Ramp It Up! – The Voices of Self-Advocates & Allies

  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. Disability Advocates, Share Your 2016 Resolutions & Goals!

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    A new year brings us great hope, determination, and excitement of what we believe we can accomplish over the next 12 months.  I know that this is especially true for disabled advocates like myself, who are relentlessly focused on making our lives and the lives of the largest minority group in America and globally better than it was the previous year.

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  1. ADA Generation: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Part 1)

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    It was 25 years ago today that one of the most influential, life-changing disability policies was signed into law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  For those who were born during the 80s and 90s, disabled Millennials also known as ADA Generation, it is hard to phantom living in a world without this mandate that guarantees our rights to equal access to education, healthcare, transportation; as well as necessary accommodations and accessibility in utilizing services and resources in our communities.

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  1. Young, Black, & Living with MS: Antionette’s Story

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    Antionette is a dear friend of mine from college; we met when I took Model UN my last semester in undergrad, and she was one of the “higher ups” within Winthrop’s Model UN.  She and I were mutual friends with one of my Sorority sisters, and we forged a quick friendship of our own.  Antionette affectionately refers to me as “Mama V” since I’m a couple of years older than her, and our friendship has grown beyond our Model UN years.

    Antionette graduated from Winthrop with her B.A. in Political Science in 2010, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in International Business.  She is 27 years old, lives in Charleston, SC, and works for the Department of State.  Antionette is the typical Millennial, in that she has many hobbies and interests that keeps her busy – she is a Mary Kay consultant, a martial artist (she has a Black belt in Karate and plans to her further her martial arts training), and likes to listen to as well as create music with her brother.  As you can see, she is definitely a go-getter, and is one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet on this side of the Mississippi River.

    Earlier this year, I learned that Antionette has been quietly fighting a battle of her own, one she decided to share on the one year anniversary of her diagnosis.  Antionette has MS, or Multiple Sclerosis; when I read the testimony about her journey, I was truly amazed.  I had been in light contact with Antionette over the past year, and I did not have a clue that anything was amiss with her or her health.  Antionette shared that she had remained quiet about her journey as she was trying to understand this new normal in her life.  I asked Antionette if I could interview her for the blog, and she graciously gave me the honor to share her story with my readers and supporters.

    Without further ado… HERstory:

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  1. Seeking Disabled Women of Color Advocates – Your Voices Are Needed!

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    A major goal established for Ramp Your Voice! in 2015 is getting the voices of disabled women, especially women of color, out to the mainstream.  Disabled women of color are the driving force as to why I created Ramp Your Voice! in the first place – the gross disparity of minority voices within the movement troubles me dearly, and it can no longer persist.  If other disability advocacy organizations are neglecting to diversify their outreach efforts to be more inclusive, then why can’t we, disabled people of color, carve out our own niches and refuse to sit around waiting to be discovered?

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  1. Millennial Disabled Woman Ramps Her Voice: Lauren

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    RYV Interview Series Graphic - Lauren

    Our final interview for the millennial disabled woman series comes from a close friend of mine, Lauren.  I met Lauren on social media two years ago, and I have been amazed at how much we have in common.  Lauren has a very positive, outgoing personality that is infectious and appreciated on those days that you need a Sisterfriend.  Lauren’s take on being disabled, female, and of color was one that I had to have for this special series, and I am elated that she took the time to share her story with my readers.

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  1. Millennial Disabled Woman Ramps Her Voice: Whitney

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    RYV Interview Series Graphic - Whitney

    This week, we have another millennial disabled woman ramping her voice about living with a disability, and how she views herself and her identities.  Whitney is a late-20something I was connected with by a former high school classmate.  Whitney strikes me as a true woman on-the-go, and the fact that she is a helping professional like myself definitely allowed us to connect on that level.  Whitney was gracious enough to give some of her time to be interviewed for the series, and I am thankful for her telling her story to the RYV! readers.

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  1. Millennial Disabled Woman Ramps Her Voice: Bree

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    RYV Interview Series Graphic - Bree 2

    To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Ramp Your Voice! this month, I decided to reach out to the millennial disabled women I know, and ask them to share their disABILITY story.  The responses I received were amazing; everyone was excited about sharing their empowering story for the special series, and I was elated to have their participation.

    For the first installment of the “Millennial Woman Ramps Her Voice” series, I interviewed Bree, a fellow Millennial disabled woman of color I follow on social media.  Bree is one of the few disabled women of color I have gotten to know through social media, and I am so thankful that she gave a bit of her time for the series.

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  1. African Americans Living with Alzheimer’s Disease: B. Smith Shares Her Plight

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    Last week, we learned that former model and restaurateur B. Smith has been living with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Smith, dubbed the “black Martha Stewart” due to her career paths as a designer, author, and TV host, shared her story about remaining steadfast in fighting the disease, and having the support of her husband and business partner.

    Photograph of B. SmithHearing B. Smith’s candidness about the uphill battle of living with Alzheimer’s was empowering, especially since African Americans typically do not share their stories about Alzheimer’s.  Being an advocate and putting a face on what Alzheimer’s “looks like” in our community is a powerful testimony for and from Smith; her story validates the experiences of those living with Alzheimer’s, and the caregivers and families who care for their loved ones each and every day.

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  1. Petitioning for a Disabled American Girl Doll to be Created

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    Melissa Shang with American Girl Doll 1A 10-year-old girl, and her older sister, started a petition in December to urge the American Girl company to create a disabled American Girl doll.  Melissa Shang is a young advocate who has Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a form of muscular dystrophy.  Shang, like a lot of young girls her age and those before her, love to play with American Girl dolls.  Melissa noticed one thing in particular about her favorite doll line – there were no dolls available within the brand that “looked” like her.

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