In their new, long-awaited collection of essays, Lambda Literary Award-winning writer and longtime disability justice activist and performance artist Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centres the lives and leadership of sick and disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people, with implications and gifts for all. Leah writes passionately and personally about creating spaces by and for sick and disabled queer people of colour, and creative "collective access" -- access not as a chore but as a collective responsibility and pleasure -- in our communities and political movements. Bringing their survival skills and knowledge from years of cultural and activist work, Piepzna-Samarasinha explores everything from the economics of queer femme emotional labour, to suicide in queer and trans communities, to the nitty gritty of touring as a sick and disabled queer artist of colour.
Care Work is essentially a mapping of access as radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer/people of colour are doing to find each other and to build power and community, and a toolkit for everyone who wants to build radically resilient, sustainable communities of liberation where no one is left behind. Powerful and passionate, Care Work is a crucial and necessary call to arms for all.
Reviews and Endorsements:
Page after page, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha documents the necessity, power, and sheer brilliance of disability justice. Be prepared for her words, stories, and political thinking to shake up what you know about care and access, revolutionary dreaming, and present-day resilience. -Eli Clare, author of Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure and Exile
As a Black disabled activist, cultural worker, and collector of art, books and music by people of color with disabilities for more than twenty years, I'm excited and thirsty for Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's Care Work. As one of the original thinkers of Disability Justice, I'm overjoyed that artists and activists like Leah are writing books like this one that helps water the roots of Disability Justice. This book is coming from the bed, the streets and on stages that Leah has spoke, taught, performed and struggled on -- thats why it's so accessible and brings lived knowledge into our outdated, stiff institutions and activist movements. In this era of hyper capitalism, toxic hypermasculinity, and White supremacy, we desperately need Care Work. -Leroy F Moore Jr., co-founder of Sins Invalid, co-founder of National Black Disability Coalition
Leah knows that the world we deserve is a world shaped by the honest, messy, skillful genius of disabled queer femmes of color. Reading this book allows you to live inside the gorgeous, uncomfortable, emergent, compassionate world that disabled femmes of color have been making all along. Leah cares for us all with this work, but not in the apologetic, default, mommy mode you may be trained to expect. This care is the survivor-sourced, survivor-accountable, saltysweet truthtelling we need to (guess what?) SURVIVE. -Alexis Pauline Gumbs, author of M Archive and Spill, co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering
Leah writes brilliantly about sick/disabled/mad/neurodivergent genius, collective care work, and all-too-familiar patterns of abuse and trauma that happen even/especially in radical spaces/marginalized people's communities. Care Work is a necessary intervention for those in queer/trans people-of-color spaces and white disability spaces alike, but more importantly, it's an offering of love to all of us living at multiple margins, between spaces of recognition and erasure, who desperately need what Leah has to say. This book is an invitation to dream and to build and to love, as slowly and imperfectly and unevenly as we need to. -Lydia X.Z. Brown, co-editor of All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism
We have mad crip dreams. In those dreams there exists a decolonized, liberated future in which none of our bodies and lives are disposable. With Care Work, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha reminds us that turning these dreams into radical practices have already been done, are happening right now within disability justice movements, and will continue to build a future where we are all free. This book is a touchstone for our journey. -Qwo-Li Driskill, author of Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha has written a brave and brilliant book that captures the messy gestation and wildly liberating vision of disability justice. With passionate integrity, she tells the collective story of a movement that transforms the idea of care into a force capable of unraveling all the braided injustices of our lives. -Aurora Levins Morales, author of Medicine Stories and Kindling: Writings On the Body
About the Author:
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled nonbinary femme writer and cultural worker of Burger/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent. Her books include the memoir Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, shortlisted for Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle Awards, and the poetry collections Body Map and Love Cake. A lead artist with the disability justice performance collective Sins Invalid, she teaches, performs, and lectures across North America. Raised in Worcester, MA, she divides her time between T'karonto and South Seattle.