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When Black Deaf/Disabled Advocates Collaborate: The Harriet Tubman Collective

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On Wednesday, the Harriet Tubman Collective released its statement regarding the Movement for Black Lives’ policy platform.  The Movement for Black Lives, also known as M4BL, launched its policy initiative August 1st, 2016, which highlights the disparities of Black Americans and provides a blueprint to stop the violence and oppression that Black people experience through 6 policy demands.

Though the platform received a lot of praise surrounding its efforts, there was a significant aspect missing:  the inclusion of the Black deaf/disabled experience, and how racism and ableism intersected for those who held membership within both marginalized identities.  This oversight was not lost on Black deaf/disabled advocates like myself; it was yet another example of Black liberation entities failing to understand how Blackness and disability connect, and the stark realities of being Black and deaf/disabled in America.

In response to M4BL, close to 20 Black deaf and disabled advocates came together to address the erasure and to declare that this can no longer continue.  You cannot select WHICH Black experience to protect and uphold in your advocacy/social justice calls – EVERY Black experience deserves to be recognized and fully included within your efforts.  To do so otherwise is fruitless – your work will be in vain, and sorely incomplete.  

14199321_1604795866484518_628289447557068698_nI want everyone to read the full statement that the Harriet Tubman Collective issued, and to share and support what we have to proclaim.  And importantly, go beyond that by extinguishing the ableism/audism that exists within social justice circles and platforms, and include our voices and experiences in such works.  

The official statement can be found on the Harriet Tubman Collective’s Tumblr page:  http://harriettubmancollective.tumblr.com/post/150072319030/htcvision4blacklives

You can follow the Harriet Tubman Collective on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HTCollective/) & Twitter (@HTCSolidarity).  

The statement can also been read & shared via Medium and Huffington Post.

(Featured headlining images:  Courtesy of Pixabay & the Harriet Tubman Collective.)

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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