Our colleague and friend, Kristina Lebedeva, is going through one of the hardest moments of her life. A few months ago, her now former fiancé, Aaron, was diagnosed with two different types of cancer. The diagnosis was bleak, the cancer metastasized and, according to doctors, he has one month left to live.
In the face of these devastating news, Kristina reached out to our department, to her colleagues, who had failed to provide support at a time when she needed it the most. She brought to our attention the many ways in which we had been ignoring her needs and excluding her from the department throughout the years, in classes and beyond. She did not have access to the networks of support that our department could have offered, especially in circumstances as hard as the loss of a loved one.
We realized we had to address her situation and hold ourselves accountable, because not only had we failed to support a colleague throughout the years, but our failure hurt her significantly in multiple ways. We had to confront our ableism, and we still continue to do so as we proceed. We created a network of supporters, informally called “Kristina’s Network,” that attempts to offer her the practical assistance, the emotional support, and the companionship that she deserves as a member of our community, especially in these trying times.
This page of SURG’s blog, named after the network, is dedicated to the latter’s events, to discussions on ableism, disability, and access. We hope that this page can also be a space to discuss disability in broader, institutional terms.
If you would like to contact Kristina directly, or if you’d like to join the Network, you may do so here.
You Caring: Grief Counseling
The network is looking for grief counselors for Kristina to help her grieve. Counseling this specific is expensive, and even if insurance could cover a part of it there are always co-pays. We have created a You Caring page for Kristina, to help her afford counseling. Click here to donate. Any amount you can afford will be greatly appreciated.
A Disability Statement or The Banality of Radical Alterity
By Kristina Lebedeva
I write this text with an array of anxieties. The anxiety of taking a stance. The anxiety of saying too little and the anxiety of saying too much. The anxiety of getting it wrong. For we are taught to not tolerate wrongness. With this in mind, I want to state from the outset that the statement in question is written strictly from the perspective of a foreign woman with a severe physical disability. In this sense, I will not be able to do justice to the complexity of conditions and experiences that the word “disability” necessarily indexes.
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