Disability in Nazi Germany

Friday, Dec.4, 2020, 2:30 pm PST on KPFA radio

Kenny Fries, circa 2017. Photo by Michael R. Dekker.

Disability writer and teacher Kenny Fries discusses the plight of German people with disabilities during the Nazi era.  At least 200,000 people with a wide range of disabilities were murdered in an attempt to cleanse “Third Reich” society.   At the same time, disabled German war veterans were feted with honors by the Nazi regime.   It was arguably the worst modern tragedy to occur to the disabled community.

“Unlike the Holocaust, there are no T4 survivors. We know about T4 and its aftermath mainly through medical records and from the perpetrators. . . That is the main reason I write about what happened to disabled people during the Third Reich . . . This is my way of bridging the silence, of keeping alive something that is too often forgotten.”   Kenny Fries

This history should never be forgotten and Pushing Limits is pleased to have Kenny Fries fresh from a Fulbright Lecture titled, “Bridging the Silence,” about his Aktion T4 research.  That research led to his video project “What Happened Here in the Summer of 1940?” and his forthcoming book “Stumbling over History: Disability and the Holocaust.”

A photo of what appears to be an old building with an old sign that reads,”Was gesach hier im Sommer 1940?” with the translation in a You Tube manner, “What happened here in the summer of 1940?”

Kenny Fries received the Creative Capital literature award for In the Province of the Gods. He is the author of Body, Remember: A Memoir and The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory, and the editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from theInside Out. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College.

Kenny’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Progressive, Catapult, Los Angeles Review of Books, and in many other publications and anthologies. He wrote the Disability Beat column for “How We Get To Next“, and developed the Fries Test for disability representation in our culture. His work has been translated into Spanish, German, French, and Japanese.

Produced and hosted by Eddie Ytuarte.

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Christopher Bowers: Heart-Liver Transplant

Listen (29 min) KPFA Radio

Christopher Bowers.  A white man wearing a button-up long sleeve flannel shirt and a stocking cap holds a guitar.  He has a short beard and mustache.  He is gazing soulfully to the right.
Christopher Bowers

Facing a transplant of both heart and liver, Christopher Bowers and his wife talk to us about massive anxiety, heart-felt gratitude and sustaining love.

In his 45 years, Christopher has squeezed every beat of life outta his congenitally-fragile heart.  He’s living with congestive heart failure and a liver compromised by the many treatments.

Now, if the planets align, he will soon undergo a double organ transplant.

Christopher Bowers is a musician and father of a two-year-old son. After high school he worked with Positive Images, an LGBTIQ group for youth, as a straight ally and speaker.   He went on to challenge his white privilege in an anti-racism group, become a social worker and advocate for homeless people in Sonoma County, California.

Now, his project is his own body.  We talk about the cost, the logistics and the necessary support for such a massive undertaking.  But, we focus on the mental and emotional mindset of this remarkable family.  It’s not all hearts and flowers; it’s realistic trade offs.  It’s putting aside individual needs at the same time fiercely, radically taking care of oneself.  Impossible?  Of course.  And, yet… it’s the only way.

Christopher Bowers, Rylan and Jen Parr.  Three smiling white faces cuddled up in front of the camera.
Christopher Bowers, Rylan and Jen Parr

Produced and hosted by Shelley Berman with assistance from Adrienne Lauby.

If you would like to follow Christopher’s journey and his race to $75,000, go here.  A tax deductible donation site is available here.

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Stuttering with Bailey Levis

Listen (29 min)

This picture by an anonymous 9 year old boy shows how he happily walks about, whistling and talking normally, until he trips over a “stuttering wire” and falls helpless to the ground. From Elisabeth Sederholm, Ph.D. SLP Ume University. An essay here has this and other examples of children’s drawings about stuttering.

Stuttering is caused by differences in the brain and there’s no cure for it.  What there is is significant stigma and judgment from others. Yet. . .   All the same. . .

Bailey Levis says he loves to stutter.

Bailey Levis says he loves talking about stuttering, loves teaching about stuttering, and supporting people who stutter and their families. Bailey Levis says people who stutter are not broken and don’t need to be fixed. Instead, he says, they are brave and resilient.

Today we talk to Bailey Levis about his work at the San Francisco Speech and Fluency Center, his experience as someone who stutters, and the community of those who stutter.

A new children’s book, I Talk Like a River, amplifies Mr. Levis’ message as does a wonderful organization, based in the bay area, the National Stuttering Association.  Videos of their recent conference are available free on line. And, here’s 13 year old Brayden Harrington speaking at the 2020 Democratic Convention about his stuttering and the election.

Bailey Levis

This program is hosted by Josh Elwood and Sheela Gunn-Cushman.  Production by Rod Akil, Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Adrienne Lauby.

Bailey Levis, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a Licensed Speech and Language Pathologist who stutters. He is the founder of the San Francisco Speech and Fluency Center, and has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses to budding Speech-language pathologists at San Francisco State University and California State University, East Bay. He has also provided trainings on how to work with stuttering to school-districts around the Bay Area.

Original air date: 11-6-20

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No Pandemic Evictions

Christina Collins

Listen (59 min) KPFA radio

During a pandemic, if you are a renter and can’t pay your rent, you don’t go directly to eviction. But, the current tangle of federal, state and local eviction moratoriums does not give most poor and disabled people the sense of housing security we need.

Click here for local help!

Christina Collins, a prominent eviction attorney, comes to KPFA to lay out the landscape these largely temporary measures.  She will detail the strengths and weaknesses of the moratoriums and tell us how to stay in our homes even if we’ve lost much of our income because of the stay-at-home lockdowns.

Today’s program gives its producers the opportunity to be part of the fall fundraising marathon on venerable KPFA-fm (94.1)

Eddie Ytuarte, Shelley Berman and Adrienne Lauby co-host.

Christina Collins, is an associate attorney at the law office of Tobener Ravenscrott which has offices in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.  She earned her juris doctor from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2005 and received her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University in 2001.

Christina has counseled more than 1000 tenants on matters such as habitability, illegal rent increases, just-cause eviction protections, nuisance neighbors, and landlord harassment.  She enjoys helping tenants understand their rights and advising them on the best course of action to take to enforce those rights.  Christina has authored several landlord-tenant articles, including on the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, the Alameda Rent Ordinance, security deposits, right to repairs, landlord sexual harassment, mobile home tenancies, and breaking commercial and residential leases.

Original air date: 9-20-20

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Tenant Resources – Fight Eviction

Bay Area Community Legal Services      510  238-5091
Catholic Charities of the East Bay           510  768-3100

LEGAL SERVICES (Income qualifications)
Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach   510  251-2846
Bar Association of Alameda County      510  302-2222
Bay Area Legal Aid (Rights Line)            888  382-3405
Centro Legal (East bay)                           510  437-1554
East Bay Community Law Center           510  548-4040
Sonoma County Legal Aid, hot line       707 843-4432


Tenants Together  (statewide organization, local referrals)
                                                                    888  495-8020
Oakland Tenants Union                          510  704-5276
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment  
                                                                     510  269-4692
Alameda  (city) Renters Coalition 
Berkeley Tenants Union                           520  982-6696
Causa Justa/Just Cause, (East Bay)         510  238-5091 www.cjjc.org
ECHO Fair Housing                                     510  496-0496 
Eviction Defense Center (Oakland)         510  452-4541
  serves tenants who have been served an unlawful detainer

Housing Rights committee of San Francisco   415  703-8644
Sentinel Housing (Oakland)                                510  836-2687
Sonoma County Tenant Hot Line                      707 387-1968
Tenants and Neighborhood Council                 510  671-5747

Richmond City Rent Board                                 510  234-7368

Consumers Union  (statewide)                          415  431-6747

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Jenn Peoples: Living in Recovery, Mental Illness, Addiction & Covid-19

A black silhouette in profile.  In the head area, we see a flower, a pill and several bubbles.  Created by Victoruler from the Noun Project

Listen, 29 min.

Jenn Peoples’ childhood was frightening and traumatic.  As a result she’s faced terrifying demons of self-destructive behavior.  Now she’s far along in recovery, not from her mental illness, but from the self-destructive behaviors that followed.  Today, she is a dual diagnosis counselor at a peer support recovery center in downtown Santa Rosa, California.

The concept of centers run by and for people with chronic mental disabilities came out of the psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers movement and, in California, has been supported by the Millionaires Tax, Prop. 63 since 2004.

People like our guest often point to the support of peers and peer-run centers as one reason that their lives have improved. Some of these folks have a strong desire to give back by helping others in similar situations.  Add training to that desire and you build powerful role models and community leaders like Jenn Peoples.

Image by Keith Alcantara from Pixabay

Covid-19, unemployment, the opioid epidemic and the West Coast fires have terrorized vulnerable people who were already struggling.  Jenn Peoples tells us how all this looks for those she knows and describes how she and others, despite it all, are keeping their feet on Recovery Road.

Adrienne Lauby produced and hosts this program.  Mark Romoser and Sheela Gunn-Cushman provided production support.

Jenn Peoples is a Peer Recovery Specialist who works for Interlink in Santa Rosa California. If you’d like to know more about Interlink or join one of Jenn’s groups, call (707) 546-4481 or go to Interlink Self Help Center’s website. They offer a warm line for emotional support. Sonoma County’s Behavior Health Department also offers a warm line at 565-2652 and San Francisco has a 24/7 warm line at 855-845-1415

Jenn also reminds us that there are many free Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on line. In the north bay there are in-person meetings at the Alano Club in Petaluma and at one of the downtown parks in Santa Rosa. A phone can help ease the mind and keep you connected to support and you can often find free smart phones in Santa Rosa at a big blue tent outside the Food Max on Sebastopol Road or in the Coddington parking lot in front of J.C. Penny’s.

Finally, Jenn mentioned Smart Recovery an alternative to the 12 step programs.  SMART Recovery is an international non-profit organization that provides assistance to individuals seeking abstinence from addiction. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. The SMART approach is secular and science-based, using cognitive behavioral therapy and non-confrontational motivational methods.  Like 12 step programs, their mutual support meetings are free of charge.

Original air date 9/11/20, KPFA radio

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Warren Cushman’s Vision

Warren and Lisa Cushman

Listen (29 min)

Blind from birth, Warren Cushman was a passionate advocate for blindness, cross-disability, and environmental issues for 15 years. He worked with the California Council of the Blind and sits on the Alameda County IHSS Public Authority Board.

But, in 2007, something happened that changed him deeply and set him on a new path which he names as mental illness.

Now, 13 years later, Warren is at long last talking publicly about what happened.

He’s chosen our airwaves to, not only recount this life-changing event, but to talk about how his family and the blind community has reacted to his recent public announcement of this additional disability.

Adrienne Lauby hosts to ask what’s changed, what’s the same, and Warren Cushman’s thoughts about his path ahead. 

Warren Cushman works with the California Council of the Blind, sits on the Alameda County IHSS Public Authority Board and adds his voice to many other groups and campaigns.


September 6, 2020 @ 4 PM PST / 7 PM EST
presented by the L.A. Spoonie Collective

Disability, Chronic Illness, and Neurodiversity are present throughout human populations regardless of color, class, or creed. Famed writer Susan Sontag informs us that “we are all subject to dual citizenship in the land of the well and the land of the ill.” Perhaps the most onerous parts of being disabled are due to the oppression disabled folks face at the hands of able-bodied, “sane,” and neurotypical populations.

Join the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective for an informative workshop on the emergence and development of Disability Justice activism; a modern civil rights movement. We will discuss many topics and concepts of ableism and saneism (the forms of marginality disabled people encounter) including: Patty Berne of Sins Invalid’s Principles of Disability Justice, Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory, johanna hedva’s Sick Woman Theory, and more. Our workshop will close with a discussion on how folks can learn to stand in solidarity with disabled people in their lives, and how to appropriately support and affirm disabled, neurodivergent, and chronically ill people.

This webinar will have simultaneous Spanish and ASL interpretation and live transcription.

Tasha Fierce (they/them/the divine feminine) is an infinite being. They are also: a crazy fat queer disabled nonbinary femme, a Black feminist, a writer, an artist, a facilitator, an activist, a scholar, an anarchist, a witch, a gardener, a crisis doula, a lover of shadow, and an intermittent ray of light currently residing in the occupied Tongva territory known as Los Angeles. Their essays have been published in White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race and Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love, and Fashion, as well as Bitch, EBONY.com, Bitch Planet and other publications. Their fiction appears in the anthology Nothing Without Us by Renaissance Press. 

Laurent Ash Corralez (they/he) is a physically disabled trans latinx community organizer and zinester. Corralez has been part of various grass-roots organizations such as Pomona Food Not Bombs, LA Queer Resistance, Revolutionary Autonomous Communities LA, and LA Spoonie Collective. They have written 5 zines about intersectional disability. Currently, Corralez has been working on a Tumblr and Instagram project documenting disabled and chronically ill individuals in the punk scene. The project is called CRIPPUNX and originally began as a zine in 2019.

Find the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective at https://www.spooniecollective.org, or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/la.spoonie.collective/.

Fireweed Collective offers mental health education and mutual aid through a Healing Justice lens. We help support the emotional wellness of all people, and center the needs of those most marginalized by our society. Our work seeks to disrupt the harm of systems of abuse and oppression, often reproduced by the mental health system. Learn more at about us.

If you cannot join this webinar live, you may still register here to get access to the recording afterwards. The recording will include closed captioning.

For any questions, please contact Lilac at lilac@fireweedcollective.org

Original Air Date: 8-28-20

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Free Gerald Reed, Free Them All

Friday, Aug. 14, 2:30 pm PST KPFA radio

The pandemic is spreading quickly among people in prisons and other locked institutions. That means many people with disabilities are massed together directly in the path of Covid-19.

Armanda Shackleford and Sarah Wild join Eddie Ytuarte to discuss their effort to #FreeThemAll in Chicago and beyond.

Many incarcerated Chicago Police Department torture survivors sit behind bars as the virus rages, and one of them is a disabled man named Gerald Reed.  We’ll learn more about Gerald Reed and the work of folks on the front lines of prison abolition and disability justice.

Amanda Shackleford and her son Gerald Reed (L)

Amanda Shackleford is Gerald Reed’s mother. Sarah Wild is the lead activist with Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which has been actively demanding the release of Gerald Reed and the depopulation of the Cook County Jail.

Sarah DelMonte & Eddie Ytuarte produced this program.

Chicago Torture Justice

Information about Gerald Reed

Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

The Campaign to Free Incarcerated Survivors of Police Torture (CFIST) is campaign of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR)

Since 1973, when it was born from the movement to free Angela Davis and all political prisoners, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression has defended the rights of oppressed people in Illinois and around the world. We defend the civil liberties of workers, activists, and prisoners. We struggle against white supremacy, the prison-industrial complex, and state violence. We demand community control of the police and full representation for Black people and other poor and oppressed people at all levels of government.

Ways for listeners to get involved:

Go to caarpr.org/cfist
1. Sign a petition/read other torture survivor stories 2. Learn how to send a letter to IL Gov. Pritzker demanding mass pardon for all the police torture survivors/wrongfully convicted

Follow CAARPR & CFIST on social media
#FreeGeraldReed #FreeThemALL YouTube:  CAARPRnow
Story of Gerald Reed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQjUKSVlWmc
Twitter: @CaarprNow
FB: Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression 
Instagram: @CaarprNow
Have more questions?
Email: cfist@caarpr.org or call PH: 312-939-2750.

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Audio Description with Ray Samuelson

Roy Samuelson

Listen (59 min.)
“Blind people watch TV. Blind people watch movies.” But, how DO they DO that?!! How does one make “A picture worth a thousand words” show up for people watching with their ears?

Welcome to the “Blind Alley” version of “Pushing Limits”.

What turns a movie into a radio drama?

Roy Samuelson, for one. Roy is an audio description narrator and, in this program, he shares behind-the-scenes knowledge. He’ll explain what makes narration effective, non-intrusive and exciting. Then, he explains how we can help make it better with something he is calling Kevin’s Process.

In this program, you’ll also learn how you can keep Pushing Limits on the air.

Yep, it’s that time again. And, we’re having fun with this fund drive. For the first time ever, a basic membership of $25 will get you the big fund drive thank you gift: a link to listen and download the “Abolish Racism Audio Collection.” You know how critical this wisdom is! Help us get it to you.

The San Francisco Orpheum Theater provides audio description to some of their presentations.  When they begin live shows again, check it out here.

We’ve excerpted from Roy Samuelson’s speech at the American Council for the Blind (ACB) annual convention.  ACB has provided audio files of the convention workshops, including several more covering audio description.  ACB also has an audio description project which includes a list of all audio described DVDs, broadcast television, movies, performing arts, museums, and national parks.

Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Mark Romoser produced and hosted this program.

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Covid 19: Black Disabled Activists Speak Out

Event poster with art by Jacob Lawrence, “Harlem Hospital’s Free Clinic Is Crowded with Patients Every Morning and Evening”

Listen 29 min
This week on Pushing Limits, black disability justice activist Leroy F. Moore Jr. makes a stunning indictment of the black community’s treatment of its disabled members.

His speech was part of a webinar called “Disability Justice and COVID-19” that also included Elandria Williams, Lateef Mcleod and Dorian Taylor.

We bring you excerpts from these black disability leaders who sit at the nexus of class, race and disability.

–They talk about Cure Culture, how our desire to fix disability is dangerous to the health of people with Covid-19.
–They talk about capitalism and how the desire to restart the economy produces disability.
–They talk about those living in psychiatric institutions and group homes, people who are all but forgotten when we talk about protecting ourselves from the corona virus.
–Finally, they talk about self-sufficiency; it’s difficulty and its necessity.

Elandria Williams
Elandria Williams

Elandria Williams

Elandria Williams is the Executive Director at Peoples Hub. She also provides development support to cooperatives, mostly in the Southern United States, and is a co-editor of Beautiful Solutions

Lateef Mcleod

Lateef Mcleod

“I am a poet, blogger, activists, and friend. Living in the multicultural center of the Bay Area with cerebral palsy gives me an unique, genuine prospective that I depict in my writing. In my website you will find links to my blogs, poetry, and where you can buy my poetry book. Please enjoy what I have to offer.”

Leroy Moore (on right) preforming with Krip Hop Core Crew

Leroy Moore

Founder of Krip-Hop Nation

Krip-Hop Nation’s Mission is to educate the music, media industries and general public about the talents, history, rights and marketability of Hip-Hop artists and other musicians with disabilities. Krip-Hop Nation’s main objective is to get the musical talents of hip-hop artists with disabilities into the hands of media outlets, educators, and hip-hop, disabled and race scholars, youth, journalists and hip-hop conference coordinators.

Krip-Hop Nation also reports on the latest news about musicians with disabilities through this website, , and columns http://www.poormagazine.org/krip_hop, Krip-Hop internet radio show and other Krip-Hop publications. Krip-Hop Projects consists of forums, presentations and performances. Our products include: Mixtapes, resource pamphlets, books and T Shirts

Dorian Taylor

Dorian Taylor

Dorian began as an advocate for the rights of folks with disabilities and surviving the experiences of institutional violence since their own life has been shaped and molded by such experiences. After years paving the way to advocate medical, housing, and transportation needs for himself and others, Dorian now attends school with hope of a Bachelors in Law and Policy. They hope to bring his motto “accessibility as an afterthought is the opposite of inclusion” into all gender-affirmative services and organizations. Dorian’s other passion is all things Kayak.

This program produced by Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Adrienne Lauby.  Adrienne Hosts.

The poster for this event was adapted from a 1943 painting by Jacob Lawrence called, “Harlem Series: Harlem Hospital’s Free Clinic Is Crowded with Patients Every Morning and Evening”.  It shows a hospital waiting room with a high wall. Behind the wall a black person in a white coat is doing something with a person is a striped orange shirt. The larger part of the picture shows about 20 people sitting on rows of benches. There are crutches in the picture.

Jacob Lawrence was one of the first nationally recognized African American artists. At one point in his life he was deeply depressed and entered a hospital for a lengthy stay.

The webinar “Disability Justice & COVD-19” was hosted on May 8, 2020. It featured Dorian Taylor (webinar organizer), Elandria Williams, Lateef Mcleod, Leroy Moore Jr, and chat moderation by Cyree Jarelle Johnson (webinar organizer). It was a self-funded/organized effort without the support of any institutions. HEARD & Talila A. Lewis (webinar organizer) contributed to the coordination of access and funding of the platform + a portion of the interpreting/captioning services.

Original air date: 7-17-20

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