Using the 10 Principles of Disability Justice to Advance Racial Equity
I believe that Disability Justice is a pathway for organizations and individuals to work toward racial justice. Disability Justice is a concept created by and for Black, Indigenous, and multiracial people and people of color (BIPOC), and was originally intended to be practiced within BIPOC communities.
We know that Black, Indigenous, and multiracial people and people of color are disproportionately impacted by disablism. BIPOC are more likely to live in resource-extraction locales due to redlining and poverty. BIPOC are more likely to experience chemical injury, including asthma, from landfills, water treatment plants, refineries, vehicle exhaust, and other toxic environmental pollutants that are located in our communities. About 50% of people murdered by police are disabled, and these are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The impacts of intergenerational racial trauma impact the mental health of BIPOC and can lead to PTSD. White families have approximately 10x more wealth ($171,000) than Black families ($17,150) as of 2016.
Working toward the liberation of disabled Black, Indigenous, and multiracial people and people of color will liberate all BIPOC people and communities.
According to Tema Okun, some of the traits of white culture include, “Perfectionism, a sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, only one right way, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of open conflict, individualism, ‘I’m the only one,’ progress is bigger/more, objectivity, and a right to comfort.”
The Ten Principles of Disability Justice by Sins Invalid are, “Intersectionality, leadership of those most impacted, anti-capitalist politic, commitment to cross-movement organiizing, recognizing wholeness, sustainability, commitment to cross-disability solidarity, interdependence, collective access, and collective liberation.”
How are the principles of Disability Justice antidotes to the traits of white culture? Go to Tema Okun’s link and look at her antidotes to white culture. How do they overlap with the principles of Disability Justice?
Most importantly, how can we integrate the 10 Principles of Disability Justice and an understanding of white culture into our daily work, either as individuals or as organizations?
For example, when we think about the sense of urgency that is embedded in so many of our systems, organizations, and selves, we know it results in working quickly, leaving people behind, and stretching ourselves and our resources too far. Some Disability Justice-centered antidotes to this aspect of white culture are cross-disability solidarity, collective access, and collective liberation, which seek to ensure that everyone gets to come along as we make forward movement in our struggles for justice. Sustainability helps us remember to pace ourselves, take breaks, and be realistic about the time it takes to do different tasks. Anti-capitalism rejects the norms of colonialism’s resource-extraction framework and allows us to build new ways of being that respect each person’s and the collective’s dignity. Finally, recognizing wholeness gives us the opportunity to radically accept where we are in each moment, and respect ourselves, our bodyminds, and our capacities. By focusing on Disability Justice in our antidotes to white supremacy culture, we are helping to ensure that those most targeted by oppressions are centered in the work we do.
What does this look like in practice? Bring my practice to your group or organization to find out! This is just a snapshot of what it would be like to work with me around this topic. I customize workshops to the context of your group and support conscientization (consciousness-raising) within individuals, as well as systemic change at the mezzo and macro levels in your organization and beyond.