I know you want to crack some jokes about disability

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This is a call for submissions! The media likes to tell us that having a disability is clearly a sad thing. Sure, there are sad parts and sad times, but who doesn’t have a little or a lot of that? Disability in and of itself isn’t sad. It’s reality. And for some of us, part of celebrating and protesting reality means cracking some jokes. When humor is a possibility, it’s the route I always choose.

Recently, I gathered a billion light bulb jokes written by disabled people. They’re for an arts installation I’m collaborating on for the Disability Art and Culture Project’s Disability Pride Art and Culture Festival. The installation is called “I, Object(ification).” Fancy title, huh? It’s about how the medical model and the scare-you-into-taking-this-pill-and-curing-yourself industry objectifies people. The title plays on lots of things at once: A person saying “I object!” to their doctor; a person admitting that “I am just an object to some people;” and the idea that individual people can get swallowed up by objectification.  There are infinite ways to protest the pain of not being recognized, appreciated and believed for your experiences. I’ve chosen satire again.

Like this here light bulb joke that I wrote. It’s a joke about the way some people think that using people-first language is the most important step we can take toward equality.  It’s often non-disabled people insisting that we call ourselves by our self first, and our disability second.  [Image description: An illuminated tungsten bulb lies on its side, glowingAn illuminated tungsten bulb lies on its side, glowing bright orange. It's lying in an upturned wheelchair. Text says, "How many Disabled people does it take to change a light bulb? It's 'people with a disability.' Inspired yet?" bright orange. It’s lying in an upturned wheelchair. Text says, “How many Disabled people does it take to change a light bulb? It’s ‘people with a disability.’ Inspired yet?”]

The joke? What’s more important to me than people-first language is allowing disabled people and people with disabilities to call themselves whatever we want. Also, arguing with me that I have a disability rather than that I’m disabled distracts us from how many people in marginalized communities of all types are in poverty, are isolated, lack assets and social supports, cannot find adequately accommodated work, don’t have access to enough resources and support….So rather than telling us how inspiring we are for being out and about and then telling us what to call ourselves, let’s all get to work on some social justice!

Want to contribute to the installation? Visit this light bulb joke page on the Disability Art and Culture Project site. Video yourself telling any one or a bunch of these jokes using a smart phone, video camera, webcam, whatever you got. Email me the video to be included!

Contact me for more information and to get the release form to use your video in our show. The full description of the installation is on this DACP blog post from April 4th here. If you want to write and record a new light bulb joke, go for it. It doesn’t have to be about disability. It could address your ethnicity, gender, age, or any other part of your personal or group identity.

You’ll notice the call for submissions on the DACP website also talks about photos or drawings about pain. You are welcome to submit to that part as well. I just wanted today’s post to focus on the funny part.

So let’s change some bulbs and change some minds.