What You Need to Know about Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Get ready for Critical Social Justice: Home with our “What You Need to Know” series, starting with this primer on our keynote speaker Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Her lecture, titled “Body/ Land/ Home: Disability Justice, Healing Justice and Femme of Color Brilliance,” will be held on Tuesday, October 25th at 6PM in the University Center Ballroom (event details here). 

Based out of Toronto and Oakland, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer, disabled femme of color poet, performer, healer, and activist of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent. Much of Leah’s work focuses on people and conversations that are often underrepresented, including disability justice, queer and trans people of color, and abuse survivors. In addition to her award-winning books of poetry, including Bodymap, Love Cake, and Consensual Genocide, she has also written a memoir titled Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home. 

“Stories create the world. Seeing stories that look like your own, that you’ve never read written down before, or that are stories you’ve never thought of before that change your whole idea of what is possible, are a big revolutionary deal.”

shira-drawing

art by Shira Devorah

Leah is also a co-founder and former director of Mangos With Chili, the longest-running performance art tour featuring queer and trans individuals in North America. She performs pieces with the disability justice collective Sins Invalid and is a co-director of the Toronto disability justice collective Performance/ Disability/Art.

“[I]t was so inculcated in me that disability is this shameful story. And you know, if there’s not queer people of color space, queer people of color won’t perform. If there’s not disability space that centers queer and trans people of color, sex workers, poor people, all of the above, elders, young people, we won’t know that there’s similar stories.” 

 

For more on Leah, check out:

  • Her blog, Brownstargirl
  • This video of her performance in Sins Invalid
  • Her interview with Bitch Magazine on disability, representation, and survivorhood

 

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