Interview with Amanda Stahl, June 9, 2022

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction / Background

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Partial Transcript: This is me--my cat's chilling, my cat's chilling on the bed over here--

Segment Synopsis: Amanda Stahl introduces herself as a native Kentuckian and licensed clinical social worker with a developmental disability. She discusses her work in counseling and advocacy. She talks about identifying as queer, saying sexuality is underdiscussed in the disabled community. She says she was the first generation post ADA that was never institutionalized. Stahl details difficulties she faces due to her reliance on the state for help with daily life. She says that due to ADA shortcomings, disabled people are still second class citizens.

Keywords: ADA; Americans with Disabilities Act; Dependence; Kentucky; LGBTQIA+; Licensed clinical social workers; Queer people; Sexuality; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:07:01 - Relationship with disability

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Partial Transcript: Like, with--you were talking about--and in your, like, some of your media--

Segment Synopsis: Strahl says that the social justice movement focuses too much on semantics rather than the things people actually need to make their lives better. She describes he personal beliefs for using disability first terminology. She emphasizes the importance of asking people what language they prefer. Strahl says that calling people ableist isn't a strategy to better the lives of disabled people. She says her views are rooted in the recent disability justice movement, emphasizing the need for community organization under this framework.

Keywords: Ableism; Community organization; Disability first terminology; Disability justice movement; Language; People with disabilities; Preferred language; Semantics; Social justice movements; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:11:19 - AmeriCorps and the disability justice movement

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Partial Transcript: So, like when I was, when I was in college--

Segment Synopsis: Stahl describes her involvement with AmeriCorps in Detroit, Michigan, saying she was part of one of the first gatherings of disability justice activists in the country. She describes the space as being very diverse. The environment made her aware of the disability justice movement and it's framework which guides her work to this day. Stahl emphasizes that to achieve freedom we have to take into account all aspects of people's lives, not just disability. She critiques the movement, saying it must focus more on people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Keywords: Activism; AmeriCorps; Detroit (Mi.); Disability justice advocates; Disability justice movement; Diversity; Intersectional identities; Intersectionallity; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:14:13 - Difference between disability rights and disability justice

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Partial Transcript: That's good, thank you for sharing that, um--

Segment Synopsis: Stahl describes the disability rights movement with its origins in the 1960s, saying it was mostly run by older straight white men. Stahl discusses the advocacy of this group leading to the ADA. She contrasts this with the newer disability justice movement which seeks to transform society and is led by minoritized groups like trans women and people of color. She describes how a capitalist society is at odds with disability, highlighting the concept of ableism as a particularly impactful outcome of the disability justice movement.

Keywords: ADA; Ableism; Americans with Disabilities Act; Capitalism; Disability justice movement; Disability rights movement; LGBTQIA+; People of color; Trans people; Transgender; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:19:15 - Debate over marriage equality

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Partial Transcript: A lot of changes going on in society too, like, right--

Segment Synopsis: Stahl says that people with disability don't have marriage equality. She likens this to the LGBTQIA+ rights movement and its struggle for marriage equality. She describes how resistance to marriage equality comes from a self interested desire to gatekeep rights by white men. Stahl discusses the debate around marriage equality, saying some found it controversial because it really only helped a select few get their rights.

Keywords: Activism; Advocacy; Gatekeeping; LGBTQIA+; Marriage equality; Marriage rights; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:21:44 - Developing the Independence Seekers Project

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Partial Transcript: Have any other questions--

Segment Synopsis: Stahl describes learning from her role at a non-profit agency that many people have trauma because of their disabilities. She says this caused her to start the Independence Seekers Project which offers counseling and advocacy. She describes receiving pushback from the funders of the agency because they didn't want to listen to the needs of the disabled people. This caused her to establish the Independence Seekers Project as its own independent non-profit which she hopes to expand to the national level to achieve social justice.

Keywords: Advocacy; Counceling; Disability needs; Independence Seekers Project; Non-profit agencies; Trauma; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:30:16 - Continued need for justice and advocacy

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Partial Transcript: Thank you for sharing that. That's really exciting--

Segment Synopsis: Stahl says that disabled people are making history every day just by living their lives. She says she wouldn't have ever believed she would be involved in the first meeting of disability justice advocates in the country. Stahl emphasizes that so much social progress and history has been made since the passage of the ADA. She says that disabled people don't have equal rights in spite of the ADA, and the disability justice movement has sought to account for this inequity.

Keywords: ADA; Advocacy; Americans with Disabilities Act; Disability justice movment; Inequity; Social progress; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:32:30 - Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Partial Transcript: Um, I guess, um, I was wondering, like, how the COVID-19 pandemic--

Segment Synopsis: Stahl says the COVID-19 pandemic halved the number of members of the Independence Seekers Project. She says it has made it even more difficult to ensure the safety of the members, expressing fears that the state might use the pandemic as an excuse to stop paying for people's care. She emphasizes that people aren't having their basic needs met by the government. Stahl describes inadequacies of the Medicaid system, saying its a question of economic justice and freedom.

Keywords: COVID-19 (disease); Coronavirus; Disability benefits; Disability needs; Economic justice; Medicaid; Pandemics; SARS-CoV-2; Developmental and intellectual disabilities

00:38:04 - Getting involved with ISP / Remembering the roots of the movement

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Partial Transcript: So, what should people do if they want to get involved--

Segment Synopsis: Stahl says you can get involved in the Independence Seekers Project by going to their website or sending an email. She describes the critical role social media will play in organizing the project by securing donor funding. Stahl discusses The Disability Rag, a disability publication based in Louisville, Kentucky. She discusses the importance of not forgetting the radical roots of the disability rights and justice movements. Stahl describes the need for a sense of community and power.

Keywords: Disability community; Disability justice movement; Disability rights movement; Donor funding; Independence Seekers Project; Louisville (Ky.); Social media; The Disability Rag; Developmental and intellectual disabilities