Are We Talking The Same Talk After All of These Years? Interrupting The Conversation on Race & Disability

Leroy - Posted on 20 April 2013


Even today when I read about race & disability most of the time it starts out as a problem and links to the “negative side” like poverty, lack of….. and so on.  Yes we need to talk about the above but should we continue to start the conversation always the same way?

Another thing I have witnessed, in my 15 plus years, living, researching and reading about the realities of race & disability is that 9 times out of 10 the talks, books, studies come from outside the Black community.  The work on race and disability is from White researchers, academics, journalists, authors, and social service providers.

Most recently the work is also being done by, Black scholars/services providers and sometimes parents who have been taught about disability rights and culture but not through a race lens. 

However, I’m not saying that there is no work out there.  However on a larger scale that connects all of us is still not a reality. I also noticed that the research doesn’t connect the two I’s (1) Individual and (2) Institutional/Organization experiences. It seems there are a lot of I stories and on the other end lacking Institution/Organization stories.

Last thing I’ve noticed through these years is there is only a little amount of talking/writing by people of color about the rich art, music, writings, cultural work, organizing, activism etc. by people of color with disabilities. We need to continue to interrupt this broken record conversation on how we talk, write, paint and more importantly how we live race & disability.

I need to look at the full picture and realize that there is great work happening and also know if we want to communicate that means we must learn our own way of being, talking and sharing. Yes we can take pieces from many conversations but those pieces can't make up our foundation.  We must understand to develop our own way of doing takes work, time and patience.

Again, just my experience thus far as a Black disabled independent scholar in my mid 40’s.  I remind myself roots have been planted and every day I see more and more leaves. Enjoy the process and many will see the outcome.


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