The Triple Cripples platform turns two years old today. It feels weird to realise that our whirlwind journey only began a short 24 months ago. Depending on which of the baby girls you ask, it either has a cute or a lightly “stalkerish” beginning.
The Triple Cripples Project
The baby girl Jumoke had noticed Kym on their mutual friend’s Instagram stories and decided to reach out to her. Now, Jumoke is not necessarily known for her conventional introductions and friendship making skills. But it has served her well, so far. However, we can all agree that greeting someone you had not yet met, and barely knew as ‘lover’ is a tad strange…
Of the dynamic duo, Jumoke is the one that had grown up with a disability. For a long time she was her only disability representation. As many can attest, disability can be quite lonely and isolating. She had wanted to create something for a while but never wanted to do it alone. In another part of the same city, Kym had the same idea. It was through serendipity (or creeper tendencies) that Jumoke happened to catch Kym on the IG story. What came about would change both their lives and others.
The Triple Cripples project came out of their frustration with the lack of representation of of Black Disabled women, like them and it’s social, cultural, economic & medical implications. The purpose of creating a VISUAL platform was to quite literally put their visibly disabled bodies at the forefront. Disability, illness and the people that live with them have been constantly and consistently ignored. And so they decided to be the change they wished to see.
The only anniversary I celebrate is my birthday. For so long, it has been the only date worth noting. Of all the relationships I’ve had in my life (which you will come to learn about on the TC blog), this has been my most rewarding.
The Triple Cripples was a risk, for me. I am intensely private, and the idea of sharing myself, and my lived experience with someone else and the world, was daunting. Firstly, I didn’t know Jumoke like that, to be sharing my business. But also, I was still (and am) on a huge journey of learning and unlearning. What would I have to offer? Would anyone listen? My training and experience as a performer, was both a blessing and a curse. A camera meant: dressing up, smiles, ENERGY and the show must go on – no matter what! I was determined to speak openly, but maintain my professional standards. Yet, this seems counterproductive, when those 5 minutes on screen represent only 5% of my monthly waking life and what I’m tryna do is share the realities… How do I show folks this is real? How will I be believed?
Growing with Jumoke, meant slowly unlearning the need to prove myself to anyone. It has meant hearing from folks from a variety of backgrounds who connect and understand (even with the shiny nature of screens and performed vitality). It has meant being able to be myself and share my thoughts to depths I had previously censored. Triple Cripples allows me to be all sides of myself; beautiful, geeky, tired, fiercely intelligent, deeper than deep, shallow AF, lighthearted, unapologetically Black, loving, forgiving of myself, open to the world, curious, challenging, a cat’s mother, a Goddess… Did I mention Black? Because I definitely am that.
Triple Cripples has allowed me to be the change I wish to see. A higher purpose, which often in our society, is taught to be elusive and reserved for the exceptional (of which we inevitably are not one of). TC is proof that we are all connected by the red thread of fate. It is all of our duty to protect the world and each living creature, by making it more equitable and loving.
Happy Anniversary TC Family x
I think of life now as pre- and post-TC, which is essentially pre- and post-Kym Oliver. As I had only known Kym for a short period of time before we decided to embark o the Triple Cripples journey. So, one thing that I’ve definitely noticed before that has certainly been crystallised since meeting Kym, is that I’m a very funny person. And what I found was that I was trying to be all of these things, to all of these people. So, I could DISTRACT from the fact that I was disabled. I didn’t want to be Jumoke ‘the disabled girl’.
For somebody like me that has been disabled for practically all of my life. There are certain coping mechanisms that I employ to deal with the fact that I am disabled. And for me, prior to meeting Kym, I would always try to diminish my disability. I would always say to myself, “No, I’m Jumoke first.” But since meeting her and creating Triple Cripples, I felt it okay to actually lean IN to my disability. Yes, I am disabled. But that is just ONE part of who I am and felt that I no longer needed to hide away from that.
Myself and Kym both come from non disabled families. We are the only ones in our families that are disabled. And in finding each other, we found home within one another, as well. So, it’s like “Okay, if I’ve got my sister, I don’t need to hide.” I’m okay and I will BE okay. And that was definitely something very important to me that I will certainly cherish, through Triple Cripples being created. And I hope, and will continue fighting, for that feeling of home for others like us.
Happy birthday, Triple Cripples community!