TPP 297: Jennifer Natalya Fink on Disability Lineage — What It Is and How it Impacts Families

07.12.2022 - By TILT Parenting: Raising Differently Wired Kids

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In this conversation with Jennifer Natalya Fink, we explore the nuances of her fascinating new book, All Our Families: Disability Lineage and the Future of Kinship. The premise of Jennifer’s book is that disability is often described as a tragedy, a crisis, or an aberration, even though more than 1 in 5 people worldwide have a disability. She wanted to explore the question: Why is this common human experience rendered exceptional?  Instead, Jennifer is advocating for a reclamation of disability as a history, a culture, and an identity. She is pushing for a world where families see disability in the context of a collective sense of belonging, as cause for celebration, and is a call for a radical reimagining of carework and kinship.  We went deep into this idea of a disability lineage, and Jennifer shared what’s at stake if we don’t know and claim our family history. We also discussed why getting a disability diagnosis can be traumatic for families and how it’s accentuated by how our society thinks about disability. Lastly, Jennifer shared her thoughts on making the care system more equitable by embracing disability as a collective experience rather than something individual families have to deal with.  *** Jennifer Natalya Fink is director of the Program in Disability Studies and a professor of English at Georgetown University. She is the author of 6 books and founder of the Gorilla Press, a nonprofit promoting youth literacy through bookmaking. Fink is the winner of the Dana Award for the Novel and the Catherine Doctorow Prize for Innovative Fiction, as well as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. First and foremost, she is a mother; the transformative experience of parenting her autistic daughter is the center of her work.   Things you’ll learn from this episodeHow Jennifer’s own family story led her to be interested in researching disability and disability lineageWhat a disability lineage isWhy getting a disability diagnosis can be traumatic for families and how it’s accentuated by our society’s views of disabilityThe importance of understanding that care and disability are woven into the human experienceWhat we are losing out on by not knowing our family disability history as families raising differently wired kidsHow even good-intentioned comments can feed ableist beliefsHow we can work to make the care system more equitable, including seeing disability as a collective experience rather than something families must face on an individual basis  Resources mentioned for Disability Lineage — What It Is and How it Impacts FamiliesAll Our Families: Disability Lineage and the Future of KinshipJennifer Natayla Fink’s websiteJennifer on InstagramDisability Studies at Georgetown UniversityMia Mingus
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