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New York Comic Con Panel: Where are all the Wheelchairs?

I know, I’m terrible about updating. It’s on my list for New Year Resolutions. Here’s hoping it sticks. 😉  In the mean time, below is just a collection of my random tweets, thoughts, excitement, and aftermath of speaking at New York Comic Con!

October 6 – On the road to New York Comic Con with my pass and a favorite action figure. Extra points if you can name both her identities. 😉

One of the things I began doing when I speak at conferences and conventions about disability and comics and publishing and media was start taking pictures. Why? Because I’d hear murmurs every so often of “Why do we need a “disability” panel?” or “Who would bother to go to that?”  If the audience was willing, I’d snap a quick pic and post it. Over the years, this has added up: Balticon, AwesomeCon, NYCC…and I anticipate it continuing. At least until I quit hearing the BS that people don’t want to hear about disability.

 

October 7 – For those wondering about the interest in #disability and #media at #NYCC let me show you THIS amazing audience. #DisabilityRepresent

 

October 7 – This is us speaking on the panel: Where Are All The Wheelchairs? 

Why are disabled roles so often played by non-disabled actors? Are certain disabilities not welcome in media? What can be done to give viewers a more accurate portrayal of people with disabilities? Join us as we answer these questions and more in an attempt to understand why the world’s largest minority is the media’s least represented. 

It’s a pretty awesome group: Jillian Mercado, model and activist; Maysoon Zayid, actress and comedian; Dominick Evans, filmmaker and activist (via Skype); Steve Way, stand-up comedian and motivational speaker; and me. 🙂 (And in case you’re wondering I was the “author and disability advocate.”  PS, I’m on the far left of this pic.

Afterwards, we continued the discussion in a nearby bar. 😉 That IS what you do at a Con, right? But one of the coolest things to come out of this panel, other than an awesome audience who had some great questions, was that it was written up in BuzzFeed! It’s kind of a rush to see your panel listed as “…one of the most throught-provoking panels at NYCC…”

 

October 12 – BuzzFeed article: People With Disabilities Say What They Want To See In Comics

Will Varner knocked it out of the park. Rather than just summarizing the panel or making assumptions BuzzFeed simply asked people with disabilities, “What do you want to see in comics?” And there were plenty of people with disabilities willing to tell them. Now if industry would be just as willing to listen.

PS BuzzFeed also took what is probably one of my favorite photos me. I never like how I look in pictures.

 

Touch of Love to get Los Angeles Screening!

Yes, you read that title right. This short film has had some solid screenings locally: Balticon in May of 2015, the Independent Women Minority Filmmaker showcase in August of 2015, and most recently, this May 2016, at the Reel Independent Women showcase in Baltimore. I am so excited. I received a phone call yesterday letting me know that “Touch of Love” has been accepted to Shriekfest 2016.
Shriekfest Horror Film Festival is a film festival specializing in the horror genre. Founded in July 2001, it is the oldest continually running genre festival in Los Angeles, California. This year’s festival will be held at Raleigh Studios, located at 5300 Melrose in Hollywood, CA. Shriekfest will take place on October 6-9th, 2016.
tol-poster_shriekfest

“The Beacon and the Coward” is Published by Apex magazine (@apexmag)! Now for the real #history

I’m very proud to announce that my short story, “The Beacon and the Coward” is up at Apex Magazine: http://www.apex-magazine.com/the-beacon-and-the-coward/

This is a post-Civil War steampunk story loosely based on the first all-Black lifesaving station on Pea Island in the Carolinas, and of their most famous rescue. I have so much respect for these men of the Revenue Cutter Service (now the United States Coast Guard) and for what they accomplished. The original story is one of those tales where writers would have a difficult time retelling it because it was so amazing, no one would believe it. Truth IS stranger (and in this case, I think better) than fiction.  Read the fiction; read the ACTUAL history below.

Pea Island Station and her crew. Keeper Etheridge is on the far left.

Pea Island Station and her crew. Keeper Etheridge is on the far left.

 

Captain Richard Etheridge became the first African-American to command a Life-Saving station when the Service appointed him as the keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station in North Carolina in 1880. The Revenue Cutter Service officer who recommended his appointment, First Lieutenant Charles F. Shoemaker, noted that Etheridge was “one of the best surfmen on this part of the coast of North Carolina.” Soon after Etheridge’s appointment, the station burned down. Determined to execute his duties with expert commitment, Etheridge supervised the construction of a new station on the original site. He also developed rigorous lifesaving drills that enabled his crew to tackle all lifesaving tasks. His station earned the reputation of “one of the tautest on the Carolina Coast,” with its keeper well-known as one of the most courageous and ingenious lifesavers in the Service.

On 11 October 1896, Etheridge’s rigorous training drills proved to be invaluable. The three-masted schooner, the E.S. Newman, was caught in a terrifying storm.  En route from Providence, Rhode Island to Norfolk, Virginia, the vessel was blown 100 miles south off course and came ashore on the beach two miles south of the Pea Island station.  The storm was so severe that Etheridge had suspended normal beach patrols that day.  But the alert eyes of surfman Theodore Meekins saw the first distress flare and he immediately notified Etheridge.  Etheridge gathered his crew and launched the surfboat.  Battling the strong tide and sweeping currents, the dedicated lifesavers struggled to make their way to a point opposite the schooner, only to find there was no dry land.  The daring, quick-witted Etheridge tied two of his strongest surfmen together and connected them to shore by a long line. They fought their way through the roaring breakers and finally reached the schooner.  The seemingly inexhaustible Pea Island crewmembers journeyed through the perilous waters ten times [emphasis added] and rescued the entire crew of the E.S. Newman.  For this rescue the crew, including Etheridge, were recently awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal by the Coast Guard.

Historian’s Office US Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security

And as an additional snippet of information:

Ellen Gardiner, wife of Newman Captain, Sylvester Gardiner, wrote in her journal years later: “I was tied to the mainmast of the ship with our three-year old son. I was singing to young Thomas, as I wanted the last thing for him to hear was his mother’s voice as we prepared to meet our creator, when from the tumultuous surf came the hand of salvation – the hand of a black man, Theodore Meekins.”

Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, and Ableism at Mizzou

Over the last few months I’ve been rather disappointed in a variety of non-responses from my alma mater’s leadership in addressing a wide variety of -isms and the increasingly hostile climate for minorities on campus. The fact it has erupted into protests from a sizable number students and has what looks like strong faculty and staff support says a lot about the current environment. The recent race-related events are just the tipping point of what has been a longtime problem (and one I am sure exists on other university campuses as well). As a concerned alum, the best I can do is make my displeasure known.

The Alum Supports Mizzou Students - Mizzou Logo on Black