Be accessible!

By Josefien Cornette

Diversity is a word that is often used without thinking a lot about what it means. How we help and care for people who are different has not been talked about for a long time and it is a good thing we now finally do, but it is important we do this in the right way. A way to do this is by making art and by being an activist, but we can also do this by being both. How we make choices in organisations has helped people who are different, but we must make the right choices. Often people are still afraid or don’t know how to do things the right way. They do nothing at all, or do too little, or do the wrong things. So, what do we have to do? We must think about love in a different way, we must stand up for these different people, by asking ourselves what we can do, and not what others can do.

Diversity is a buzzword flourishing like sloppy bouquets in about every funding proposal of institutions, platforms, schools and big corporations connected to the cultural field, artistic networks and our communities.

Yet the cost of what is needed to come to a point where true diversity, equity of minority groups having the feeling of participating with an equal investment of labour, is still far out of reach.

The question remains, how does one nourish diversity?

For the first time, people have started to talk about things we used to only whisper about. An immense amount of work has been done by activists through writing, storytelling, art and activism ­– or activism as art. It has often been undocumented, private work and work not seen as either real activism or real art. These words are borrowed by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha from Care Work: Creating Disability Justice, a member of Sins Invalid, a disability justice performance project that centres around people of colour, queer, nonbinary and trans people with disabilities. They have been questioning words like aid, charity, solidarity, etc. and replacing them with words like mutual aid, kinship, etc.

They reclaimed spaces with what they call Crip-Centric Liberated Zones. As Shayda Kafai writes in Crip Kinships: “A Crip-Centric Liberated Zone is a multidirectional community love practice. It is a place of our own creation where we, the disabled, the queer of colour, can exist, and thrive liberated from the oppression that relegate[s] our daily lives. When directed inward, the love practice of a Crip-Centric Liberated Zone gifts us with strategies of re-centring and decolonising our bodyminds. When directed outwards, the zone politically transforms the places we inhabit – even if temporarily – into hubs of communal bodymind witnessing”.


The idea to harvest the richest, most resourceful and fruitful crops rests on the idea of long and intense periods of caretaking, watering, pruning and weeding of fields. The idea of a farmer, a decision-maker, or something that happens at a higher level, a legislation that predicts a plan, a map, a field – to grow, play and develop at the very demarcation of the very field that was given. All too often the matter of how much diversity is present is still in the hands of whomever is taking care of the field. A matter that is a residue based on logics in capitalism (e.g. logics of productivity, market systems and economy) and not always in the interest of the one who is in need of the field. One can never trust the intentions of a farmer, whose gain is profit. One cannot always expect the farmer to be Marx.

Yet, looking for these ‘unruly bodies’ or unruly crops, unruly crips – like they’re often called in disability vocabulary – regardless of whether they are wheelchair users, black people, fat bodies, queer bodies or any body and event, concept or venue that challenges the very edges of the field, the response is embedded in a cultural history, in a gaze that reproduces sameness and commits to maintain, to order and to tire the very crops that dedicate themselves to establish, improve and create. To paraphrase a Deleuzian concept: “We don’t know yet what a crop can do”. But when the goal is to harvest profit, the most fruitful approach is to grow a series of crops that are predictable, similar and repetitive.

In her book Complaint!, Sarah Ahmed writes about what she calls non-performative action, when she talks about how policymaking in itself becomes an empty box to perform the very thing the institution often promises to fulfill – only to then put it beside them and never touch it again. By addition, exhausted people are asked to sit at a table for endless conversation that was only intended as a cash cow to plead, plead for water, with often no result. By that equivalent, it would be the same thing to ask the crops to nourish and grow themselves on the fields they were never invited to grow upon, yet here they are. As if growing in the margins would mean that the wrong weeds are pruned and might be mistaken for the most valuable resources or even native flora. The best conclusion here to make is how easy and moldable the comparison is between humans and crops – or products.

Then, what is the alternative when things go array? Should one self-organise and start independently from institutions? Then, secondly – how? How to be the weeds in the bush?


Am I practicing love? In All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks renders love a verb, what she calls ‘transformative force’. All big social justice movements have strongly emphasised a love ethic. As Shayda Kafai further elaborates on this idea: If we can’t respect each other, how are we going to be in alliance with each other? Metabolising in this way, in a culture of inquiry and respect, is how networks of solidarity and interconnectivity are made and how harms are reconciled. It is remembering that we have all been raised in what bell hooks calls ‘a system of domination’, a system that resists the journey towards freedom and liberation. A – predominantly – decolonial practice, an awareness based on courage, compassion, inquiry, and above all, love.

bell hooks writes in the book, Outlaw Culture, about decolonising that happens in moments of self-inquiry and questioning this way: “Whenever those of us who are members of exploited and oppressed groups dare to critically interrogate our locations, the identities and allegiances that inform how we live out our lives, we begin the process of decolonisation. If we discover in ourselves self-hatred, low self-esteem, or internalised white supremacist thinking and we face it, we can begin to heal. Acknowledging the truth of our reality, both individual and collective, is a necessary stage for personal and political growth”.

It is an act to think of love as a practice to cherish dreams of an anti-racist, ableist, cis-heteropatriarchal world demanding communal compassion.