Mental Health vs Mutual Aid: Competing Visions of Care in Black-authored Films in the 1970s
Keywords:black disability politics, disability media studies, mad studies, cinema studies, Black mad studies
This article considers two little-noted films from the early 1970s that took up a Black politics of "mental health." Both films intervened into racial-liberalist psychiatric and social scientific discourses of "Black pathologies" by drawing from Black radical and community-organizing models to envision how to care for people in distress outside of dominant psychiatric and psychological discourses and institutions. With shared production and institutional contexts yet differing articulations of what radical forms of care looked like both in practice, in narrative, and in mediation, these two films deepen our understanding of what form a Black disability politics of mental health took in this era. They also expand how disability studies as well as disability media studies frame the connections among anti-psychiatry and mad studies movements, Black radicalism and organizing, and cultural production.
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