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Google celebrated queer Korean American disability justice activist Stacey Park Milbern with a special Google Doodle on Thursday.
Born with congenital muscular dystrophy in Seoul on May 19, 1987, Milbern was an active leader who advocated for a more inclusive disability justice movement, according to Google. Milbern focused on giving people of color and transgender and gender-expansive individuals a seat at the table.
Google Doodle paid homage to Milbern on her birthday, which was also the day she passed away in 2020. The colorful doodle was created by illustrator Art Twink in collaboration with Milbern’s family members and her close friend and business partner, Andraéa LaVant.
“Stacey wasn’t just about centering disability, but the intersectional experiences of disabled people of color, queer and gender-nonconforming people, and indigenous people of color,” LaVant said.
Growing up in a conservative, military family in North Carolina proved to be a challenge for Milbern after she began to identify as queer. In an interview with The Atlantic in 2017, Milbern said she feared that her evangelical Christian parents would not respond well to her coming out.
Writing under the alias Crip Chick, Milbern used her blog as an escape since she did not want to strain her ties with her family, who she relied on to help her eat, sleep and go to the bathroom at the time.
“Stacey started in disability-related work when she was very young in the state of North Carolina,” LaVant told Google. “She actually worked to pass a law to ensure that disability history is taught in schools.”
Milbern eventually moved to San Francisco, a hub for disabilities activism, in 2011. She became an activist and joined the disabilities justice movement while working at a bank.
She eventually climbed up the ranks. In 2014, then-President Barack Obama appointed her to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
Milbern also established the activist house Disability Justice Culture Club (DJCC) with her friends in an effort to “create both an affordable haven for low-income Disabled BIPOC in a rapidly-gentrifying Bay Area and a radically accessible space in the East Bay for community building and movement work.”
During the rise of COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., DJCC provided Oakland residents with kits that contained supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer.
Milbern died on her 33rd birthday two years ago at a hospital in Stanford, California, after suffering from a complication due to a kidney cancer surgery.
“When people see this Doodle, I hope that in seeing Stacey, people will see themselves embracing who they are in whatever communities that they’re a part of,” LaVant said.
“When people see this Doodle, I really hope they think about how we are a whole person made up of all these identities,” Art Twink said. “Her Korean American identity, queer identity, her disabled identity, they cannot be separated. And by making things as accessible as possible to everybody, we live in a way that honors Stacey.”
Featured Image via GoogleDoodles