Disability Studies, Critical Disability Studies, crip theory, and Crip Studies—whatever nuances distinguish one from the other—all must encompass an everyday politics pointing toward justice. Disabled, deaf, mad, and chronically ill people need Disability Studies that refuses to objectify us, that resists transforming us into data sets and convenient stories, that always struggles to dismantle the material conditions of ableism. We need Critical Disability Studies that works furiously to end the daily grind of shame and police brutality. We need crip theory that is relevant to poor and working-class people, queer and trans people of color, intellectually disabled people. We need Crip Studies that is accessible to people who neither read nor write, that acknowledges the stolen Indigenous land on which most universities and colleges are built, that acts in solidarity with Native sovereignty.
If there is to be research, writing, art, teaching, conversation, inventing, theorizing, and strategizing called Disability Studies, Critical Disability Studies crip theory, Crip Studies; they must include the thousands upon thousands of people who don't read DSQ, who have no access to higher education, who have been shut out of academia. We need Disability Studies that is relevant to folks locked up in prisons and detention centers; to people struggling for housing, food, and the most basic of healthcare in this era of Trump; to people disabled through war, genocide, and environmental destruction.
We need Critical Disability Studies to be useful to Tanisha Anderson, a Black disabled woman killed by Cleveland police in November, 2014 on her way to a psychiatric facility; useful to her family as they grieve and seek justice. We need crip theory that will ensure no one is ever killed again on their way to a psych admission.
We need Crip Studies to be useful to Reginald Latson, a young Black disabled man who, while wearing a hoodie and waiting for a public library to open in Stafford County, Virginia, was approached by police, tipped off without reason that he might be carrying a gun. In actuality he was unarmed; this was classic racial profiling. Latson responded with fear and agitation. The police read his Black neurodivergent self as dangerous, and Latson ended up in prison, spending much of his sentence in solitary. We need Disability Studies that will ensure no one is ever locked up in solitary again.
We need Disability Studies, Critical Disability Studies, crip theory, and Crip Studies to resist white supremacy at every turn; to never forget the million ways in which disability, race, class, sexuality, gender, immigration, capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism are interlocked. The work done in the name of these fields of study must be shaped not by the quest for tenure and academic success but by the ferocious need for liberation. Otherwise this work isn't about justice, and to be blunt, we simply cannot afford any theory or study connected to disability that is not in service to liberation.