AwareNow: Issue 19: The Source Edition

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Page 89

Allié: If I were to assume your favorite color, I would guess it is red. However, guesses and assumptions aside, what is your favorite shade? What is it about the hue that resonates with you?

Kam: Since I’ve been a kid, I’ve always liked black and white, just because it’s so graphic. They’re polar opposite. It’s strange because when I was younger, I dressed to blend in. So, I would dress in very neutral clothes. I didn’t like sticking out. I still don’t. It just happens to be that I do because I’ve decided to be an advocate. I thought the message was important to share, but I prefer not to stick out. So, it’s weird for me to have red hair, and it just happened one day. I was like everyone else who thinks “I can’t carry out color like that. I’m not cool enough to do that.” Then you realize… you are whatever you do. No one ever comes and says, “Oh, you’ve got red hair. That’s crazy. That doesn’t match you.” It ends up being a conversation point where people feel comfortable enough to come up to me because they want to compliment me on my hair. They’ll say things like, “Oh, I could never dye my hair like that.” I say, “Yes, you can, because I thought the same thing.” We can do whatever we want to do.

Red, cherry-bomb or reddish-pink is definitely a constant color that comes up in my art now. So, I’ve kind of embraced it. I never used to be into red or pink, because I thought it was too ‘girly’ and I was more of a tomboy. I really like the sharp contrast when juxtaposed against black and white.

Allié: As a talented artist, writer and speaker, Kam, you’ve inspired so many with your work. To those who feel lost within their disability seeking to find hope for their future, what one piece of advice would you share?

“Overall, you are a person that is worth having access to life, being included in life.”

Kam: I would say reevaluate what rules you are trying to abide by. I learned about ableism over the last couple years. You don’t realize. And that’s not blaming society. It’s saying that society has been a victim of it and disabled people have been a victim of it. We’ve internalized the idea that there’s something wrong with disabled people. Yes, I can’t walk. Yes, I have trouble transferring to the bathroom. Yes, I need help with things, but there’s so many other things I can do. This is completely normal, whether you know about ableism or not. When you have an injury or become disabled, of course you are going to go through the natural process of accepting this new life, but what also hinders us is we’re also thinking it’s the end of the world, because we’ve been told it is the end of the world when we’re disabled. That’s where it’s really important to have conversations with yourself and ask, “Who am I judging myself against?” What rules do you create in this world? That liberated me in so many ways. I don’t pretend to perfectly deal with or accept my disability. It’s constantly changing. I have difficulties and difficult days. Overall, you are a person that is worth having access to life, being included in life. Yes, may not always be asked. You just have to push yourself. Once more people see you, you realize the importance of why things need to change. ∎ Learn more about Kam & see her artwork:

www.kamredlawsk.com

89 AWARENOW / THE SOURCE EDITION

www.IamAwareNow.com