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Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw is an inspirational and truly intersectional memoir from global humanitarian and disability-justice advocate Eddie Ndopu—a queer, Black wheelchair user. Ndopu’s incredible story begins with his childhood being raised by a single mother fleeing Apartheid South Africa before rocketing through every boundary put in front of him—because of his disability, his ethnicity, and his sexuality—to eventually hold official positions at both the United Nations and the World Economic Forum.
Ndopu was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a rare degenerative motor-neuron disease, and was told that he wouldn’t live beyond age five. Now 30 years old and stronger than ever, he continues to celebrate each turn around the sun as an existential defiance of the odds. It’s not only the medical community he’s thwarted—it’s the educational one, too. Blessed with an exceptional mind and razor-sharp wit to match, Ndpou fought his way through the ableist school system of his youth to eventually become the first-ever disabled African to be given a full scholarship to Oxford University. But bias exists at even the highest echelons of power and prestige—sometimes, it’s even worse. Faced with inadequate caretakers and forced to raise the money for his own accommodations Ndopu was egregiously neglected at one of the top schools in the world and realized that he would have to tear down society’s pretension of accessibility—both physical and mental—and rebuild it from scratch.
Ndopu’s lifetime spent pushing against barriers leads him to more than a decade advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. In his memoir, Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw, Ndopu shares paradigm-shifting stories that expand the boundaries of identity and ability, proving to readers of every color, class, and ability that you can be both profoundly disabled and profoundly successful. Set between the World Economic Forum and years zooming through the halls of Oxford, Ndopu makes the surprising and heartbreaking discovery that even when one does everything to scale the mountain of success, exclusion, discrimination, and neglect often still lie in wait on the other side. And with beautiful, evocative prose, Ndopu invites readers—especially from marginalized communities—to break free of the confines of their character and demand that the world sees them in the way that they see themselves, to stop climbing mountains and start moving them instead.
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