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Seattle singer Mindie Lind on Cripp Culture and why she doesn’t need your help

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Inly singer, Mindie Lind, on her skateboard (Photo courtesy of Mindie Lind)

Mindie Lind is the singer of the Seattle band, Inly. Her eery piano and smoky voice have literally brought me to tears. And if you met Mindie, you’d notice one thing right away.

“I have no legs,” Mindie laughs. “I was born without legs. I also have a number of other physical things but I think that’s probably the main identifier. That’s my main point of innovation.”

As an artist with a disability, it’s been really important for Mindie to educate people on Cripp Culture, something she tries to incorporate into her music.

“The word cripp has a lot of culture in it, has a lot of history in it. It’s also a little edgier. It’s reassigning meaning, it’s taking back meaning of an old dirty word. I like the radical aspect of it.”

It’s one way people like Mindie are trying to highlight the culture brought into the world by the disabled community. In her music video for “Mississippi Misfit,” she takes on the topic of the how people react when they come out of the big bathroom and see her waiting. They’re either overly apologetic, they avert their eyes or they want to help her.

“Directly, the song is about that experience, about having no legs and going into the world and having all these people trying to help you and you’re like, ‘Actually, don’t do me any favors.’ All of you want to help me and I know that. But I’m ready to take care of myself.”

Mindie struggles with all the help that strangers want to give her. She knows they mean well, but she really wishes they’d think before asking.

“I have a whole system for getting in and out of my car, and it involves work but it’s all work that I’m set up to do. I get out of my car and I grab my wheelchair out of my car and I put it together and I get in my wheelchair and I grab my bag and I’m about to shut my door and someone’s like, ‘Do you need a hand?’ And it’s like, did you just see what I did? I just took care of it! Like, what do you want to help me with? Do you want to say hello? I feel like in a lot of ways, what people are really trying to say is, ‘That’s really neat!’ and ‘I haven’t experienced you before!’ And they need to tell me about it rather than thinking it to themselves or having this other response which is, ‘I want you to know that I’m here to help you if you need it.'”

Mindie is used to getting a lot of praise for doing everyday things.

“When I was a little girl, of course, I was in the marching band and I was doing ballet. All these news cameras are around me and they’re using the same words that they’re still using and I’m 30 years old.”

Words like:

“Super inspirational or overcoming obstacles or despite disability.”

Mindie’s tired of these words. And she wishes disability wasn’t only associated with things like access and assisting.

“It doesn’t really include all these other really wonderful things like sexuality and style and creativity and innovation and all these things that I think are really inherent to folks who identify as having a disability or are a part of Cripp Culture.”

Mindie is super warm and funny and confident. I asked her if her upbringing and parents had anything to do with that.

“Everyone thinks my family was awesome because they think I’m awesome, which I really appreciate. My family was not awesome, they were the worst. And I think that maybe that’s why I had to push forward. But I was one of 16 kids, I was an adopted person and it wasn’t a great scenario.”

She grew up in the church in Georgia, which is where she discovered her love for music. You can see her love for music this Saturday, November 22nd, when her band Inly plays at Seattle’s historic Blue Moon Tavern. And if you see her sing and think she’s amazing, tell her so. Just don’t tell her she’s super inspirational or overcoming obstacles.

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