PoC with Disabilities

  1. #BlackDisabledGirlMagic Series: Heather Watkins, Disabled Writer, Mom, & Community Leader

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    Image of Heather Watkins, light-skinned Black woman who is standing in front of a off-white colored door. Heather is smiling directly to the camera, and is wearing a black-and-white multi-striped top with black pants. Heather has her hands placed on her hips, which are in a relaxed pose.

    As we continue with the #BlackDisabledGirlMagic series, we have seen the various perspectives about the lives Black disabled women live and our worth shared in our own words. If you have noticed, I have asked each woman the same questions; this was purposeful. Though we all share the same identities of being Black, disabled, and women, we exist and interact in this world from different lens. Those differences are influenced by our upbringings, disabilities, ages, geographical location, educational and professional backgrounds, and so forth. Black disabled women are not a monolith, and that is what I wanted to highlight during Women’s History Month. We may encounter similar battles, but our views on life, our bodies, and survival are greatly individualized, as it is for everyone else.

    Heather Watkins is a blogger, disabled mother, community leader, and dear friend that reside in Boston, Massachusetts. Heather has become an older sister to me and was one of the first Black disabled advocates I befriended. Heather’s voice in the community is important because of her life experiences and ability to see people beyond the surface.

    I am honored to share Heather’s words and life outlooks with you all:

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  1. The Woodland Hills High School-to-Prison Pipeline

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    Image of a group of protestors outside of a school building holding signs to show solidarity to the injustice committed to a disabled student.

    The intersection of race and disability is often ignored when we discuss the injustices that disadvantage disabled students of color within our schools.  This oversight can mean grave consequences to students who live within these margins.  The school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately impacts disabled students of color (especially Black disabled students), yet very few are addressing what occurs in our schools; a recent incident in Pittsburgh caught my attention as being yet another example of how we are failing to advocate for and protect Black disabled students.  

    On Twitter, disability rights advocate Dustin Gibson shared details about a Black disabled student at Woodland Hills High being victimized and dehumanized by his principal.  Dustin is a revolutionary in training in Pittsburgh that has centered his identity as a Black man with bipolar disorder in his work.  He builds with people impacted by systems both locally and nationally.  Organizing with the perspective that the people closest to the impact are closest to the solution, many of his efforts are grassroot.  

    I asked Dustin if he would tell the story of the Woodland Hills incident, the connections between racism and ableism, and why Black disabled lives matter.  Here are his words:  

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  1. Letters For Jerika: Showing Up for Jerika Bolen

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    Over the past month, I have been following the story of Jerika Bolen, a young disabled teen who has made the decision to end her life due to living in incredible pain from her disability.  Jerika’s story has lit a fiery discussion within the community about assisted suicide, and the choice she has undertaken about her life.  

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  1. #GetWokeADA26: Disabled People of Color Speak Out, Part 1

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    White background with black text that reads: #GetWokeADA26 Disabled People of Color Speak Out, Part One. Vilissa Thompson and Alice Wong. On the left-hand side is an image of a Black Wonder Woman character in a wheelchair. She has rainbow wristbands and a golden lasso by her wheel. Image: Mike Mort @MikeeMort. On the lower right-hand side: Full report: RampYouVoice.com DisabilityVisibilityProject.com

    #GetWokeADA26:  Disabled People of Color Speak Out, Part One
    by Vilissa Thompson and Alice Wong

    Introduction

    On July 5th, we published the #GetWokeADA26 Call for Stories, asking for disabled people to share how the Americans with Disabilities Act has impacted their life experiences, gaps in the mandate that fail to support the unique challenges of disabled people or color, and the need for intersectionality in the disability community and how the lack of visibility affects this subgroup.  

    As disabled women of color, we believe the disability community needs to ”get woke” on race, racism, and intersectionality.  The work of getting “woke” can be hard, awkward, and uncomfortable, but this is something disabled people of color expect and deserve.

    For #GetWokeADA26, there were enormous responses to this project through the countless reblogging, sharing, and retweeting across the major social media platforms by disabled advocates, allies, and organizations.  In the two weeks that the Call was open, 50 individuals representing various people of color communities, disability types, ages, and sexual identities and orientations answered our request to share, and we were not disappointed by the rich, emotional, and direct responses to each question on our survey.  The data we were able to collect was extraordinary – there is so much that it is impossible to include everything in our summary, but we will capture the most poignantwerful and moving points of view shared.

    What follows is a description of the themes of the survey questions askedn overview of the survey questions, the representation makeup ofa description of our participantsrespondents, and a breakdown of the responses by specific topics.

    White background with black text that reads: #GetWokeADA26 “I am black. I am a woman. I am disabled. I am magic.” —Joi Meyer Brewer. On the left-hand side is an image of a Black Wonder Woman character in a wheelchair. She has rainbow wristbands and a golden lasso by her wheel. Image: Mike Mort @MikeeMort. On the lower right-hand side: Full report: RampYouVoice.com DisabilityVisibilityProject.com

     

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  1. #GetWokeADA26: Call for Stories by Disabled People of Color

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    It is with absolute delight that I announce the collaboration established between Ramp Your Voice! and Disability Visibility Project to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Now is the time to “get woke” about how the ADA as impacted disabled Americans, particularly those who are of color and disabled.  The plight of disabled Americans of color cannot, and will not, go unnoticed within disability advocacy – this partnership allows for our voices to be visible and ramped up when we reflect on how successful the Act has been for our rights and lives.  

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  1. #WeArePulse: Members of the Disabled PoC LGBTQ+ Community Speak Out

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    This week’s post will be to honor the 49 lives that were taken too soon in the Pulse shooting that happened in Orlando last weekend.  The act was senseless and filled of hate, and another example of how pivotal it is for us as a nation to take a firm stand on gun control in order to stymie the all too frequent occurrences like this we see too much of.

    I wanted to cover this moment, since so many within the disability community, particularly those who are of color and LGBTQ+, were deeply affected by what took place.  I asked those who were of color, disabled, and LGBTQ+ to share their thoughts with me, and my request was fulfilled by several who were willing to give us a glimpse into why they are Pulse.  

    Without further ado…

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  1. #DisabilityTooWhite: Making the “Good Trouble” in Advocacy

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    DisabilityTooWhite

    By now, many of you may have heard of the hashtag #DisabilityTooWhite.  It was created last Wednesday on Twitter impromptu by me, and has gained a lot of support, resistance, and interest from those within and outside of the disability community.  I have been interviewed by many pertaining to the hashtag, and felt that it was very much appropriate to discuss it on my blog, and to be very candid on how I felt about what has transpired in the past week.

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  1. White Privilege & Inspiration Porn

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    Inspiration Porn

    Over the weekend, I noticed a lot of chatter on Facebook surrounding the story of Anaya Ellick, a 7 years old girl from Virginia who won a national penmanship contest.  Anaya is an African American girl who is a congenital amputee.  The contest she entered into and won was the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Manuscript Penmanship.  Participants of the contest must be a student with a disability, and a team of occupational therapists judge the entries and award a winner.  Anaya beat out 50 other participants to receive this honor, and in the video below, you can watch Anaya accept the recognition, and hear from her mother and school administrators about her penmanship.

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  1. #Unbothered: Why The Overwhelmingly Whiteness Within Disability Advocacy Won’t Silence This Black Cripple

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    Unbothered image

    Last week, I participated in a Facebook chat about the lack of racial diversity within disability rights & advocacy organizations, from the founders to Board members.  Some folks were surprised that many of these entities, especially the nationally known ones, failed to have at least 50% people of color representation.

    You know who was not surprised at the lack of racial diversity uncovered?  *Raises both hands*

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  1. “Wilhemina’s War:” Reaction to the PBS Documentary Depicting the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Rural SC

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    AIDS and HIV in cube

    Last Monday, PBS debuted the documentary “Wilhemina’s War,” a film that showcased the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS in lowcountry South Carolina.  Wilhemina Dixon is the caregiver of two family members living with HIV – her daughter Toni and granddaughter Dayshal.  The film revealed the struggles of accessing proper health care in the Palmetto state, due in part to the lack of funding and political supports that disadvantages and compromises the health statuses of those living with HIV/AIDS, particularly those in rural parts of the state.  

    Being someone who grew up during the 1990s when HIV/AIDS was widely discussed, and having interned at a non-profit organization that serves individuals living with HIV/AIDS, this was a film that instantly grabbed my attention, and I knew that I had to watch.  What took place over the 55:31 minutes the documentary aired unleashed a plethora of emotions within me – shock, anger, sadness, and pride.  I had never watched something so powerful and stark before in a very long time; I knew that this was a film that I had to share on the blog, and why it is dire to understand the healthcare plight of HIV/AIDS in South Carolina.  

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