Sunday, November 18, 2012

Considering Tamar, Again

By Therí A. Pickens 

I’m not sure if I can claim to be a Tamartian. She does fascinate me to no end and, unlike some of my friends, you’ll never hear me say “I just can’t with Tamar right now.” For this moment, she seems particularly apropos, a woman of her time. Her whole schtick is very Althusser.

[Related: “That Ain’t the Move” or Why the Disabled Should Care About Tamar Braxton’s Uterus]

Case: I was watching Tamar & Vince the other night. Vince was upset because Tamar kept saying that Vince’s hospital stay happened to her. Normally, I identify with the ill/disabled/sick person in this situation, but I found a kinship with her here. She really had been through something. I wasn’t quite sure what, but it was something.

Point: As we think through the politics of care and health care, it becomes imperative to consider the care-takers. In privileging the disabled, it seems somewhat a re-inscription of abled privilege to consider the care-takers perspective as paramount. After all, we make saints (or martyrs) of those who work in those service professions: nurses, doctors, therapists, et cetera. However, watching Tamar foregrounded the way care-takers are sometimes made, not hired.

While I would not advocate her discussing her trauma with Vince (as I think he should have the opportunity to process as/when he needs), I do think that she had to make significant adjustments to being a part of a different paradigm. What does one do when fun has to be re-defined? What does one do when the ground has shifted and the private jet is available but not safe? (Just T. No shade.)

As someone who identifies as disabled, I am often unnerved when people ask my care-takers (or those who they believe to be my care-takers) how they are affected. After all, they can take a break (and are often encouraged to do so), but I cannot. We’re dealing with ontology and theirs is privileged. Nonetheless, I think we do need a way to talk about care-takers in a new paradigm, one that does not reinscribe privilege, but allows for the full range of experience.

Therí A. Pickens is an assistant professor of English at Bates College and a contributing writer for Black Studies @ SIUE.  

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