Reading: #134: Emily Rapp Black (Reinventing The Way The World Thinks About Imperfect)

#134: Emily Rapp Black (Reinventing The Way The World Thinks About Imperfect)

June 11 2021

“I grew up with a disability. I had an artificial leg since age four. I didn’t realize it was anything. The goal was to pass and be as normal as possible. At puberty that screeched to a halt.” So begins CoveyClub founder, Lesley Jane Seymour’s fascinating conversation with Emily Rapp Black, author of the upcoming book, “Frida Kahlo and My Left Leg.” Black, whose previous memoir, “Sanctuary” is a brutally honest portrait of a mother struggling to balance the joy of motherhood with the tsunami of grief of losing her firstborn to Tay-Sachs disease — says her disability meant she was “always really open. I never had really any privacy. People were asking me rude questions in elevators since age four.” Black, who is now an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at UC-Riverside and at UCR School of Medicine intended to follow in her minister father’s footsteps by attending divinity school, says she was in Korea on a Fullbright when she “had a breakdown…I’d never thought about being a disabled woman.” Her new book was inspired by a visit to Frida Kahlo’s home La Casa Azul and the exhibit of the corsets and braces and artificial limbs Kahlo wore that she saw on display. “I had a huge body emotional reaction,” Black says. “I had a back brace and the leg…[Kahlo]’s such a pop culture icon. There are CVS socks with Frida Kahlo’s face on it. But what does it mean? No one remembers she was an amputee.”