Since 2016, searches for and discussions of self-care in the United States have increased significantly. While authors who identify as people of color and/or queer critique the capitalist co-optation of this term by linking it conceptually to the work of Audre Lorde, engagement with disability remains conspicuously absent all around, given that Lorde’s use of this concept comes from her 1988 essay on cancer, “A Burst of Light.” This article proposes a reclamation of the radical crip, feminist, queer, and racialized roots of self-care offered by Lorde. Using crip-of-color critique, this article argues that a radical politics of self-care is inextricably tied to the lived experiences and temporalities of multiply marginalized disabled people. It attempts to hold the complexity of claiming time for ourselves to slow down, to take care, while also understanding the real urgency of our contemporary moment. This piece thus proposes that, while crip time is often about slowing and adapting models of time and productivity, crip time as a concept is also urgently needed to understand self-care outside of capitalist imperatives.
Reclaiming the Radical Politics of Self-Care: A Crip-of-Color Critique
Jina B. Kim is an assistant professor of English and the study of women and gender at Smith College. She writes and teaches on the topics of critical disability studies, feminist-and queer-of-color critique, and contemporary ethnic American literature. She is currently at work on a manuscript that examines the literary-cultural afterlife of 1996 US welfare reform through the framework of crip-of-color critique.
Sami Schalk is an associate professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research focuses on disability, race, and gender in contemporary American literature and culture. She is the author of Bodyminds Reimagined (2018) and a forthcoming book on disability politics in Black activism.
Jina B. Kim, Sami Schalk; Reclaiming the Radical Politics of Self-Care: A Crip-of-Color Critique. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2021; 120 (2): 325–342. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8916074
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