You are the first to know.
My new book The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving and Changing the World is at the printers. It contains more than one hundred stories of individuals from twenty countries celebrating people with disabilities as the invisible force that has shaped history. Their contributions have been instrumental in the growth of freedom and birth of democracy. They have produced heavenly music and exquisite works of art. They have unveiled the scientific secrets of the universe. They are among our most popular comedians, poets, and storytellers. And at 1.2 billion, they are also the largest minority group in the world.
In fact if the history of the world was written without the contributions of people with disabilities you would not recognize the world. It would be a much different place and in much rougher shape, even though the history books have missed most of these achievements or have given credit to someone else.
You will recognize many of the people I write about although you may not know about their disability connection. For example Greta Thunberg, Leonard Cohen, Robert Munsch, and Anna Sewell author of Black Beauty.
Some are finally getting recognition. For example, the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. During the 1960s, she was an integral part of New York’s avant-garde art scene influencing Andy Warhol’s painting style. Georgia O’Keeffe was her business adviser. In the early 1970s she returned to Tokyo and became a voluntary patient in a Tokyo psychiatric institution because she wanted help to deal with the hallucinations and panic attacks that were increasing in intensity. She still lives there. Ignored for decades she is the most popular artist in the world today, based on gallery and museum attendance. The lineups for her Infinity Mirror Rooms are hours long. You can read more about her here. Kusama is known as the “priestess of polka dots.” You’ll recognize her influence on my book’s art work.
Others you will enjoy getting to know. People like Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is a virtuoso percussionist. Glennie is deaf and performs in her bare feet in order to “hear.” She is on a mission to teach the world to listen in order to improve communication and social harmony. Then there is Chinese poet Yu Xiuhua, who is considered the Emily Dickinson of China. Her poem “Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You” has been read by millions and has made her the voice of feminism in her country.
The stories reveal people with disabilities as authoritative sources on creativity, love, sexuality, resistance, dealing with adversity, living a good life and social change.
The Power of Disability goes on sale February 4th, 2020. More details including excerpts here