Our Words... Our Images

root - Posted on 25 June 2001

Our society is in for a rude awakening and I say, “Bring it on!”

by Leroy F. Moore

I wonder, are you ready for the next generation? I don’t think so! Our society is in for a rude awakening and I say, “Bring it on!” The creative talents, voices, and the revolutionary stands of disabled youth are doing their Spring cleaning—airing their words, images, and politics for the world to see, feel, taste, and smell. Here is a little taste of what disabled youth are serving up locally, nationally, and internationally. Open wide!

In the arts and entertainment section of the Asian Weekly a couple of months ago an article on the voice of one of the characters in the new Rugrats movie, Rugrats in Paris, appeared. Dionna Quan, 22, of San Francisco beat one hundred and forty-seven actors for the part of Kimi in Rugrats in Paris. She is visually impaired. Quan began acting at the age of 14 and has taped commercials; CD-ROM games, and an animated series. She has moved to LA where the show is taped.

Stephen Michael Nelson has engulfed the world through his heart and love for mankind, through praise for his mother, honor for his grandfather, and thanks to all the individuals who care for him on a daily basis. This young Native American disabled teen has displayed his first words for the world to read in his book of poetry, Stephen: Letters of Courage and Hope. Stephen had more courage than the Wizard of Oz. Stephen spoke through a mechanical device. According to his mother, Chrissy, the writing process was not easy for Stephen. Individual letters were selected one at a time to form each word and resulting sentences. Chrissy wrote that Stephen’s process of writing took hours and sometimes even days to complete a single poem. Unfortunately, Stephen passed away Friday, June 1st, the day before he was expected to promote his book of poetry. For more information contact the Stephen’s Hope Foundation at (630) 235-2245 or HYPERLINK http://www.stephenshope.org, or www.stephenshope.org and let you soul read his words of love, courage, and healing.

Michael Seal, Jr. of LA has a smile like Magic Johnson, a mind like a business tycoon, and images that will put bright colors back into the gray world we live in. Michael, an African American disabled teen who is a painter and entrepreneur has done what artists have trying to do for decades; he has figured out how to mix the business world with art. Michael has blended the two worlds to create and promote both sides of his reality. I had a chance to talk to Michael at a conference in LA. where he was selling his paintings and talking about future business ventures. Although only in his mid-teens, Michael gets around, I mean AROUND in his sports wheelchair. His photo album reads like a night at the Grammies. This teen has met many stars, politicians, and musicians. But what caught my eye were the colorful imagines he had on display. Michael lectures, gives workshops, and is working on future business plans. He says that everything he does is incorporated into his artwork, i.e. his own personally designed postcards, envelopes, stationary, etc. He is working on his own website. Drop Michael an e-mail at HYPERLINK mailto:okra-head@Juno.com okra-head@Juno.com or 17701 S. Avalon Blvd., #1 Carson, CA. 90746

On the Political Side

You are never too young to be an activist! Nkosi Johnson, a 12-year-old South African boy who contracted HIV during birth, became a young activist in 1997 after battling to force the public school to admit him despite his health disability. He later campaigned to raise AIDS awareness and fought for the government to do more to save other babies from being infected. He also spoke during the opening of the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. This young man died last month.

In the US, disabled students are rocking the boat with revolutionary advocacy, thoughts, and organizing. On February 21st, 2001 the National Disabled Students Union (NDSU) was founded to stop the backlash on our civil rights. Check out the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama et al v. Garrett et al. NDSU has recognized that the voices of disabled students of all ages have been left out in decision-making, in the media, and even in our own disabled community. NDSU is a national, cross-disability student organization. The main goal of NDSU is to mobilize and organize students with disabilities throughout the nation by bringing them to the table in order to continue the legacy of empowerment and community solidarity that is our heritage. The NDSU held its first nationwide LEAVE OUT demonstration on April 17, 2001 to protest the Garrett case and other attacks on our rights. Disabled students and their allies left their schools, jobs, and homes to remind the government that we mean business when it comes to our legal rights. Check out their website at HYPERLINK http://www.aboutdisability.com, www.aboutdisability.com, or e-mail or call Sarah Triano at HYPERLINK mailto:strian1@uic.ed or strian1@uic.ed, phone (773) 463-4776.

I like to leave you with a quote from Mutinda Kimilu, a nine-year-old disabled activist in England. He writes, “We have certain rights! What I need from you is only my rights, not a lot of sympathy.” So I asked you again, are you ready for the next generation?

Stay tuned for more words and images from disabled youth and young adults.

By Leroy F. Moore
Poet and Executive Director
Disability Advocates of Minorities Organization


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