Emerge Fellows - 2023

T.S. Banks

T. S. Banks (he/him) is a Black & QTDisabled, non-binary teaching artist, poet, and playwright from Madison, WI. He is the Founder of Loud ‘N UnChained Theater Co and LNU Publishing House, which is home to Black mad-Krip, neurodivergent, and chronically ill authors and teaching-artists. His work addresses visioning for Black Liberation, a critique of the medical system, radical care + access, madness, QT Mad-Krip Liberation, disability justice, & abolition. T's chapbooks "Call Me ill" , "Left" & "SPLIT" can all be found at LnuTheaterCo.com.

Mia Charnelle

*Joint project with Ebony Oldham: Ebony Oldham and Mia Charnelle's collaborative proposed summer project for the Emerge disability studies residency will consist of a digital zine tentatively titled "Notes on Fleshiness..." Combining text, images, self-portraiture, memoir, interview, poetry, and collage, the zine will stage moods, attitudes, textures, and postures of two black disabled fats in a world structured by the intricacies of antiblackness, antifatness, ableism, disposability, and the carceral state.

Mia Charnelle (they/them) is an artist from Northeast Portland, Oregon, and is currently based in Los Angeles. As a photographer and creative director, Mia’s work employs Black visual aesthetics and portraiture to critically explore blackness, disability, gender, sexuality, and fatness. Mia’s most recent art exhibition, entitled “Insecure,” centered on the struggles and nuances of grappling with PTSD and acceptance as a Black, disabled, nonbinary, queer, and fat person. Mia’s current photo series takes up a politic of adornment to examine how Black disabled people beautify their disability aids in order to capture Black disabled people who are often rendered illegible. When space and time allow, Mia enjoys a deep dive into the latest news in Black popular culture, cinematography, naptime, and sweet and tangy snacks.

Bowen Cho

Bowen is a neurodivergent, queer, and disabled scholar-activist with a background in quantitative research methods. Their current research investigates the reporting mechanisms used by universities to surveil a broad range of student behaviors under the lens of threat assessment and crisis intervention, purportedly to help students, but often used to remove and disappear those exhibiting signs of distress.

Bowen received their first undergraduate degree after a ten year journey marked by numerous leaves, withdrawals, and transfers that started at Reed College in Oregon, and included semesters at U Penn and Moscow University for the Humanities in Russia. They are currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in bioinformatics and computational biology.

Bowen is the co-founder and project leader of Neurodivergent-U, which ismdeveloping a novel college ranking system, inspired by the Campus Pride Index, built specifically for disabled and neurodivergent students. They started this project to bring attention to university policies that pathologize, exclude, and harm marginalized students who are fighting to exist in academic spaces.

thai lu

thai lu (they/them) is a transdisciplinary artist, writer, and community organizer centering their practice on the social, cultural, and physical effects of chronic illness. As a chronically ill, disabled, neurodivergent, and gender-divergent first generation American from a family of Vietnamese refugees, Thai works at the intersections of Western bio-politics, Southeast Asian diaspora, post-war intergenerational suffering, relational ecologies of interdependence, and the concept of metamorphosis. 

Through their personal work, Thai invites the consideration of disability in the context of oppressive social structures of power. Through their community work, Thai strives to aggressively augment this reality.

Allison Masangkay

Allison Masangkay (she/they) is a Filipinx entity—sick, disabled, trans, queer, femme, cultural worker, scholar, aswang, cyborg, and more. They currently reside in Duwamish territory (Seattle, WA) and previously lived in Jamestown S’Klallam land (Sequim, WA) and Lenni-Lenape land (northern New Jersey). Her current work includes prose writing, sound, and collage envisioning Filipinx/a/o and greater brown, Black, and Indigenous embodiment beyond white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and colonialism. This work highlights their experiences as an aswang (shape-shifting entity in Philippine folklore) and cyborg through the lenses of Philippine folklore, spirituality, and magic while engaging critical theories which unsettle colonial constructs of technology, race, gender, disability, sexuality, humanity, animality, and monstrosity.

Allison’s public DJ practice between 2015-2021 among other QTBIPOC and youth (under 25 years old) still informs ongoing community relationships and learning. Based on research from her undergraduate anthropology thesis in 2018, she co-founded an arts and culture organization, Kapatid Kollective, with four other Filipinx femmes. They facilitated intergenerational events—featuring local, multiply-marginalized Filipinx artists and organizers in Duwamish territory (Seattle)—with educational workshops, facilitated discussions, performances, and small business vending.

Since 2021, Allison has worked with a team of other sick and disabled QTBIPOC at Epiphanies of Equity, a social equity consulting and advocacy organization that centers disability justice, anti-racism, and systemic change toward equity and justice. / allisonmasangkay.com 

Ebony Oldham 

*Joint project with Mia Charnelle: Ebony Oldham and Mia Charnelle's collaborative proposed summer project for the Emerge disability studies residency will consist of a digital zine tentatively titled "Notes on Fleshiness..." Combining text, images, self-portraiture, memoir, interview, poetry, and collage, the zine will stage moods, attitudes, textures, and postures of two black disabled fats in a world structured by the intricacies of antiblackness, antifatness, ableism, disposability, and the carceral state.

Ebony Oldham (they/them) is a longtime organizer and cultural curator from Northeast Portland, Oregon, currently based in Los Angeles. Ebony is the Co-Chair of the Black Feminism Initiative (BFI) and a doctoral student in the Department of Gender Studies at UCLA. Ebony’s work draws on Black feminist theory and critiques of what they refer to as “health-humanism,” theorizations of antiblackness, antifatness, technologies of gender, crip-of-color critique, and fat studies to examine the black fat, the fat black. Ebony’s current project examines notions of excess and metrics of size and volume to intervene in discourse on fatness, health, and abolition When space and time allow, Ebony enjoys organizing with the Fat Liberation Archive, iPhone photography, pattern-clashing, and watermelon supremacy!


Rise is a queer Black disabled genderfluid femmeboi from St. Louis, MO. They have been living on Potawatomi, Ojibwa, and Odawa territory (Chicago) for the past 16 years.

Rise is a visual artist, poet, full spectrum (birth/postpartum/grief & loss/abortion) birthworker, yoga teacher, meditation facilitator, gender affirming and trauma informed care and disability justice educator, access consultant an community care worker. 

Rise is deeply invested in disability justice, access, centering wellness for Black queer folk, trauma education, and rest. When not doing the most, they enjoy daydreaming, dancing, and hanging with their support pup, Jelly Ferocious.

Rise started Riotous Roots 1 year ago as a means to house their talents, passions and dreams for their communities in one place. You can learn more about them at www.riotousroots.com or @riotous_roots

Natasha Thomas

Natasha Thomas, PhD, MT-BC (They/She + any neo-pronouns offered with respect) is a Queer, Black, Disabled child of Caribbean immigrants from St. Vincent, an island that has historically been home to shipwreck and volcano, as well as the Kalinago people and descendants of the Trans Atlantic Slave trade, among others. Natasha holds a PhD in Expressive Therapies and teaches Music Therapy at IUPUI, on the land of the Miami people (Indianapolis, Indiana), where she lives with her spouse and four year old. Natasha is a member of the steering committee for the Black Music Therapy Network and co-host of the Black Creative Healing project. When not actively creating or playing with their child, you can find Natasha exploring ancestral concepts of creativity and healing (particularly within African spiritual cosmologies), cooking, gardening, or community building with kin or anyone else willing to join themme. She works with those who are ready to transform.

Isabella Vargas

Isabella Vargas is a multimedia artist who works at the intersection of media and activism. She works with experimental and nonfiction forms by combining captured footage and drawn animations to rewrite narratives about her intersectional communities. Vargas questions the marginalization of people and their relationship with disability, ethnic identity, queerness, and their ties to intergenerational trauma. In tandem with her art practice, Vargas is a disability activist and gleans her narratives from direct interaction with members of the communities for whom she is advocating, striving to give a platform to their voices. Her storytelling prioritizes community building and care when amplifying the voices of those traditionally silenced. 

Mx. Lou Weaver

Mx. Lou Weaver (she/her/hers) is a sick, neuroqueer femme, transgressive care laborer, settler & co-conspirator raised on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe Nation. She is currently based on traditional Lekwungen territory, meaning “place to smoke herring”, where she works as a program lead training sex workers as peer health educators in their communities. Her people come from Northern Europe. As an uninvited guest, she is invested in acting as a co-resistor against oppressive institutions and systems that continue to perpetuate harm. 

She holds an M.Ed in Adult Education from the University of Toronto, and her teaching philosophy prioritizes liberatory harm reduction, peer-led interventions, and encourages learners as the co-creators of knowledge. 

Her passions are guided by the intersection of sex worker liberation and disability justice organizing, and building movement organizing that centers relationality, sustainability, and amplifies the wisdom and healing of those with lived experience in the context of pandemic-times.

Zee Xaymaca

Zee Xaymaca is a Jamaican-born queer, disabled, multidisciplinary writer and non-profit organizer. They advocate across abolition, gender, racial, and disability justice movements for the rights of persons who engage in sex work. They are passionately engaged in the struggle for Black liberation from white supremacist structures, and the intersectional ripples of equity and justice its attainment will usher in.  Zee holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from SUNY Stony Brook (New York), and a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Bremen, (Bremen, Germany). They use this diverse educational background to reimagine the scope and operation of global political systems through Afro-futuristic speculative fiction, and poetry, as well as professional engagement with academia, non-profits, and political institutions. 

In their academic work, Zee has published an autoethnographic article entitled Sex Work as Resistance to Marginalization: Lessons from Black Feminist Theory, Disability Justice, and Black-led sex worker organizing, highlighting their experience as a Black migrant worker with experience in the adult industry and the resulting intersecting forms of oppression that positioning exposes one to. Crucially, their work examines the connective thread between reproductive justice, gender justice, and disability justice movements and what these movements teach us about thriving in structurally imposed precarity. 

Zee’s Emerge project melds poetry and academic writing to evoke the emotions that galvanize us to action. This emotive approach is underlain by rigorous analysis to facilitate a sense of agency through understanding. The project consists of two original pieces of live poetry accompanied by reading of a researched essay that elucidates the themes explored in the poems. This approach centers on the fact that before politics and the divergence of experience, all are susceptible to the sense of indignity, distress, and vulnerability that occurs when institutions fail us in the ways they routinely do disabled and otherwise marginalized persons. Zee’s work is directly informed by their formal and informal education and lived experience as a Black migrant person thriving with disability.