disability justice.

“Chapter 1, Care Webs: Experiments in Creating Collective Access” Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, 2018, Arsenal Pulp Press. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a354481a9db0961249f52ec/t/5f5c2593ce23ec19f7cae9f8/1599874451239/Care+Webs.pdf.

Accessing care from the state can be difficult for reasons beyond bureaucracy. For many, accessing state care means giving up autonomy, the right to raise one’s children, or being incredibly vulnerable to potentially callous state workers. Instead, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha describes models of collective responsibility for getting each other’s needs met, rejecting the idea that care should be an individual person’s task. This chapter highlights the tensions in these communities of mutual care: spaces composed of only disabled people of color may have fewer inherent power imbalances between people, but can be incredibly susceptible to burnout among caregivers. And more open spaces can bring in more people ready to help, but can also make it harder to establish trust among all group members. There are also pitfalls: disabled people’s ability to find life-or-death community support can be dependent on how likable they are (which is often tied to whiteness in addition to extroversion), and networks can obscure how poor and& working-class women are often expected to be the backbone of care work. Ultimately, any model of care must be “controlled by the needs and desires of the disabled people running them,” and resist “the model of charity and gratitude.”

Mingus, Mia. “Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm.” Leaving Evidence. Aug 6, 2017. https://leavingevidence.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/forced-intimacy-an-ableist-norm/

Forced intimacy, a term developed by Mingus, refers to the expectation placed on disabled people to share personal parts of themselves to survive both in terms of being expected to share very personal information with non-disabled people to get access and forced physical intimacy for people who need physical assistance and the emotional labor disabled people have to do to ensure access and other needs are met.

“Disability, Debility, and Caring Queerly” by Christina Crosby; Janet R. Jakobsen, https://read.dukeupress.edu/social-text/article-abstract/38/4%20(145)/77/167827/Disability-Debility-and-Caring-Queerly?redirectedFrom=fulltext.

Disability, Prison Abolition, and Anti-Capitalism

“Disability Justice Is an Essential Part of Abolishing Police and Prisons,” by Talila A. Lewis, https://level.medium.com/disability-justice-is-an-essential-part-of-abolishing-police-and-prisons-2b4a019b5730.

“Decarcerating Disability w/ Liat Ben-Moshe” podcast by Death Panel on November 26, 2020, https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/death-panel/id1444679141?i=1000500357921.

Also, Death Panel’s “Medicare For All” Week of podcast episodes: https://www.deathpanel.net/medicareforallweek.

Plus, a forthcoming (October 2022) book Health Communism by Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant, https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/712391/health-communism-by-beatrice-adler-bolton-and-artie-vierkant/.

“Capitalism and Disability.” by Marta Russell and Ravi Malhotra, Socialist Register, March 19, 2009, https://socialistregister.com/index.php/srv/article/view/5784.

This essay describes the relationship between capitalism and disability, particularly how disability can be a site of profit in the absence of labor. However, the essay does not include an analysis of race/racism or incarceration, which are really not separable from these issues.