Friday, September 11, 2020

New Workshop in Ableism

One of the tiny positives of our current world is the switch from in-person events to virtual ones.  No wondering if the conference is accessible for wheelchair-users!  No more fatigue from long flights!  Everything is just a bit more open to disabled and neurodivergent folks than it was before (barring website accessibility barriers and cost).

In July on Twitter, I saw someone advertising a two-week poetry workshop for fifty dollars. When a two-hour workshop can cost seventy-five dollars, fifty seems like a steal.  

I emailed the coordinator with a list of questions. Yes, the virus is what caused her to start workshops online. She has had multiple years of in-person workshops with all different kinds of people in attendance (specifically brought up LGBT+ folks and PoC). She mentioned that she's a graduate of Prestigious Writing Program. It was a nice response. I wrote her again and asked if there were any visibly disabled people who ever taught her workshops.

She responded:  "There are no divisive topics in the workshop."

Okay... what topics? She practically gushed about inclusiveness and how important it was in her first email. Surely, she couldn't mean disabled people were divisive!

I asked for clarification.  I thought she wrote an email meant for someone else.

Her tone was totally reversed from our first email.  She started using smaller words and became condescending. The workshop wasn't for teaching disabled people how to write "cute, little stories for their own good" but was for "serious, professional writers".  Instructors wouldn't have time to "babysit" people through trauma or "forming thoughts".

I replied one last time and assured her I wasn't asking for art therapy.  I told her many disabled people are professional, published writers.  Some of them might even pay to take her damn workshop!

Her last reply was simply,  "I don't think this is the place for someone like you".
As of writing this, I haven't seen anything else on social media about the workshop.  The post that talked about it on Twitter is gone.  There is no website with the name (though she said it wouldn't be up officially until autumn).  Did she change her mind?  Was it a scam (though, I don't know why she wouldn't scam crips)?  If I drop the name here, will she just change it?

I promise to keep you updated if anything happens.

1 comment: