Burrito Texts: Mel Baggs and the Language of Crip Life

Main Article Content

Sarah Cavar

Keywords

social media, ableism, collective memory, activism, eugenics, disability

Abstract

Public scholar, poet, and activist Mel Baggs (sie/hir pronouns) died on April 11, 2020, in the thick of a catastrophic pandemic responsible for spotlighting long-held ableist, eugenic rhetorics that literally and figuratively structure disabled life. Since hir passing, however, Mel’s “emblogged” archive –– remains powerfully relevant to anti-ableist discourse in an age of COVID-19, laying bare the invisible institutional contours, material and linguistic, undergirding disabled existence. In this article, I will engage with critical texts from Baggs’ online oeuvre, what I call an emblogged activist archive, written both from within and in the wake of pre-COVID institutional violence, asking what it means to survive/archive against a medical industry built to hasten disabled death. I will explore the ways in which Baggs reveals the discursive architecture of institutionalization, which follows and constitutes disabled subjects –– including and especially Baggs hirself –– both within and outside of hospital walls. Reading renewed interest in the euphemistic language of “triage,” “quality-of-life,” and “congregate care” through what I call hir “Baggsian Experiential Framework,” I will argue that Baggs remixes the language of hir oppression, and at the same time, remaps the institution as a discursive condition of disabled life rather than only a discrete(/discreet) location in which certain lives are led. Further, sie uses emblogged, queercrip digital space to advance a formidable counter-discourse that has saved hir life and now preserves hir legacy.  

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