The friend of mine, Stacey Park Milbern passed away today, on May 19,2020, which was her birthday. I haven’t had the time to cry yet, but I am overwhelmed by gratitude for having known and loved her. I feel rage and sadness but I won’t bury myself on grieving for her. When I share her words and work here, we can all be reminded and rejoice in Stacey.
Stacey Park Milbern, a Mixed race Korean with a white queer woman looks to the camera. The woman has large glasses and is sporting the crewneck. Her wheelchair and trach are visible.
Motion Maker as well as Crip Ancestor
Stacey’s writing was enthralling and beautiful. Her Facebook posts were uplifting to my soul , and one of them touched me so deeply that I requested Stacey to compose an essay as a guest in the year 2019 about ancestry of crips. Then, Stacey has become one of us ancestors with disabilities as are Mel Baggs, Carrie Ann Lucas, Ing Wong-Ward, Ki’tay Davidson, Laura Hershey and many more.
I don’t know much about spirituality, or what happens after we pass away, but my own crip-queer Korean life leads me to believe that our bodyminds on earth are only a tiny fraction of our souls and that not taking into account our ancestors only to glimpse a glimpse of the person we truly are. Some people think that ancestral ancestry is only for people who have biological connections, but an unquestioning or broken understanding of ancestorship reveals that, just like in flesh, our most intimate connections are with those who we choose to connect to and respect each day.
Like love, ancestrality is vast and breaks down the man-made boundaries that it has been imposed upon, such as the nuclear family model or artificial borders between states of the nation. My ancestors were disabled who walked through the windows of institutions, wanting more to their own lives. This is why I’m aware that in contemplating what constitutes an “good” living, the possibility to be a part of something is crucial as is receiving the help that one requires. My ancestors were ripped away from love by displacement and war. They are the reason that I am aware of the importance of creating a home from whatever you’ve got, wherever you are, with whom you’re with. My ancestors were queers who resided in the American South. They helped me know the importance of friendships and the importance of living big, even when it’s dangerous. My ancestors all know the feeling of longing. It is often our connection location.
Illustration of Max Airborne of themself with Stacey Park Milbern, activist for #DisabilityJustice and smiling after having an ice cream. Red words read “we must have the strength for living.”
Speak Truth to Power
Together with the queer BIPOC disabled people from and around the San Francisco Bay Area, Stacey has created a place to call home: it’s the Disability Justice Culture Club. The dream of her to remodel her house and create an area to organize and gather that is centered around joy was an actual reality just in the last few years. Since the inception of the DJCC, the group was active in to make hand sanitizers and offering mutual assistance in the current outbreak of coronavirus. In protest to voluntary shut-offs made by the utility PG&E Stacey as well as a group of fat, disabled old, queer, and fat members joined together to form their Power To Live campaign.
Photo showing a news clip that ran on December 16, 2019, at KTVU Fox 2 that features Dolores Tejada holding a microphone in the direction of Stacey Park Milbern when she reads a message during a protest outside of the headquarters of PG&E.
A vigil and a neighborhood gathering held located in Oakland in October in 2019 Stacey made these comments:
In the present, when there is a crisis in the climate those who reside in nursing homes and institutions are lost. Sometimes, family members, staff and other members of the community wish to help them, sometimes even combating nursing home administrators but are unable to do so due to the policy. It’s not uncommon for those who are in institutions to die because they weren’t rescued. There are many advocates fighting for what is known as”the right” to being saved. The. Right. To. Be. Rescued.
All over the bay Disabled people across the bay are offering mutual assistance to one another. We’re calling our neighbors and friends frequently to keep track of our progress. We are working together to locate housing and help to evacuate. We are looking for generators and ice as well as medication. We make sure that our clients receive information in a format that is easily accessible to them. We host and transport people, friends and strangers alike. The world may not be concerned whether we live or die, yet we are.
Disability-inspiring queer performer Alli Yates believes that disabled wisdom saves lives. Do you remember the year when there was no air to breathe, and the Mask Oakland distributed hundreds of masks? This was the job of disabled people, too. We live and cherish each other. We are aware that no one is an island. We must live together. Nobody is able to do the dental procedures themselves or cut the hair they cut. We all require help. The hierarchy of what support is acceptable to require and what’s not being ableist.
Return home and check in on your neighbors. Rest. Think about the reasons why we need to fight racism, capitalism and classism, as well as ableism which is so naive about humanity that people are reduced to losses that they can’t afford. There’s a lot we can accomplish and it’s going be a challenge for everyone of us. Thank for your help.
If you’re able to it is possible to support those who work with the Disability Justice Culture Club and keep them informed of updates on the best way to honour as well as remember Stacey.
Venmo at @Yomi-Wrong
Radical and Care and Care
Stacey loved and cared deeply for her loved ones and unconditionally. She was a joy and delight when she engaged in a conversation or relationship. Her ideas were groundbreaking and were focused at the future. In the Episode from the year 2017 of the Disability Visibility podcast on carework by disabled queer women, along together with Leah Lakshmi Pipzna-Samara, Stacey shared some of her queer disabled female wisdom:
…I think a lot of times, people with disabilities-especially femme people-get expected to do all kinds of emotional labor in exchange for access support. It’s not considered dependent or even something we’re providing…
…It’s hilarious The friend of mine, Maddy, posted a photo of me in an ICU holding my phone and I was in charge of in charge of coordinating access for myself as I had been admitted to the ICU however they didn’t provide me with the assistance I needed in a way. So, I was in charge of coordinating individuals to be there with me in the hospital in order to make sure I was fine. It was amusing because I was trying to arrange their visits to coincide with the times I was trying to coordinate when I wanted people to get together. That’s why I believe that all of it is care work, regardless of connecting people to their communities. Because many of our friends, people feel lonely or don’t share resources, helping someone solve a problem or helping someone navigate an emotional trigger or reminding them of something that could be a sign of internalized ableism or racism, and helping them discover their power.
…So I was noting that disabled, traverse through so many different situations things, and I’m feeling as if I’ve lived many lives. Certain of them are through choice, while other plans are not based on choice. As was the case last year, I was diagnosed with a impairment, which is altering my body’s experience. We are conditioned to expect disabled people to navigate these changes in a quiet manner. It’s how you become an excellent disabled person. is to not talk about your disability , and not disrupting the ableist, able-bodied and able-minded cultures or becoming an inconvenience. Doing it all efficiently and comfortably by yourself. That’s not the real world of life with a disability.
I think it is important to admit that there is a bit of grieving and loss. But there could be some wonderful experiences that arise from it as with everything else in nature or in life. It is my opinion that acknowledging it, and naming the process of becoming disabled or becoming more disabled as a change that takes place in our lives and also as an experience that can change your life is vital. Since the majority of people, or everyone are affected by it at some point and if we could find ways to be there for one another in these moments, I think we can alter the perception of society about what is considered to be disabled.
Image from the 13th of October 2018, Disability & Intersectionality Summit satellite event held at Ed Roberts Campus. Ed Roberts Campus, a panel discussion hosted by Robin Wilson-Beattie (center), Alice Wong (left) and Stacey Park Milbern (right). Photo credit: Claire Light
“Call to Action”
Here are a few of the things I have learned from my friend Stacey Park Millbern:
- Stacey had big dreams and was determined to bring them to life. Her imagination was of the kind she wanted and was able to make it happen. Wish you the same success. dream in the most imaginative way.
- Stacey was a devoted friend to her family and friends. She made time to fight to, check in and be there for her family members during good and bad times. Make moment to show gratitude and love to those who are you love.
- Stacey lived up to her political beliefs and beliefs. She did not shy away from her beliefs every day in her actions, thoughts and words. She was active and supported diverse movements that went beyond that of those in the disability sector. Her vision of justice for disabled people as well as the possibilities for future justice was unlimited. Let you think about how you can assist and lift others above those in your circle of influence.
The Beginning isn’t the Last
Stacey’s legacy is all around her presence and spirit can be seen for many years to in the future. In the year 2000, Stacey was the co-producer for the Impact campaign for the documentary Crip Camp along with Andraea LaVant.