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To Be BIPOC, Disabled and Fighting for Justice

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted 30 years ago in July to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA is seen as an important law, but disability justice advocates argue that there is still a lot of work to be done to advance the cause of disability justice. Disability justice is where deaf and disabled Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) individuals come together and recognize their shared experiences of oppression. Disability justice advocates contend that disability rights and the ADA are just the beginning of the larger conversation of society's treatment of disabled people.

BIPOC disability justice advocates contend that even the disability community is not immune to privilege and power dynamics. Advocates argue that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to addressing the needs of disabled people. Jen Deerinwater, founder of Crushing Colonialism, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and a BIPOC disability justice activist, says that disability justice needs to account for the needs of specific groups. Indigenous communities, for example, face particular challenges compounded for people with disabilities, including scarcity in housing, employment, and healthcare. Deerinwater highlights that Native Americans have the highest rates of disability per capita of any ethnic or racial group. Advocates argue that for disability justice to be achieved, it is necessary to understand how other forms of oppression intersect with disability.

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Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building a Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Community!

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