I found out yesterday afternoon that, on June 4th, Harriet McBryde Johnson had died. It was like the world had stopped for a minute as my mind tried to conceptualize a world without her in it. She was not supposed to have lived, have lasted, have survived - but she did. Doctors told her family that she would die in her early teens. But she didn't. Instead, she became a lawyer, an activist and an outstanding voice for those with disabilities.
I became aware of her during the time of the protests against Peter Singer, the guy who believes that the world would be better off without disabled people in it, the guy who believes that killing babies with disabilities is morally less repugnant than killing a cat. I was writing a fair bit for Mouth Magazine at the time and Lucy, the editor, sent me something that Harriet had written, and I was stunned by it. The sheer force of her mind was astonishing, intimidating. I was glad, so glad, that she was on our side.
Occasionally over the years I heard of her, read her writings, discussed her point of view with others. I always thought that I may meet her one of these days. At a conference. At an action. I always thought that possible. And now, it's not. She's gone.
So, on the occasion of her death - which I am mourning at an oddly deep level for someone I've never met, I am asking you, gentle readers to pop over and read an article that Harriet wrote that I've carried with me in my lecture notes on abuse for years and years and years. It's a long article, choose a quiet time, get a cup of tea and settle in ...
Rest In Peace
You Lived In Protest
Rest In Peace
You Lived With Purpose
Rest Harriet Rest