2018 Federal Budget with Lindsay Baran

Listen (28 min)

Trump has something special in mind for poor people and the disability community as he moves into the Federal budget season with a tax reform agenda.  Cuts!  We’re not talking about paring knife slices you usually notice over time.  It’s bayonets, weed wackers, bulldozers and tanks — that kind of cuts. 

What cuts Trump can get from his right wing, but fractured, majority in the legislature is an open question.  But, we need to know what he plans for the disability community and who is making plans to stand up to him.

We talk to Lindsay Baran, policy analyst with the National Council on Independent Living in Washington, D.C., for the answers.

With thoughts about AC Transit, the Alameda County bus system, from Josh Elwood.

Produced and hosted by Mark Romoser and Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

Original air date: 9-1-17

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Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Listen (29 min)

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (she/they) is a queer disabled non-binary femme writer and cultural worker of Burger/ Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/ Roma ascent is the guest. Her work has been widely published, most recently in The Deaf Poets Society, Glitter and Grit and Octavia’s Brood.  Her memoir, Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home was praised as a “gritty, glorious, multi-layered story of homecoming and self-healing.”

Currently a lead artist with the disability justice performance collective Sins Invalid, she teaches, performs and lectures across North America.

Primarily, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarashinha is a self-described weirdo who writes about survivorhood, disability justice, transformative justice, queer femme of color lives and Sri Lankan diaspora while sitting in her room.

Well. . . perhaps we will get some “weirdo” crip conversation when guest Leah Lakshmi teams up with Pushing Limits producer Eddie Ytuarte for this half hour interview.

Produced by Eddie Ytuarte.

original air date: 8-18-17

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Cripping “The Glass Menagerie” – Phoebe Fico

Listen (29 min)

Phoebe Fico, a disabled woman, is currently playing one of the classic disability theatrical roles, that of Laura in Tennessee Williams, “The Glass Menagerie.”  The production by Cal Shakes utilizes a multi-racial cast to portray the conflicts of this thinly-veiled autobiography set during Williams’ younger years.

Phoebe Fico, a disability activist and poet as well as an actor, joins us to discuss what has and has not changed since Williams penned this play in the early 1940s.

“The Glass Menagerie” is the story of Williams’ conflict between caring for his sister and moving into the larger world.  It became his breakthrough play.  After he left home, his sister was lobotomized and then she lived in an institution for the rest of her life.  What might have happened if he had stayed?

Williams, himself, was disabled.  As a child, he was too sick to attend public school and he suffered a mental breakdown shortly before leaving home for good.  How did his disability affect his decision to leave his mentally disabled sister behind?  What might have happened if he had connected with Laura about their shared experience rather than helping to identify her as  the family problem?

How do all these dynamics play out in a multi-racial world?  Williams was white but the multi-racial cast of this production forces us to consider what would have been different, (and what would have been the same), for a black family.

Williams was white but this refreshing multi-racial cast forces us to consider these questions as they play out in communities of color.

We talk to Phoebe Fico about these and other issues and we’ll listen to some of her poetry.

“The Glass Menagerie” is in its final weeks at the beautiful outdoor Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda, California. It plays every day except Monday through July 30 with a generous sprinkling of matinee performances.  For tickets and other information, go to www.calshakes.org.

Produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby

Original air date: 7-21-17

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Homelessness is Local – Sonoma County, California

Listen  (28 min)

The Myth is that homeless people are older white men with addiction problems.  The Reality is that nearly half of homeless people (in one local community – 41%) live with a disability.

The Myth is that homeless people travel from place to place looking for the best deal from local communities. The Reality is that most homeless people (in one community – 79%) live in the place where they once had a home.

The Myth is that homeless people just want to party and don’t want to be responsible people.  The Reality is that most homeless people (in one community – 71%) are homeless because they can’t afford the rent.

The community where these statistics come from is Sonoma County, California.  Wine Country, as it’s known to the tourists.  Sonoma County:  One of the richest counties in the richest country on earth.  Sonoma County:  Where three thousand people are homeless.

We’ll talk about Sonoma County’s and Santa Rosa’s innovative local-sized attempts to improve the lives of homeless people at the same time they increase enforcement of so-called anti-camping laws and clean up a long-time homeless encampment.

We’ll give you ways you can do something positive for the homeless in your local area as well as examples of inhumane activities you’ll want to stand against.

Julie Combs, Santa Rosa City Council Woman.  For more about Julie, click here.

John Creager, a member of a local church congregation who worked to bring a sanctioned homeless encampment to church property. John is also a member of Homeless Action!, a local grassroots activist group.

Produced and Hosted by Adrienne Lauby

Statistics from the Sonoma County Homeless Census of 2017.

Air date: July 7, 2017

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Disability Protests of TrumpCare

Listen (29 min)

If you were inspired last week by the disability activists who sat in Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s office until they were dragged away from their wheelchairs, you’ll want to hear Anita Cameron of ADAPT talk about the deep history, the strategy and the future plans of these protesters.  Her website is called, Musings of an Angry Black Woman.

President Trump and the Republican Party are coming closer to the destruction or extreme weakening of the Affordable Health Care Act, which includes ObamaCare & Medi-Cal.   California leaders say their success would deny health insurance to between five and ten million people, including many poor people and people who live with disabilities.

Anita Cameron, a veteran activist with ADAPT, talks about the resistance in the disability community to these Republican efforts.  She has been involved in social change activism and community organizing for 36 years.  In 1986, Cameron joined ADAPT, a national, grassroots disability rights organization.  She’s served as a national organizer, strategist and police negotiator and has been arrested a heroic 129 times in the non-violent struggle for justice.

Eddie Ytuarte produced and hosts.

Original air date: 6-30-17

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Ethan Explains Type 1 Diabetes

Listen (28 min)

Six year old Ethan Borochoff is interested in many things and most of them are NOT Type 1 Diabetes.  Yet, like most kids with severe disabilities, he knows way more than the average bear about the disease he lives with.  Listen in to hear how he makes it through his days.  Ethan explains it all: insulin pumps, carbohydrates, wobbly legs and why children can experiment with batteries but not the electricity in plugs.

Last summer, Ethan chatted about insulin pumps with Sam Fuld, a professional baseball outfielder who also lives with Type 1 Diabetes.  He met Sam at Root Bear Float Day at the Oakland A’s baseball game, a benefit for the Greater Bay Area Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  This year’s benefit is Tuesday, July 18th when the A’s play the Tampa Bay Rays in a night game.  

Since 2003, the A’s have raised over $486,000 for this cause.  Click here to purchase tickets.  All proceeds from Root Beer Float Sales and a portion of special tickets will benefit the research.

Ethan is the youngest guest to ever do a feature interview on Pushing Limits but we hope he won’t hold that record for long.   We’d like to interview more children who live with severe disabilities.  Send them to us at (707) 795-2890 or via email at pushinglimits@kpfa.org.

Produced and hosted by Shelley Berman, with help from Adrienne Lauby.  Editing by Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

Original air date: June 16, 2017

Posted in Adrienne Lauby, Individual disease and identity groups, Portraits, Sheela Gunn Cushman, Shelley Berman, Story Telling - Disability, Youth | Tagged , , , , , | | Comments Off on Ethan Explains Type 1 Diabetes

Dennis Billups – “Patient No More”

Friday, June 2, 2017, 2:30 pm PST

Dennis Billups joins Eddie Ytuarte with a first person account of the historic disability occupation of the federal HEW building in 1977.  This protest of the delay of 504 regulations became a precursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Billups’ history, as well as that of other disability activists, will be on display in the multi-media exhibit,  “Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights,” which opens at the San Francisco Library next week. “Patient No More” will be on display from June 10 through September 3, 2017.
Also, with us is Fran Osborne, exhibit curator, to highlight the unique aspects of this exhibit and give other presenters hints to make their events more inclusive.

This program is streamed live at www.kpfa.org and most past programs are also archived.
Earlier Pushing Limits coverage of the “Patient No More” exhibit can be heard here.

Eddie Ytuarte, producer and host.


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“Red Diaper Daughter” with Laura Bock

Friday, May 19, 2-3 pm PST on KPFA

Laura Bock is an extraordinary blind white woman whose new memoir, Red Diaper Daughter tells an extraordinary story of three generations of rebels and revolutionaries. She talks about her communist and anarchist family… and her own journey though a life well-lived in struggle, self growth and organizing.

Josh Elwood, Mark Romoser and Adrienne Lauby co-host this fund drive edition of Pushing Limits.  Become a member of KPFA and support Pushing Limits by calling (510) 848-5732 or toll free at 800-439-5732.  During the program.  If you pledge at the $75 level, we’ll send you Red Diaper Daughter as our thank you.

Laura Bock’s begins her story with that of her famous “red” grandparents who sought to overthrow the Russian Czar and were devoted organizers in the U.S. Communist Party.  Her parents and aunt too, Mini Carson, Peggy Dennis and Al Bock, were well known labor organizers, journalists and revolutionaries. 

We talk about Laura Bock’s life of disability activism, feminism, self-supporting business and Fat Lip Readers Theater which she co-founded and performed with for 18 years.

Feminism, disability, and fat activism intersect with a family history of revolutionary struggle.  We talk about it all.


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Cripping Capitalism – Cheryl Green

Listen (29 min)
(For a transcript of the first 15 minutes of this interview, click here)

Capitalism is about money.  Capitalism is about the 80% of disabled people who don’t have full time employment.  Capitalism is also about how we think.  Capitalism tells us it’s okay the majority of people in jails have learning disabilities, mental disabilities, brain injuries and physical disabilities.  Capitalism affects us in ways we don’t always see.

In this program disability activist Cheryl Green explains how capitalism has influenced the disability experience,  as well as that of other oppressed people.

Cheryl Green is the prime force behind StoryMinders, where she works as a film-maker, educator and advocate.   Green lives with a brain injury and focuses much of her work in that area.

Check out “Cripping Capitalism” on YouTube, where Green and her co-presenter, Caitlin Wood, cover the fascinating issues of disability, feminism, and the controversy of work.

Eddie Ytuarte hosts.

Original air date: May 5, 2017

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Cripping Capitalism – Cheryl Green (Transcript)

Pushing Limits Transcript
(Approximately 15 minutes of the 30 min. interview)

EDDIE YTUARTE: OK, good afternoon. This is Eddie Ytuarte here on Pushing Limits radio program, disability radio for and by the disability community on KPFA 94.1 in Berkeley.

We’re gonna talk a little bit about capitalism. Capitalism is about money. Capitalism is about 80% of disabled people who are not employed full-time. Capitalism propaganda sorta determines the way we think. And does capitalism also tell us it’s OK that the majority of people in jails have learning disabilities, mental disabilities, brain injuries, and physical disabilities?  This is, for example, one topic that commercial radio doesn’t talk about much. So capitalism does affect us in ways that we don’t always see.

We’re pleased to have today disability activist Cheryl Green who will tell us about some of the ways capitalism has influenced the disability experience as well as that of other oppressed people. Cheryl Green is the prime force for StoryMinders, where she works as a filmmaker and educator and advocate. She lives with a brain injury, and the work of StoryMinders focuses on folks who have experienced traumatic brain injuries. Welcome to our program, Cheryl Green.

CHERYL: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

EDDIE: Can you give just a little bit of background to yourself and what work you’ve done in the disability community?

CHERYL: Sure, sure. So yeah, like you said, I’m a filmmaker. I’m also a blogger. I’m a podcaster. I help produce a show in a feminist collective in Portland’s community radio station, KBOO. And I bring disability topics to that feminist radio program. I also am a Closed Captioner because anybody out there who works in independent media, you know that you cannot pay your rent with that. So I’m a Closed Captioner, and I am halfway through my training to becoming an Audio Describer for film. So I’ve done a lot of presentations and trainings on challenging and disrupting ableism but then also doing some trainings for speech therapists and occupational therapists in how to be more humanizing and respectful in their rehabilitation and really focus on people’s identities, rather than just trying to make them “normal.” So that’s the work that I do.

EDDIE: OK. And a lot of it, again, is done through StoryMinders, based up in Portland, Oregon.

CHERYL: Yep, that’s me. Yep. I just had to come up with a business name, so. cripping Capitalism

EDDIE: Yes. Now, what came to my attention, I saw you and another activist, Caitlin Wood. You folks did a workshop called “Cripping Capitalism,” which I found on YouTube, and it’s something that I would recommend to other folks. What does cripping capitalism mean to you however?

CHERYL: I have to say, your introduction to the show is cripping capitalism. So what did you mention? You mentioned 80% of disabled people are unemployed or not–

EDDIE: Not fully employed, yes.

CHERYL: Right. And then, you mentioned prisons. And that is cripping capitalism. So when people go about talking about capitalism this, capitalism that, and you don’t include the realities of the disabled experience, then you’re leaving a ton out. So when we talked about cripping capitalism– Well, let me back up. So this was for a Gender Studies symposium at Lewis and Clark, which is a college up here in Portland. Our main focus was to figure out how to talk about, hey, all of you feminists out there of any gender, feminists out there, you’re not talking about disability. And not only are you not talking about disability, but you’re using ableism to bolster your feminist arguments. And this is not OK because there are disabled feminists, and just disabled people exist period. So if you are fighting for equity in any area, then you have to include disability in that.

So I’ll be honest–I think it might be my brain injury–I do not remember how we came up with the idea to focus on capitalism for this Gender Studies symposium! I just simply don’t remember. But we really talked about prison, we talked about freak shows, we talked about reproductive rights, and we talked about work. The way that we cripped capitalism was to look at some of the early feminism. So for instance, hey, women are not inferior to men. We’re just as good as men. Or we’re superior to men. These might feel empowering to some people, but these arguments re upholding this idea that some humans are superior to some other humans, and some are inherently inferior. That’s white supremacy, but that’s also ableism.

So we feel like anytime women say, “We’re valuable people because we work, and we earn money,” or whatever the reason is, what are you saying about people who don’t work and don’t earn money? And what are you saying about disability community who is often incarcerated, who is often left without homes, who are sexually and physically and emotionally abused and assaulted at very high rates? Every time you step up and say, “I’m superior because I’m more like a man,” yeah, just that reinforcement of inferior-superior in general. So that’s the big picture of what we talked about. Prisons, race, and disability

EDDIE: Let’s talk a little bit more about that prison part.


EDDIE: OK. So we’ve had prisons in this society since the start of it.


EDDIE: I’m thinking about after the Civil War in the South, the way Black people were oppressed in different ways and because they were poor. And they found themselves in Southern prisons and other prisons in disproportionate ways. Now, what happened to a lot of these folks who have been in those prisons? They do chain gangs where they work, and often times the prisons–run by the state at one time, and they still are–but they would contract chain gangs out and get some very, very, very cheap labor.

CHERYL: Mmhmm.

EDDIE: And that connection, there’s the similarity between people with disabilities who are in the prisons currently, and there’s a high number of us that are there who could be easily exploited.


EDDIE: And the other thing about the prison system is that prison affects disability, creates disability, or makes disability worse. That’s why I don’t see, unfortunately in the disability advocacy community, we’re not really talking about that much. To me, it’s one of the biggest, one of the major civil rights issues that people with disabilities are having, is that we’re ending up– One of the reasons, because of our lack of education opportunities, we end up in the prisons, we get disabled, or we’re easily exploited by the new trend in the prison system of private contractors that run these places.

HEARD and Deaf Justice

CHERYL: Yeah, yeah. You know, one group that I love–and we didn’t talk about this in our presentation, but a group that I love–is HEARD. Do you know about them? Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities?

EDDIE: No, tell us about that.

CHERYL: OK. HEARD is just, oh my gosh. I can’t say enough good stuff about this organization. They are a non-profit, and they really work on wrongful imprisonment, and especially for Deaf, DeafDisabled, DeafBlind, and Disabled people who are incarcerated. There’s a heavy emphasis on Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. But it starts at the beginning. It starts with people saying things like, “Michael Brown: He looked like a demon. He didn’t even look like a man.” So it starts there with the dehumanization of somebody, specifically a Black man, making them less human in any way that you can. So to say that his face looked like a demon to make him less human.

And then in terms of, in the case of, say, a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person who maybe is pulled over by the cops, they are often not given an ASL interpreter or provided communication in a form that they can access even though it’s their federal right to have those things. So they can’t defend themselves, they can’t explain, they can’t have a communication with the cops. Then they’re taken into prison. They’re not given access to communication or interpretation at their hearings, at their bookings, once they’re in prison.

You mentioned exploitation. Well, imagine what it’s like to be walking down the hallways or in a cell or wherever, and you don’t hear a perpetrator coming up behind you because you’re Deaf.

So people are getting perpetrated against. Prisons and jails all over the place are having hearing inmates “interpret” for Deaf people when they don’t know any signed languages. So there’s bribery, there’s sexual exploitation, there’s sexual assault. You might have a prison guard come up and call out to you, and you don’t follow the instructions because you didn’t hear them. Well, now you’re non-compliant.

You can’t access the classes and the rehabilitation programs that everyone else–or that some people–can access that you have to access in order to get out of prison. So that cycle continues of looking at somebody as inherently criminal, inherently inferior, and as not capable of reaching a higher potential or of getting out of prison. When in fact, we put them in there and then shut them out from communication, and yet somehow expect them to excel.

Like you said, acquiring disability in prison. I mean, assault. Anybody who’s assaulted may sustain trauma, and that can be very dis-enabling and disabling. But then also, I mean people are getting their heads hit. They’re sustaining traumatic brain injuries once they’re in prison. And they’re not getting out and going to rehab like I got to do. I mean, the cycle doesn’t end because we won’t end it. Because the prison system has always been a place to just lock people away and get free or cheap labor and to reinforce white supremacy. So that’s my thought on that.

EDDIE: Do you know in Oregon if any of the prisons now have been contracted out to private, for-profit companies?

CHERYL: Yeah, yeah.

EDDIE: Yeah, I’ve heard in California, some people in the prisons are even sent out of state for a contract or private prisons. Folks, this is a real problem we’re having. To me, this is one of the really prime examples of the relationship between oppression of people with disabilities and capitalism. I mean, we’re commodities. That’s what we are.

CHERYL: Mmhmm.

EDDIE: And we shouldn’t be there many times. Disability and other marginalized identities Anyhow, are there other similarities that people with disabilities have had with people of color and women and folks in the gay and lesbian community.

CHERYL: Oh sure. That’s a great question. And this is something that Caitlin and I touched on in this presentation, and I bring it up in the lot of the presentations and trainings that I do. And that is that we use ableism and disability discrimination as a way to oppress any group that we want to. For instance, homosexuality was considered a mental illness or psychiatric disability, and some people would still casually say, “Oh, that’s sick in the head.” But it was a real medical diagnosis. And in the system that we live in, if you have a medical diagnosis, then your job is to get fixed and get normal. So it’s not just that you’re sick in the head, but you are deviant and non-compliant and need to get fixed. And that’s a way to oppress people who are not monogamous and heterosexual is by calling it a disease or a disability.

Do you know the diagnosis drapetomania?

EDDIE: No, I don’t.

CHERYL: OK, this is one that I think that you will be very intrigued by. Back in the times of chattel slavery, this was a diagnosis. It was coined in 1851, and this is a psychiatric diagnosis given to people who African or African descent who ran away from their own enslavement. They would deemed to be mentally ill because if they were sane and intelligent, they would understand that being enslaved is part of God’s plan and the natural order of humanity. Because they were naturally considered to be inferior. And so the simple act of running away to try to live out their own humanity, they were just given a disability diagnosis and told that they needed medical treatment. No other purpose, this served no other purpose than to continue and to bolster white supremacy. And this would be assumed a supposed inferiority of people of African descent. So yeah, you talk about similarities and commonalities. Those are two big ones that really stand out to me.

The last 15 minutes are only available on audio here.

This program aired on 94.1 KPFA and 89.3 KPFB in Berkeley, 88.1 and online at KPFA.org.

The program originally aired May 5, 2017

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