ACTION CALL: #DisabilitySolidarity — Fighting Trumpcare at the Intersections of Race and Disability (#14)
From eugenics to discrimination, ableism has been a permanent fixture in American politics and society. Add racism and classism to the mix and you get the perfect trifecta of white supremacist oppression. But even though people of color — particularly Black folks — are more likely to be poor, disabled, and targeted by state sanctioned violence, their struggles have been largely ignored within mainstream disability and social justice movements.
Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed and live in poverty. Nearly half of police killings involve people with mental and physical disabilities. Within our prison system, inmates are 3–4 times more likely to report having disabilities compared to non-incarcerated people. If you are disabled and Black or Brown, these statistics become even more grossly disproportionate. But when police kill a disabled person of color, their disability is too often erased by racial justice activists and their race is too often erased by disability activists. This double reduction is toxic. When we fail to see race and disability, we “dishonor” part of their humanity and fail to fully engage in the struggle against white supremacy.
Disability activists have long fought for greater inclusivity, empowerment, and liberation in their communities. But such activism has been predominantly white centered in platform and visibility. Disabled activists of color are now re-centering the conversation about disability justice around their lived experiences, demanding that the disability community recognize its own racism, and continuing to fight against ableism in the greater racial and social justice movement. To truly liberate disabled people, our disability justice work MUST be intersectional.
The current fight against Trumpcare is no exception.
The GOP agenda to defund Medicaid is currently the “greatest threat” against the disability community and (in particular) Black, Latinx, and Indigenous lives. When House Republicans voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Senate answered by drafting a healthcare reform bill that re-introduces the possibility of lifetime insurance caps and proposes nearly $834 billion cuts to Medicaid. This legislative disaster will leave approximately 15 million Americans at risk of losing their care and vulnerable to institutionalization. And when disabled people lose their healthcare, the impact is devastating. Millions of disabled Americans rely on Medicaid to live independently and receive medically necessary (but often cost prohibitive) care in their homes near family, friends, coworkers, and loved ones. Who makes up the bulk of people on Medicaid? The poor, elderly, children and adults with disabilities. By cutting off the lifeline to their communities, Republicans have essentially declared war against our most vulnerable and marginalized population. And because poverty, health disparities, the number of disabilities, and difficulty accessing care remain the highest among racial minorities, disabled people of color will be disproportionately impacted by the Republican health plan.
But disability activists refuse to quietly surrender to the Grand Old Party of Eugenics. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen law enforcement take inhumane and violent actions against people with disabilities. Demonstrators protesting against the GOP’s proposed Medicaid cuts have been dragged out of wheelchairs, arrested, and arbitrarily charged with everything from trespassing to “crowding and obstructing.” Disability rights and justice organizations (such as ADAPT) have been on the frontlines of resisting the latest assault against their community — and disabled activists of color are leading the charge.
Now, more than ever, we need to fight for disability justice. The health and freedom of millions of disabled Americans are under attack. Actual lives are at stake. Here’s how to join disability activists — especially those at the intersections — on the frontlines of social justice, health care, and most importantly, their fight for visibility and full inclusion within our communities.
Stand up and show up for disability rights by fighting for Healthcare Justice and Medicaid — a do or die fight for our community.
- Call your representatives: Find out if your state is one of the key battlegrounds needed to #StopTrumpcare. Call your representatives every day using these sample call scripts, or find your Senator’s phone numbers here and use our call script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent of Senator _____. I urge the Senator to reject any Medicaid caps and/or cuts. Any bill that reduces federal funding for Medicaid threatens vital health care and services to low-income, elderly, and disabled Americans. Medicaid also provides children with disabilities with necessary special education, therapeutic, and medical services at school and in their communities. Please vote against this proposed healthcare bill because all Americans deserve adequate and affordable health care.
- Write to your representatives: Host a letter writing party! Find your Senator’s contact information and a letter template here, then personalize it with how you or a loved one will be affected by Medicaid cuts. You can also contact your representative via social media: Find your Senators’ Twitter handles here. Use the sample tweet below to tag your Senators. #Medicaid pays for necessary #SpecialEd services that students w/disabilities need to succeed, #SaveMedicaid #NoCutsNoCaps @(Insert Senator’s Twitter handle)!
- Stay up to date on the fight against Trumpcare: Subscribe to ADAPT’s Medicaid news clippings here and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. Find your local ADAPT chapter, get connected with disability organizing, and participate in direct actions against Medicaid defunding. Prepare yourself with their “Toolkit to ADAPTandRESIST to SaveMedicaid.”
“There is little to no excuse for not being inclusive.” — Ola Ojewumi, disability activist
- There are many ways to support, amplify, advocate for disability justice individually, with friends, or at the community level. Read and take action with the following resources: 10 ways to make society more inclusive for people with disabilities and 26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets.
- When organizing demonstrations and events, make sure the spaces are accessible to nearby public transportation, ramps, interpreters, and any other necessary ADA accommodations. You can also live stream events and meetings on social media. Contact organizers and sponsors of every event you plan to attend to confirm accessibility. If there are limitations in accessibility and inclusion, get in touch with organizers and sponsors relentlessly and provide them with this article: “Your Social Justice Events Should Be Accessible. Period.”
Inclusion is disability justice with #DisabilitySolidarity.
- Read Achieving Liberation Through Disability Solidarity and scroll down to evaluate whether your activism is inclusive of disability solidarity. Read “Be the Change: Six Disabled Activists On Why the Resistance Must Be Accessible” and scroll down to “An Accessible Resistance Resource List” to find articles, social media feeds, and podcasts dedicated to intersectional accessibility.
- Watch this 10-minute video (CW/TW) from We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf & Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project by the National Council on Independent Living, which shares the narratives of five victims of police brutality. Use this companion educational toolkit to process the video, share and discuss with others, and use as a guide for building disability advocates’ capacity to address state violence affecting Black and Brown Disabled persons nationwide.
Support and empower those who are intersectionally marginalized, de-center white supremacist ableism, and center disabled people of color in activist spaces.
- Representation and interpretation matters. Learn about Deaf culture within Black culture with this compilation of resources. Read more about Black ASL, go deeper into the research and variations in Black ASL, and support the Black ASL Project with a purchase of their book, “The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL.” If you are or know of an intersectionally marginalized person that is considering becoming a professional sign language interpreter, check out the Registry for Interpreters of the Deaf site and sponsor a RID membership or scholarship through a local chapter.
- Follow Disability Visibility Project and join Disability Visibility Project on Facebook. DVP is an intersectional online community in partnership with StoryCorps amplifying voices and stories of disabled people. Follow the team’s work from #GetWokeADA26, a survey to highlight the voices of disabled people of color. Read to the end for their list of ways to support Black and Brown Disabled persons.
- Follow The National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities/Coalición Nacional para Latinxs con Discapacidades, an organization working intersectionally to assess the needs of Latinxs with disabilities or as caregivers to better provide resources, services and support. Join their mailing list, follow their blog, and on facebook and twitter.
- Follow and share works of intersectional disability activists. Here are a few we recommend:
Vilissa Thompson (founder of @RampYourVoice, writer, advocate, and creator of #DisabilityTooWhite): “When I look in the mirror, I see Black first, then a woman, and lastly disability… Being multiply and visibly marginalized has shaped me in ways that I did not realize until I became an advocate. The erasure and invisibility of Black disabled people, and Black disabled women specifically, led me to this work.”
Cyrée Jarelle Johnson (poet, essayist, and poetry editor at The Deaf Poets Society): As one reviewer wrote, “their black disabled femme genderqueer brilliant insights and poetics are crucially important to our collective survival. Unflinchingly committed to telling truth with lyrical precision and real talk, rooted deep in their black femme crip jersey soil.”
Lydia X. Z. Brown, (writer, policy leader, and advocate for multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing). They identify with many marginal identities/experiences including “autistic and multiply otherwise neurodivergent and disabled, queer, asexual-spectrum, genderqueer/non-binary and sometimes read as feminine, and transracially and transnationally adopted east asian person of color from China (into a white adoptive family).”
- The founder of Ramp Your Voice, Vilissa Thompson, is a seasoned self-empowerment and disability advocate. Through education and dialogue under the campaign #DisabilityTooWhite, RYV provides a platform for stories and contributions from those with disabilities and publishes tools for specific self-advocacy topics. They offer services including workshops, education, and consultation on specialty niches around disability and race. Support their work here.
- The National Black Disability Coalition has advocated and organized for Black and disabled people and their families since 1990. They offer resources and foster sustaining opportunities for the Black disabled community. They partner with organizations, academics and community leaders to advance education, inclusion, and policy change through the lenses of ableism and racism. NBDC offers a repository of educational resources and toolkits on their website, as well as self- empowerment projects such as the Divas With Disability Project for women of color worldwide with disabilities. Become a member and/or make a donation.
- Sins Invalid is a gender-variant performing arts project that centers artists of color with any form of visible or invisible disability, and from any resident location including streets, shelters, and institutions. They also support disabled activists with leadership opportunities, foster multidisciplinary and politically engaged performances, and provide workshops and community outreach and education. Sins Invalid is committed to social and economic justice for all people with disabilities. Join their email list, follow them on Facebook, and watch a preview of the Sins Invalid film. Help sustain their work with a tax-deductible donation through their fiscal sponsor (Dancers Group), or shop their online store here.
You can support our work financially here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/solidaritywoc