Writer, activist and teacher Eli Clare will use poetry and storytelling at his Jan. 27 presentation to discuss how some bodies and communities in society are deemed bad and disposable.

Eli Clare

Clare’s free presentation is part of the Counseling and Psychological Services Harold A. Korn Series on College Student Mental Health. The event runs from 10:30 a.m.-noon at the Anderson Room in the Michigan Union.

Much of Clare’s work focuses on disability, queer and transgender identities and social justice. His first book, “Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation,” was a finalist for a ForeWord Book of the Year Award.

Clare said he became curious about the forces that consider some people, bodies and communities disposable, while others are deemed good, essential and necessary. He added many different groups and people have been declared defective, and this rhetoric serves to prop up oppression.

“Being declared defective makes it easier for the state to say that certain immigrants are not welcome in this country, that the U.S. is going to build a wall along the border we share with Mexico, and create a registry for Muslims. This rhetoric is used to justify police brutality against black people,” Clare said. “It functions in many ways to maintain systems of oppression.”

CAPS Senior Associate Director Vicki Hays said one of the organization’s training committee members recommended Clare partly because of a desire by members to challenge themselves “around students with disabilities and our understanding and how we can provide the support that we think all students deserve.

“But also because he comes from having multiple identities, intersecting identities, which is, of course, how our students show up, so we think that he’s able to speak to that as well,” she said.

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