Marrying 40 years of activism with 28 years of the ADA 

by Leroy Moore


At age 50, for years I have worked in many organizations for and by Black/Brown disabled people. Although the work has been done in many small pockets throughout the country I see the vast distance growing even further between the Black/Brown disability community and the powerful well funded White disability community.  These government and non profit disability organizations continue to set the framework on what issues and groups get attention. 


In the heighten times in which we live with White supremacy coming from the White House, you would think that disability organizations would take on more Black/Brown people in leadership and address deeper issues. 


Data has shown for many years that Black/Brown young people with disabilities are in the school to prison pipeline. It is a wonder why the NAACP and other Black/Brown social justice organizations have not rallied to hold national disability organizations accountable.  There is enough work that establishes the cause, for example the writings of Subini Annamma, author of a new book, The Pedagogy of Pathologization: Dis/abled Girls of Color in the School-prison Nexus.  


We also know that the higher percentage of Black/Brown disabled people begin life at an economic disadvantage which continues to widen the gap of poverty between White and Black/Brown disabled people.  For many years Black/Brown people have complained, yelled, screamed of discriminatory practices in service delivery systems. Thanks to Senator Rice of New Jersey a state law requires an annual assessment of services to disabled people of color.


And where my work has been seated for many years, in the police shootings of Black disabled people. So what about a youth and young adult "Know Your Rights" program with a strong cultural expression component in the the Independent Living Centers?  Many years ago young Black men in particular carried "the book" which explained their rights and what not to do when approached by police.  The NAACP could help tremendously with this project.


White disability organizations decide which Black leaders to promote that fits their mold while many Black disabled people are black listed.  The same is happening in our Black/Brown social justice organizations/movements.  They too choose who and what topics agree with their work.  They rarely identify disability justice principles and when doing so, only utilize White disability organizations and government agencies.


Anniversaries are a great time for reflection.  Perhaps this 28th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act will be a new beginning in sharing power and resources between the White and Black/Brown disability communities with commitment from Black/Brown social justice movements and national Black/Brown civil rights organizations.