I know Carrie through our mutual friend, Corbett O”Toole. The details of the introduction are hazy…I know it was on that universal connector, facebook. It was probably something to do with Carrie’s adopting her daughter (that is a beautiful story – you can read it on her blog, Adopting Delilah). But however it was, I know that I’m delighted to know her and excited for you to meet her as well.
Getting to Know You
Your name: Carrie Griffin Basas
What’s your connection with disability?
I’m recruiting! Well, seriously, I have Larsen’s Syndrome, a rare congenital joint disorder, and I have been described by loving genetics counselors as a “random genetic mutation.” I recently adopted a little girl from an orphanage in Ukraine who has a similar disability. We’re building the disability family locally and globally.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Neither. Star Search.
If you could live in any other country for 2 years, where would you go?
Thailand for the food.
What dish would your bring to our community picnic potluck?
Now That We’ve Been Introduced…
What do you do:
This question is tougher than it should be. I’ve spent the past six years in law teaching, where I have focused on disability rights law, workers’ rights, criminal law, and social justice. Becoming a parent took me out of the country for two months in late 2012 and has been consuming, so I’ve found out the limitations of being a law professor as a disabled parent with a disabled kid. I took off this year from teaching (unpaid—yippee!) when there was no great parental leave policy in place and am searching for what comes next.
How did you come to doing what you do? How has your career trajectory flowed?
I went to law school relatively pissed off about the position of people with disabilities in society. Shocker: I saw few people like me there, at least on the disability issue—and even fewer in my eventual path to being a law professor. I thought being a lawyer would be an effective tool for change, but the Law itself, as a profession, is hard on people with disabilities—just as it on anyone who is “different.”
After graduating and having a miserable clerkship experience, I got a Hearne Award from AAPD and decided to use it to start a disability nonprofit focused on the employment of emerging professionals. Eventually, I realized that I stunk at fundraising, and turned that idea into consulting work. At some point, a friend sent me a job posting for teaching online in an MBA program. I picked up a corporate social responsibility course (which, ironically, I am back to teaching again now that I’ve been away from law teaching).
Teaching was fun, but adjunct online work pays nothing. I eventually came to the idea of trying law teaching because it would pay me to write about things that I cared about and interact with interesting students. My law teaching career took me from State College to Tulsa, Chapel Hill to Cleveland, until I eventually decided that at the age of 35, I could decide where I wanted to live rather than having a random law school decide for me. I moved to Seattle last summer. A few months later, my husband Fred and I were in Ukraine meeting our daughter.
I don’t miss the dysfunction of the law school environment, but I miss certain colleagues and students—and the opportunity to recruit people to my radical crip beliefs. Hee hee.
I currently teach online for an MBA program in Maine, but that’s just a temporary distraction from the glue, cutting, theraputty, and sandboxes that come with a 4-year-old.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Rested. Paid. With time for footnote-free writing and creative outlets. Connected with work that makes me happy and supports my beliefs and the needs of my family. I’ve given up on fighting to make my profession a better place. It’s sad, but true—and probably the best for me personally.
Not to be morbid, but what do you want people to remember about you when you’ve gone?
That I wasn’t afraid to be myself and thought the process of getting there was worth the hiccups.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who are creative and passionate but often under-supported. Artists. Disability advocates. Community organizers. A sunny day in Seattle is fairly inspiring, too.
If you could say something to yourself in the past – that is, the you that was really struggling with something related to disability – what would you say?
I didn’t even know about disability identity and community until college. I wish that I would have found it earlier rather than hearing so many overcoming/inspiration messages from the outside world.
What do you like about your particular disability?
The parking, baby. Just ask my friends.
Any one thing that you wish people would *get* about disability?
I don’t want to be celebrated because of my disability. A charitable approach to disability upsets me greatly and no one likes me cranky.
What single piece of technology makes your life easier?
The Internet. Hey, it’s where I found my husband, dogs, and kid!
Where else can we find you online?
Fairly outdated, but subject to revival: