The Landscape

Black Disabled Lives Matter: Founder Jermaine Greaves

April 04, 2021 Naveh Eldar / Jermaine Greaves Season 2 Episode 7
The Landscape
Black Disabled Lives Matter: Founder Jermaine Greaves
Show Notes Transcript

Jermaine Greaves is the organizing founder of Black Disabled Lives Matter. He is a force to be reckon with, as he has a dance video that went viral to the tune of 20M downloads, has started a brand "Not Like The Other Kids" and is an amazing activist. Listen to Jermaine's story from immigrating to the United States, to clubbing, to being a college student, to organizing BDLM events. Oh, and he's been in a few commercials, too. Listen with an open mind and open heart.

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Naveh Eldar  0:00  
People will come in to this episode with very strong feelings about black disabled Lives Matter, or black lives matter. And so I wanted to allow myself to have a little rant. And I should actually start a series of vaes rants, right? So I was at a conference, a Diversity and Inclusion Conference, and the presenter was speaking about suppression, and discrimination, and several times had said that black Americans are the most suppressed people in the United States. Now, keep in mind, I, myself am a black American. And I'm an introvert, believe it or not, and so I tend to not speak at conferences, unless I'm directly called on. But after she said it, like three or four times, you know, I raised my hand and I was, and I said, you know, you have strong points 100% with you, that a lot of work needs to be done. But I don't know if black Americans are the most discriminated against group in the United States, and for sure, not the most oppressed group, because I will put that on the disability community. I mean, when you look at the fact that only 30% of a group is employed, that says something when I work directly with people who are adults, 30 years old, 40 years old, and they're not allowed to get a tattoo, because their uncle who they don't even live with won't let them. And that's just normal for certain groups within the disability community. To me, that's, that's not something that should be just glossed over. And so afterwards, there were actually several people in the conference that came up to me and thanked me for making this statement. One of the things that struck me when I'm speaking to Jermaine is that, you know, he started this, it's a lesson for everybody, because there's always levels. And so he went to an event that was a Black Lives Matter event, and found it hard to participate, because people just didn't think about him. Right. So we're at an event, this asking for other people to think about us in an equal way. But they weren't thinking about a whole different group of people in an equal way, if that makes sense to you. And so it was just a very interesting conversation. He is a very dynamic and honest young man and and I hope that you listen to this episode with an open mind and with an open heart and, and send me your thoughts. You know, you can send emails to comments at the landscape, podcast calm or you can message me through social media. I would love to hear your thoughts. And so let's move on to the episode.

Welcome to the landscape, a podcast to shed light on the people programs and businesses that are changing the landscape for individuals with any type of disability. I'm your host Naveh Eldar. Today's guest is Jermaine Greaves, who is the founder of black disabled Lives Matter. He's also a brand creator, an artist, a student, an immigrant, and so much more. Jermaine is fearless in being himself and speaking His truth. If you're new to landscape, make sure to subscribe, share with friends and leave a review. If you listen on Apple podcast. Not today's conversation starts with Jermaine telling us about immigrating to the United States at the age of nine.

Jermaine Greaves  4:13  
Ah, I emigrated to the United States, October of 2001, immediately after 911 and I migrated from Georgetown, Guyana. That's where I came from. And my mother migrated me to America and I lived in New York since that time, and for me, being an immigrant in a foreign country. My experience with a disabled person in a foreign country was there was no accessibility. That wasn't my experience. That's how I grew up. I just realized like I can't get around. Like the rest of my family members. My peers actually had to be in a stroller when I was a young boy before I even went into a wheelchair at 10 years old or nine and a half years old. My experience with accessibility was literally a stroller, I didn't even have a wheelchair back then I migrated to a stroller before I went into my first wheelchair. And an experience made me realize how different I was from all the kids in school. And just just growing up, I had to learn how inaccessible things were and how much harder it is for me to get around, as opposed to the average person.

Naveh Eldar  5:36  
And so let's talk a little bit about I was going to talk about it later. But let's jump into it now. Because people may have questions. So talk a little bit about your disability, and why you needed a stroller and why you needed a wheelchair in the first place.

Jermaine Greaves  5:47  
Okay, so my disability has cerebral palsy, also known as the technical term, spastic is a pleasure, that that's the actual medical term. So basically, my brain and my nerves do not get along. And that's the premise of my disability, that I have some nerve issues, I have some motor skill issues, I have problems on a consistent basis. And that's my experience as a disabled person. And I have to use a wheelchair, because I cannot stand up for long periods of time, because of the spasms.

Naveh Eldar  6:26  
I'm glad that you made that point. Because as many other wheelchair users I know, talk about. Many people think that if you use a wheelchair, you you can't stand or you can't walk at all. And so you actually can stand and we'll actually get a little to a little story of that later. And so how much do you remember of before you move to the United States, in the differences both culturally and through accessibility between the two,

Jermaine Greaves  6:55  
I remember, I remember like it happened yesterday. One of the things I did notice is because I had to use a stroller, I had to wait on people, which is a theme for anyone who is disabled. But also culturally, people were in this habit of taking care of me. They wanted to help me with everything, they wanted to do everything for me. Culturally, in America, the only slight difference is there are people that teach you things to be more independent, culturally, in a foreign country, trying to do everything to help you because they don't have the kind of language to take care of somebody that is disabled.

Naveh Eldar  7:42  
But you are extremely independent. And again, that's going to unfold as this episode goes on. So where did that come from? Where did you get that, that drive and that confidence to be so independent,

Jermaine Greaves  7:55  
my mother and then my family members. In Ghana and America, they didn't treat me like a person with a disability. And I think that is a big thing. You don't want to make the person with a disability feel like they can't do anything. And that was a big thing. My mother raised me on you to learn how to take care of yourself, you've got to be responsible for yourself as you get older, because as I get older, I may not be able to take care of you. So figuring out how to take care of yourself on your own as you navigate into your childhood and your adulthood and into your teens, is not just about taking care of yourself. But also knowing that like, if nobody is there, you can have your own self doubt. And that is a big thing for me and, and that's what I push for. But I also realize that there are those people that need 24 seven care, and may need it consistently. And that is also a situation we don't talk about enough. The people who are bed bound and people who may need it all the time. Um, there are those that need that for the rest of their lives also.

Naveh Eldar  9:12  
And so now I can't even imagine what it was like for you. So now you're nine years old turning 10. When you're 10, you get your first wheelchair. You're now in Brooklyn, New York, of all places. So what was that experience? What was it like going to school in Brooklyn? period like for anybody and then specifically for you,

Jermaine Greaves  9:33  
Mr. Grant, I got the jokes go back to your country. I got the you know, the stand. You know, your immigrant student coming into a new school I got those jokes, but I also got the disabled jokes as well. You're retarded. You can't do anything for yourself. What's wrong with you? Like I got the type of jokes were not really dealt with. Some things that were hurtful to me. And I also experienced some racism when I started going to like, more events. Like I went to a camp in oakhurst, New Jersey, called Camp ochres. That's not their name anymore, but that was their name. But when I went there was called Campo cursed. And someone literally called me an Oreo. Because they thought I was talking right, white. Oh, it was just, it was just a lot of different things I experienced I experienced immigrant racism, I experienced actual racism. I experienced cultural insensitivity, because I was not an American at all. I wasn't even from here. And I was trying to learn as much cultural things that I could think to get to survive in school, basically. It was a lot of transitioning. rahner Yeah.

Naveh Eldar  10:58  
Where did you find kindness? I mean, where did you did you make friends? Did you have teachers that the kinds of

Jermaine Greaves  11:05  
Yeah, I did have teachers that were, were there for me, um, the most difficult time for me was probably Middle School. Because I didn't have any friends or much friends at that. And I was being bullied a lot, just a lot. And the school I went to was, like, smack in the hood,

Unknown Speaker  11:30  

Jermaine Greaves  11:31  
in this rough part of town, it's, it's pretty good. If you would consider what it is. It's kind of rough, you're dealing with things, there's like, five, school bus, there's like, all kinds of they're fighting your school. And people are just not being sensitive. And I was probably the first person in my school, because that was a brand new school at the time, that was starting up. And that was probably the only person in my school that was disabled. At first, it was just rough, because I had to educate people. And I find this, even now, as I'm much older, much more of an adult and, and about to get a college degree and other things and, and to my name, I'm still educating people on how to treat me, and even how to approach me as a person. Right? Because I feel like the biggest problem that society has, is they were never taught how to approach people with disabilities. So you have to constantly teach people how to treat you, and where your boundaries lie and What you won't do and will do and vice versa.

Naveh Eldar  12:47  
That, you know, that spot on, I had a previous guest that was talking about employment in the disability community. And he was saying, you know, people aren't comfortable being around individuals at a coffee shop, right. And so if they're hiring somebody, and they walk in with a disability, they're not going to be comfortable. And so they're going to lean towards not hiring them. So you're right, like, it has to be normalized. And it has to be, you know, your, your domain and just see all the gifts and talents that you have, and you know, kind of forget the rest of the stuff. But I know that in school, I know you're an artist, you have some beautiful artwork, by the way, I was looking at it earlier. And I believe that you got started in art in school. So tell us how that journey started.

Jermaine Greaves  13:33  
That journey started Oh my god. So I was nine years old. And I was in school talent show. Performing Arts theater in elementary school and middle school. That's where my journey started. I started singing at 1213 I started performing around that time to show us how you know, you're this young kid, I was part of many different organizations, starlight starbright and Make A Wish Foundation and I was able to see a lot of cultural things in New York City at the time it and just go on different school trips and realize what was out there. And also my mom would take me on like road trips, and things of that nature, just being culturally aware of what else is out there besides what I was living in, or the situations I was living in or, or the way I saw things in my neighborhood. And that's what really helped me to see that the world is big, and that there's other things out there than what you're used to.

Naveh Eldar  14:38  
And then I know that you are big into event planning. Yes. And where did that start? And how did that passion start? And is that what you're studying in school right

Jermaine Greaves  14:47  
now? No, I'm actually a theater major in college. Planning was an accident, really, it was a friend of mine invited me to Club. He did go and I was like, I think I like this. But then I realized there's no one like way here. So at the top was nine 2010. I was out of high school, I had just started my first year of college. I was a theater major at the time, but then I realized, you know what, I'm going to leave college and commit to events for a certain number of years, and see, see what I can learn in the industry when I started in the industry. And no one was paying me absolutely know what I had to fight to get paid little fight. It was it was this thing of like, Are you trying to play me? Because if you are, I'm not gonna put up with this. And I had to put my foot down with numerous artists, people that know me know, like, I'm very serious about what I'm doing. And if you mess with my money, I come after you. You know, like, rappers know me, like big man. rappers know me. And a lot of celebrities know me managers know me, people are very much aware that I'm here. But what I learned in the early days of me becoming an event planner is like, you cannot be too friendly with everybody. And some people just not about business, they'll just tell you, your pipe dream. And that's a big thing that I've learned over the years. Like, I don't want to be around people that selling me something, I want to see what you actually can do. So that so and then realizing that just not everybody is about the business. After I learned that I just moved differently. Um, I feel this is the fourth time I've reinvented myself I've had moments of reinvention throughout my career. And I haven't really had a slow down moment, maybe things may have shifted, but it hasn't necessarily slowed down.

Naveh Eldar  17:04  
It sounds like you've you've decided to move on from that. But did you have any favorite events that you have planned?

Jermaine Greaves  17:10  
moved on from event planning? Again, I think my skills have shifted. Now I plan activist events and things that are pertaining to disability activism. Now I do. That wasn't what I was doing. Before, I was actually more of an event planner in the clubs, and then the festival. I used to work for Afro punk, and the Brooklyn Music Festival. But I retired from that in 2017. I did that from 2013 to 2017. And I just didn't do that anymore. But I use my skills in other ways. Sometimes. If I'm not putting an event together, I manage artists to work with businesses on the side, it really depends. I'm all over the place. You won't. You may not see me, but I'm there. That's the kind of person I am.

Naveh Eldar  18:03  
And so wasn't it the afropunk festival that you went viral? Was that Yeah,

Jermaine Greaves  18:08  
I went viral there. You know, funny story about that whole moment in 2019. I got fired a week before that moment. Like, I had lost my job at Macy's. And I went to a manifestation of that call live like nipsey hussle. And my friend, she invited me, I was kind of going through this rough patch of like, What do I do? And I'm like, What do I do for this event? And I kind of went on this big rant of like, I worked so hard. I'm thinking to myself, I'm I'm I've been at this industry for like 12 years. And people still try to ignore me. Although they know the work that I do, they kind of play me and pretend like I'm not really here. And I kind of went on this big rant A week later, I went viral. Right, so

Naveh Eldar  19:06  
So talk about that. So talk about that moment a little bit. I'm gonna I'm gonna share the link in the description of this page. And I'll share it on on social media too. But but kind of describe that moment. So for

Jermaine Greaves  19:16  
me, I went to the event almost has like an answer to what I was looking for. Because, again, I just my job at Macy's. I'm like, and I had not I just moved into my place, but I had just started like, getting into my new apartment. And here we go. I'm fired. I don't know what to do. What's next. One of the things I've learned is like the universe is listening. Even when you think is going to happen, it is going to happen is just how it happened. Um, you know, a week later, I went viral and I'm on all these platforms and I'm the site model or the next week and you know, I'm doing things I'm working with a management company and I'm finding an acting co found me and is working with me professionally to get me into acting gigs. And you know, the people that you need to help you are you going to go? They're going to find you. And in that moment, people found me.

Naveh Eldar  20:18  
Right? So in this in this clip that went viral, you know, you're just at this festival, and you dancing. This is and this is why it went viral, right? As I'm telling you, as me as somebody who's watching it, myself, like, this is not like a story. It look, there are moments when you lose yourself in something, right? Like, like, that's what's beautiful about art is you'll see like an artist, just like a musician, this just like completely loses themselves in the music. And it seemed like you had completely lost yourself in dance. And then the people around you seem to vibe off of that. And we're like losing themselves like it in connection to you though, right. And so it was just this, the energy of that video is just insane. And so I know, the the last I read, it had like 10 million views worldwide. I don't know, if you, if there's an update number, it's probably

Jermaine Greaves  21:13  
like maybe 20 or 30 million now. And people still, like companies still ask me for the video. And like other groups, like I've been able to do things with video. And even with my other stuff with the activism stuff, I've been able to do things like recently just featured in PBS, for activism and my work with black disabled Lives Matter. That was in January, and then February, I did an article pertaining to that. So my work is beginning to expand much further than I thought it would. And honestly, I'm very proud of, of the kind of work that I'm doing. And it's coming from a pure place. That's what I'm really proud of that it's genuinely something that people can relate to. Because a lot, a lot of what my message is, and what I'm trying to really do is be relatable. And the disability experience, I don't want it to be something that is old, I want it to be Korean, I want it to be now I want it, I want my story to relate to the everyday person that is disabled, instead of it just being a How does somebody with a disability live, I want you to be able to see that, like I go to school, but like I'm also a third party. Now if I have fun, I want you to see different sides of me as a person. Just get more comfortable being around.

Naveh Eldar  22:48  
You have your hands and a lot of stuff friend and and a lot of really, really cool stuff. So one of them, I'm going to go back to something you said earlier, you were talking about how you were at the club with your friends. They were kind of taking you in that scene and you were there and you just felt like nobody else right? And now there is a branding of not like the other kids do.

Jermaine Greaves  23:15  
So not like the other kids started in 2015. And at the time, I was actually raising money to get a wheelchair. So I got some friends together and I said let's make a video of my actual real life. Let's show these people what I actually do, let's show them maybe in a broken down wheelchair. I'm like doing everything I'm doing and pushing myself and doing what I got to do to survive and showing them my everyday life how I get out of bed how I just maneuver throughout the day. And the video went viral. It was featured on Kayla Annie's Instagram and, and a lot. BuzzFeed picked up the story and the rest was history and the brand has been moving ever since. For me starting not like the other kids came out of feeling like I was unheard for a long time and I did an interview with my friend Dave noodles and he took a line from the interview and said we should start a brand. And that's all he did. Um, and since that time, it has done so many things for me. I've helped someone with the actual disability pay for their medical bills. I've helped with Puerto Rican fundraising. I've helped someone go on a trip of their lifetime I've helped other disabled people see themselves i've i've done different schools about brand and what it means to me. Being able to expand myself outside of my comfort zone has been the best part of my brand. For me, I just I like that I'm able to do different things. And it still makes sense. And it's still for me because not everybody is not everybody can brand as well as I can

Naveh Eldar  25:00  
I think right? And so what all do you sell,

Jermaine Greaves  25:05  
I sell hat, t shirt, pants, I have everything. You name, I have it.

Naveh Eldar  25:14  
So in a video for not like the other kids, it's it's a video when you're getting the wheelchair. So it started as a fundraiser, and you got an electric wheelchair. And I mean, like, it was amazing how many people supported it, like you said, there were celebrities that were supporting it, it really went that that movement really launched. But in the video, you said, it made you feel good, because sometimes you feel like you don't exist, and you encouraged other people to let individuals know that they exist. And you explained it, and you meant that they were loved. Right? Like he was like, I know I exist, like, technically. So talk talk a little bit about that talk about, you know, times that you haven't felt seen and and things that we can do to be better at that.

Jermaine Greaves  26:04  
I think I think for, for for someone like me, who's black and disabled, and stable period, we don't get an opportunity to feel we're belong anywhere. We feel like we have to familiarize ourselves to fit in a space. It's not necessarily that we belong. And the reason I said that is because all diamond spaces, people can sometimes make me feel invisible. This made me realize that people don't know how to approach me. And we have to work on that. As a society. And again, what I think it comes down to is educating people about what disability actually is, it's a burden, it's actually a gift. And I can say they're my disability and give them a superpower and something that has afforded me so much opportunity. And someone like me, I've actually created my own opportunity because no one was giving me a chance in the first place. So so so that, that tells us shows me how much of a business mind I have, how quick I am on the pulse of things, and how cutting edge I am as a person.

Naveh Eldar  27:25  
And so now let's get into I know you're like not very when are we going to get to it, but I wanted to get to it in my in my own time. Jermaine, so black disabled Lives Matters. So it's a phrase that's been out there, right? It was seen, like different places. But you have taken it, you owned it you started, like organized it, so to speak. So tell us about why did you do that? And and and Where's it at right now? Okay, so

Jermaine Greaves  27:54  
for me, why did I start black to say, well, lives matter? Two reasons. I went to a protest line in June of 2020. And I was in the protest line. And in that moment, I was like, no matter where I'm at, it's like, I gotta claw my way to the front, or like, we will have able bodied people that are just unaware that people with disabilities are at these protests. And it just harken back to what I was saying earlier, feeling invisible and feeling like all these different spaces. People don't acknowledge that I'm here. And that is the challenge that I continue to have. But I think it's not just showing up. But I believe what is most important, is making space for us and allow us to be ourselves. You may not fully understand the experience, but learn about it. And that's where black disabled Lives Matter started from but also, my mother had COVID. And my sister had literally passed away last year. So so that was the reason I started it because it was just a lot to deal with. And 2020 was not fair for no one. Everyone got a bit of something in 20. Oh, just hard. And also at that time, I was also unemployed. So, you know, that's a lot of isms and negatives at the time, as you can tell. But obviously I've climbed out of that.

Naveh Eldar  29:27  
Which seems to be your gift, right? It's like a lot of times it's those moments when you're being challenged as you seem to come up with something new and something fantastic. So what are some of the things that you have done, what are some of the things you have organized?

Jermaine Greaves  29:40  
So I've organized to actions in New York City in Brooklyn in September and October. I've worked with Eric Adams, one of the borough presidents out here in their office. I've done something with my college and the disability department in the college. I've done some things that I've done a couple of articles about why I started this movement and why this movement is all important. Some podcast, some interviews, you name it, I've done it. I've done to just kind of get people to understand like, why this is so important to me.

Naveh Eldar  30:23  
Why separate disabled from the regular and not saying you're separated, but why make a subgroup within Black Lives Matters? Okay, for the disability community,

Jermaine Greaves  30:34  
I can totally answer that. You're McLean because of Walter Wilson Reed, because of Eric Garner. Um, and because of Sandra Bland, and because of Tamir Rice, those are disabled what is although they never really talked about it, and Freddie Gray, they're disabled, but they're also black and 50% of those that are been killed by the cops are black and disabled, and has to be talked about because we're under attack as a community. And that's never really talked about and, and that's really why I had to make a subgroup not because I wanted to separate myself from Black Lives Matter. But because it was important to highlight the inequity that's more like me is still facing today. And those reforms in those domain also, we don't really talk about black disabled history. Harriet Tubman was disabled, Brad Lomax was disabled, Muhammad Ali was also disabled well, so if we're going to really give black disabled Lives Matter, it's things we got to talk about the whole range of thing.

Naveh Eldar  31:47  
Right? Yeah, the very first post that you had under the black disabled lives matter was the fact that the estimates are that 30 to 50%, of all individuals killed by law enforcement have a disability, right of some kind. Yeah. And so I've also heard you talk about how the inequities with COVID in the disability community. So let's talk a little bit about that.

Jermaine Greaves  32:19  
We have this issue. And on social media, there have been hashtag called high risk California, and high risk New Yorkers, and there have been stories of people with disabilities not being on the list for a vaccine. And that's really the reason I wanted to talk about it. Because it's something that has to be discussed more. And you have to bring us in this conversation of why we're not the priority when we're already disable it. Me, society has basically shown people with disabilities that we are less than in so many ways, and we still have to deal with feeling less than as we get older. And that's something I'm tired of.

Naveh Eldar  33:06  
Right. And I'll take it a step further. So here in Tennessee, was one of the states that was sued, and lost, they had to change their policy. So when COVID first broke out bad they were they were trying to figure out, what are we going to do if our hospitals get overran, right, and they had policies in place. They said, if an individual has a disability, they go to the bottom of the list of services that will provide so if there's 10 events, and we have 20 people that need event, if you have a disability, you're not getting event, right. And so we were sued, and we lost and they had to change, like some of those policies. But Tennessee wasn't the only state that had that. So, you know, sometimes people look at things and they believe that that people are making them up or people are exaggerating, but laws and policies are out there to clearly have discriminated against a disability. That's true.

Jermaine Greaves  34:05  
That is definitely true. First off, for someone like me, who is who hasn't been in the system for so long. I've seen all kinds of thing I've seen, I've seen like, as you probably are aware, I had to find ways recently to pay my rent. Um, because I have been trying to get a rental subsidy for three years that I've never gotten. And you got to go through all these different organizations and agencies and policy. You know, and everybody else that was disabled knows, we go through like five people to get what we want. And even when you go through the five people, you're still not getting exactly what you want. Me the frustration I have with the system of disability is that it is never clear. We're supposed to get it how we're supposed to get it. And we have to scream at the top of our lungs to get it. Right. I'm tired of that. And it's even worse for those that are black and disabled people have dragged their feet when it comes to some of my needs. And I know that other people feel just like me, but I'm just very bold about it. I'm tired of feeling like I don't exist. And that's why I have to do things like this to show that I've been here. And you're not going to erase me, like you've done other people in history, I refuse to be a raise, I will not be a raise, you're not just going to throw me under the bus and tell me this is it? This is what I deserve. I want more than that I deserve to me, I deserve what I asked for, not what you think I did. And I think that's a big thing for me. Don't treat me like I'm just someone with a disability. I'm much more than that.

Naveh Eldar  35:56  
So tell us Who who are you today, what what's going on with Jermaine? Today?

Jermaine Greaves  36:02  
I am becoming, I am beginning to see the company. And I like it. I'm beginning to understand like, I'm here to use his voice to change people's mind and hearts not just about disability, but society as a whole. Now they look at someone like me every day, and I'm here every day. Just to be myself. As as long as I show up being my best self in everything that I do, from school, to my business, to everything else that I do outside of that I'm also a professional actor. I've done it. I did a commercial recently in February, that was on the Superbowl. So that happened, um, I'm just really proud of the different talents and skills that I have, and how it's been able to make me money. As well open the door for me to have conversation about stuff. That thing things that people don't have conversations about usually. Right?

Naveh Eldar  37:13  
And so where Where do you see yourself in five years now you're still you're still very much a young man. So. So where will you be in five years from now?

Jermaine Greaves  37:21  
I don't know, oh, I would say a lot further, probably a more established name. In my gift. I'm definitely a couple businesses under my belt, the more business idea. And, you know, just expanding where I see myself. You know, I realized that I have something and I know how to use that something to get my point across.

Naveh Eldar  37:53  
And so tell us a little bit about your daily life right now, too. I would like you talked about that you made this video of what you do when you get up and how you go to school and all these things. So tell us what's going on with you like, what is your day to day like right now.

Jermaine Greaves  38:06  
I'm on zoom with school and I work a job and I'm on zoom with that. And I work my personal brand. So my you know if it's overlapping for me during this time, because there's so much going on at once and still showing up for myself every day.

Naveh Eldar  38:26  
It's I always end with a just a couple like light fun questions. But before we get to that, what would be like your grand message, your elevator speech, so to speak to the non disability community on how to respect and treat the disability community?

Jermaine Greaves  38:44  
Oh, that's a great question. I like that question a lot. Um, see us as human beings. Don't see us as wheelchair users don't see us as people with a disability. Don't even label US based on disability. Just guess who we are. We are people who have come to have to use adaptive devices to get around for our own accessible needs. But that is not all we are. We are much more than that. And I want people to respect us as human beings and also to say that people often times up to me and asked me if I need help. Oh, I don't know if I like that as much as I used to. I would like if someone just walked up to me and get to know that would be nice. I say I think that is already singling me out if somebody who was different. I think I think you have to allow us to be yourselves. And if you don't understand something or you don't get it, please ask us a question but don't be like insensitive and wrote about it or just unsure if you don't know we are there to educate you and tell you how to treat us. Yeah.

Naveh Eldar  40:11  
Excellent message. And and I just want to echo for my listeners that if there are people here who have listened to several of my episodes, many of my guests have talked about how, you know, don't treat them like they're helpless, kind of like, just walk up to me and ask me if I need help. Like, you know, I'm capable. And I'll let you know if I need help. Exactly. Yeah.

Yeah, that's a common thing I hear. Alright, so my fun questions. So you're busy you are. I mean, you have like this product line. Not like the other kids you organized. And the founder of black disabled Lives Matters. You're a student. You're working making commercials doing all kinds of stuff. So what in the world do you do for fun? Just what do you do to relax?

Jermaine Greaves  41:03  
I sleep when I'm not busy being busy, you know, I sleep fine. I like to travel vacation. A lot. Okay, you know, acting money is pretty nice.

Naveh Eldar  41:22  
Yeah, where Where's your favorite vacation spa,

Jermaine Greaves  41:26  
I like Miami. I like go to a foreign country right now is very tempted to but I said Nah. Right. I'm just staying in the 50. States, Miami. I like Arizona. I like warm climates. So I am leaning towards eventually moving to a warmer climate because it's just cold. And I don't know if I like it as much as I used to. I'm just getting older. I feel like I do want to transition out of New York. It's just a question of when. Because my career is happening here. So many things happening here for me, but I am deciding like, how am I going to move out of New York eventually? At some point, you know, because my brain is beginning to expand. And eventually I see myself kind of going global. It's definitely looking like that.

Naveh Eldar  42:16  
Last question is you enjoy acting? What kind of acting do you like? Do you like television, movies theater? What? What is your face, I'm

Jermaine Greaves  42:26  
studying theater, but I haven't dipped my toes into some TV stuff. And I like both. But give me more because you don't have to, like, learn your lines correctly. And you can do if you need to. thing I ever did was that doordash commercial, which came out in February of this year. Um, you know, that was big, you know, it was a big deal. I was like, What is this commercial, all I thought was Sesame Street. I was like, big commercial. No, but I think I can do theater and acting because that's what I've been trained to do. That's what I am learning right now in school anyways. So I can do both if I have to. But I prefer TV because you can get your lines and you don't have to learn lines and be read all the time. with actual professional theater, they want you to be ready and show up knowing your material so that when you hit the stage, you're just ready. And I find that with theater, you can't have anything else to think about. You have to be the character. At least, that was acting in general, like you have to be the character for a period of time. You don't have this luxury of like, disappearing from your character. You can still be yourself but like as an actor, you have to like show in character, I guess almost in that person's shoes.

Naveh Eldar  44:04  
Very nice. Well, good luck to you and everything. I mean, it's very important to work the activism work that you're doing, right. You're more than an advocate. You're an activist. And so I really commend you on that wish you Thank you. Because if you know me, if everybody out here who knows me, I always say there are not enough advocates and activists in the world there just aren't or we wouldn't be or we wouldn't be where we are right now. And thank you so much for coming on and sharing with

find links to different content on Jermaine in episode description. The month of April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. And in my next episode, I speak to Nicole Morin, founder and executive director for voices of change 2018, which is a nonprofit organization in Ohio. Advocates for children with disabilities who have been sexually abused. I hope you tune in to hear her speak about this important subject matter. I'll see you then.

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