After my “Close the Camps” article went semi-viral I received a lot of messages and emails from people interested to talk to me, compliment my work, and get my input on their options for activism. It was a big shift from the level of activity around my blog that I’m used to!
But perhaps one of the most exciting contacts I made from this process was writer and poet Jamie Dedes reaching out to me, asking me if she could interview me for her blog The Poet by Day, a website with focus on poetry, writers–especially new ones– and the occasional sprinkle of activism. She also let me know that she had already featured my article on her blog, as well as linking it in every relevant social media place she could think of.
I of course said yes! I had never been interviewed before and I was really excited to experience it and optimistic about the value of reaching new audiences.
I don’t know if I could’ve asked for a better first interview! We talked about my philosophies around activism, chronic illness, and Yopp Academy and I loved having an opportunity to expand on my beliefs about these topics to a difference audience.
Here’s a clip of the interview:
“JAMIE: So many people – like you and me – live with chronic, even catastrophic, illness. What can these illnesses teach us about social justice and advocacy?
KELLA: If you hold a conference for activism regarding chronic illness but you organize it in a similar way that you would any other business conference, your collection of speakers, organizers, and attendants are likely to be mostly healthy people rather than chronically ill people. If it’s energy-intensive to leave your house/travel, if you need frequent breaks or a special housing set up, if you have extensive food restrictions or you need to hire a carer to accompany you, it’s going to be very difficult, resource costly, and risky to go to a conference that healthy people can attend with ease. Even in attempting to center the chronically ill, if you organize from the perspective of a healthy person, you will leave chronically ill out of their own activism. That’s because the default systems that we have in place for most aspects of society make it very difficult for chronically ill people to participate let alone succeed.
Anytime you design a solution for the social issues chronically ill people face, you have to start by adapting your mindset and prioritizing accommodation of an experience that you’re not familiar with, or you’ll fail at your advocacy from the beginning.”
About the writer: Kella Hanna-Wayne is the creator, editor, and main writer for Yopp. In addition to creating a collection of educational resources for social justice, she works as a freelance writer specializing in content about her experience with disability, chronic illness, mental health, and trauma. Her work has been published in Ms. Magazine blog, The BeZine, Betty’s Battleground, and Splain You a Thing. You can find her @KellaHannaWayne on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Instagram.