CHHSM Anti-Racism Center

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Disability Justice

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Disability Justice is a movement and framework which addresses the multitude of ways disability and ableism intersect with other forms of oppression and identities (e.g. Black, Indigenous, People of Color, queer, trans, immigrant, poor, homeless, incarcerated, etc.) and centers on the lived experiences of those intersecting identities to work for social change and liberation.

Conceived by queer disabled women of color Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, and Stacey Milbern in 2005, and later joined by many others, Disability Justice grew out of a critique of the disability rights movement as overly focused on the perspectives of straight white men with physical disabilities. It recognizes the intersecting oppressive systems of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, etc. in understanding how peoples’ bodies and minds are valued or how they are labeled as “deviant,” “unproductive,” and “disposable.” Disability Justice believes that all bodies and minds are unique, essential, and have needs that should be met.

Although there is no definitive recording of the disability status of those killed by police, the Ruderman Family Foundation published a 2016 study that estimates disabled people make up a third to half of all those killed by law enforcement officers. It is also estimated that the risk of being killed during a police incident is 16 times greater for individuals with untreated serious mental illness. And #BlackDisabledLivesMatter has created a platform to bring awareness of how the lives of disabled people of color are disproportionately affected by police brutality.

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