Queer prof realizes she also identifies as disabled
During a Mar. 6 panel discussion, professor Sami Schalk of the University of Wisconsin-Madison gave an account of an epiphany she had while researching disability studies.
Schalk realized 'there was a part of [her] that knew' she had a disability, similar to her self-realization that she was queer.
During a Mar. 6 panel discussion, professor Sami Schalk of the University of Wisconsin-Madison gave an account of an epiphany she had while researching disability studies. Before conducting this research, she did not think of herself as disabled. After, however, Schalk realized “there was a part of [her] that knew” she had a disability, similar to her self-realization that she was queer.
Schalk, besides being a professor of Gender & Women's Studies, describes herself as “polyamorous and a pleasure activist.” She has also "twerked" with Lizzo.
Schalk spoke with Vilissa Thompson, a social worker, on the CUNY Graduate Center YouTube channel about Schalk’s research and book titled “Black Disability Politics.”
“So I took this [disability studies] class, and it blew my mind. Just fireworks going off in my brain … I had spent so much time thinking about race and gender and class and sexuality, and I had just not been thinking about disability with the same critical lens,” Schalk said of her first experiences encountering the discipline in college.
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“I had to grapple with my own privilege within the disability system, because at the time I didn’t understand myself as disabled,” she continued. She then added, “[T]here was a part of me that knew, just like there was a part of me that knew I was queer."
Schalk did not specify in the panel discussion in what way she considers herself disabled, though in her book on the subject, she writes that she is "a person with depression, disordered eating, chronic pain, and anxiety," and thus is "unquestionably disabled."
Though Schalk was fascinated with disability studies, she quickly had the concern that it was “very, very, White.”
Due to a lack of people of color in the field, Schalk said she had many opportunities to review papers in disability studies as a grad student, even though she did not have the qualifications. “There [were] just not a lot of folks of color, not a lot of people talking about race and disability in the field.”
She then described her realization that the attitude she had about working “as hard as you can” was racist, classist, and “internalized ableism.”
Campus Reform has covered the concept of ableism before. Back in September, a professor said it was ableist and racist if you did not wear a mask indoors for COVID-19.
At one point, Thompson and Schalk went back and forth about disability in the Black community and its causes.
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Schalk said some of the “sources of this in our community is from anti-Blackness. It’s from racism.”
Thompson replied, “The trauma that we experience as Black people is deeply rooted … Our ability to parent our people has roots in slavery. You know, how sometimes our behavior, we have not had a chance to interrogate why we carry on certain things that may be harmful within each generation about how we parent.”
The University of Wisconsin-Madison told Campus Reform that the university “supports the academic freedom and freedom of expression of its faculty, and the First Amendment rights of its employees speaking as private citizens.”
All parties mentioned have been contacted for comment and this report will be updated accordingly.