The above memory was prompted by reading post at Musings of an Angry Black Womyn. She wrote about the very white appearance of the disability rights celebrations. I am the symbolic representation of the movement: white, typical body in many ways, middle aged and using a manual wheelchair. My presence is expected. I am struck by this and the severely limited number of black people present at ADA celebrations. With delight I read the following:
The face of the ADA, like the face of the disability community and the disability rights movement is White. Of course, those who authored the ADA, as well as the politicians who pushed it forward, along with the disability rights leaders and the one who signed it into law were all White. Fine. I have nothing but the deepest respect for you all. Still, the way the story is told, you'd think Black folks just sat on our duffs and sucked up the benefits of the ADA while White folks and a few Latinos did all the work.
I'm going to tell my version of the narrative, which is every bit as true as the mainstream version. Black folks helped get the ADA passed, too. We didn't write the law, but we put our bodies and lives on the line to get it passed. Even before the first word of the legislation was written, before the first hearing, before anything,
Am I angry? Jealous? Jaded? You bet! I see all these White folks being lauded and praised, but only a couple of token Blacks appear anywhere. Young White folks who weren't even born when we Black folks were being dragged from our wheelchairs or beat up by cops are being seen as the face of the movement, while Black folks aren't really spoken of unless you're considered respectable. To date, I've only seen three Black folks put forward as leaders in the disability rights movement and one of them has passed away.
Why is it that the face of the ADA, the disability community and the disability rights movement is White? Is it racism? Is it the system of White supremacy? Is it because White is the default condition or experience? I maintain that it's all of the above.
Bravo! Love the mixture of astute observations and anger. Ah, anger. A friend of mine jokes that "Anger gets shit done". All too true. Yet anger directed inward is incredibly destructive. Balancing two types of anger can be very difficult. I for one embrace anger that is directed outward in a painfully polite manner. I do my best to avoid directing anger inward as depression can be lethal. So on this dreary rainy day in Central New York I share the outward anger and musings Of An Angry Black Woman.