Kripping Our Kulture
by: Kate Mottola
November 8, 2012
This Berkeley, CA based artist-performer-activist has made more than a name for himself in a wide variety of circles, especially among crip communities. ‘Crip’ as in cripple, get it? Leroy Moore plays with (dis)ability politics and activism, working to expose radical inequalities and twisted perspectives on disability within our ableist world.
Living with cerebral palsy – which significantly affects speech and mobility – and dedicating his life to the arts as well as community activism (art-ivist anybody?), Moore appropriates the historically negative connotation of ‘cripple’ by rocking its abbreviated version – rendering vapid the oppressive and stigmatized concept of ‘cripple’ loudly and proudly. Such an action serves to (re)gain momential control over the historicity of a loaded word and distorted belief system.
Much akin to lesbians’ reclamation of ‘dyke,’ or the popular usage and rebranding of ‘bitch,’ ‘crip’ satirizes and subverts the implications of ‘cripple’ that remain so stubbornly pinned to a history of misunderstanding. For Moore and his contemporaries, taking ‘crip’ as a campy moniker simultaneously acknowledges this history and stands for a stronger message. A message that makes no concessions, asks not for mercy, and above all fights against normalization; a message that insists more on acknowledging peoples’ differences than on glorifying struggles to fit in to limited definitions of personhood.
Not only does Leroy Moore crip out music, poetry, and performance – he reminds all of us that factors of identity and marginalization are interlocking and multiple, always already working in tandem to ensure consistent pressure from (sometimes invisible) glass ceilings. Moore is a co-founder and performer of Sins Invalid which, in its excellent mission statement, articulates these intersections perfectly: “Sins Invalid is a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse.” In 2008, this project created a kickstarter page to finance a new film entitled, Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty.
Moore, aka The Black Kripple, also formed Krip Hop Nation – a growing organization that functions as a collective for and by hip-hop artists with disabilities. He interviews hip-hop/soul/blues artists with disabilities, notably DJ Quad of LA, Paraplegic MC of Chicago, Rob DA Noize Temple of New York, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. He’s also the author of a spoken word CD and chapbook called, Black Disabled Men with a Big Mouth & a High IQ. He delivers numerous lectures on race and disability both nationally and internationally and has produced the column “Illin-N-Chillin” for Poor Magazine.
Excitingly, Moore just announced that he’ll be doing a limited release of Black Kripple Delivers Krip Love Mixtape for a cupid-filled 2013 Valentine’s Day. He added three song/poems to the initial Mixtape released last February and promises a kickass delivery. It is clear that Moore, and Krip Hop, are symbolic of a larger artistic movement for social justice. Join me in sending much respect to The Black Kripple.