This letter was published on Oct. 13, 2017 and is sponsored by the CCCC Standing Group on Disability Studies. For reference to the original solicitation for feedback, visit Asao B. Inoue’s blog, Infrequent Words, accessible here: http://asaobinoue.blogspot.com/2017/10/4c18-update-sjac-priorities-are.html.
Thank you for publishing the SJAC’s priorities and soliciting feedback. I am writing to you as a Co-Chair of the Disability Studies Standing Group. We had a lengthy email discussion about the current state of the conference and the SJAC’s proposals, and we agree that we wish to act in solidarity with members of our sibling caucuses and standing groups, especially those that centrally represent Black scholars and scholars of color. Here are our main questions:
-The Disability Studies Standing Group is glad that CCCC is talking seriously about implementing virtual presence to the conference, and we hope that these measures are implemented intentionally. How will CCCC ensure that virtual presence is accessible both for the in-person attendees and the virtual attendees? Will there be captions? Also, members expressed concern about the larger concept of remote attendance: does this create a second-tier experience for members of color who do not feel safe traveling to CCCC?
-We noted an emphasis on safety and security in the list of priorities, as well as a reference to engagement with police and authorities. Given that the NAACP Travel Advisory cites racist law enforcement practices in Missouri as one of the reasons for the advisory, how will CCCC work to promote safety, security, and engagement with police in a way that doesn’t potentially expose members of color to aggressive policing practices? Who do we mean by “authorities”?
-The Black, Latinx, American-Indian, and Asian/Asian-American caucus statement asks that CCCC develops “increased transparency regarding the decision-making process in the selection of conference locations.” We don’t see that addressed in the SJAC priorities. This may not be in the purview of the SJAC, as its focus is on the 2018 CCCC, but we believe this should be a core focus in moving forward. How can CCCC implement a transparent system for choosing locations that reflect our organization’s values, especially in terms of diversity, safety, and access?
-Related to the previous question, while we acknowledge the value of the inaugural Social Justice and Activism award and 2018 activist events, we are concerned that they act as retrofits—a temporary fix rather than a radical transformation of our organization. This is not the first time CCCC or NCTE in recent history has faced issues related to social justice and diversity. What long-term, structural changes are being proposed in these discussions?
-There is much discussion about organizing with local activists at CCCC in the SJAC list. We appreciate the effort to bridge a connection between our national organization and local groups. We also want to point out that CCCC has many activists within its own branches, people who engage in racial, gender, immigration, and disability justice outside of their academic roles. Will there be any effort to draw from this rich source of wisdom in CCCC organizing?
Thank you for your leadership and for considering our questions in moving forward.
CCCC Disability Studies Standing Group