Do Black people with disabilities’ lives matter?


ablenotdisabledDo Black lives matter? I submit to all, if Black lives matter, then yes, Black people with disabilities’ lives matter as well.

I pose the two questions because the answers are not as clear as one would like to believe. Black is a culture unto itself. It manifests itself in varied ways.

People with disabilities are a culture unto themselves as well. One can be Black and have one or multiple disabilities. In my lifetime I have personally identified more as a person with a disability than being Black.

To be clear, I was not always a person with a disability. My formative years were spent “CRIPPLED.” In these United States, where we claim to live in a democracy in which all men are created equal, where all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, how is it possible to be a human being but classified and treated as an object?

No one will ever hear me identify myself as “disabled.” People use this term, and somewhere someone decided the term was acceptable. It is easy to fit into the shortcut English language people use.

Example: The disabled require special care. Example: Persons with disabilities require fair and equitable treatment including self-care.

Somewhere the White people in power, the White people noted as experts and White appointed leaders in the disabled community accept being labeled as an object. Of course, White disabled people irrespective of their disability garner privilege through the color of their skin.

The organizations, whether for profit or nonprofit, that have been established to assist the disabled are nearly 100 percent White. These organizations fed off the term “disabled.” This allows them to decide who and how the disabled are to be helped.

As a community leader, I have never been asked how I could be helped, if I needed help, was I disabled, or was I Black. When I decide to volunteer on behalf of persons with disabilities, I usually am the only person of color and the only Black.

I have to volunteer because organizations seldom have other Black people on staff, hired as consultants, or serving as board members. I choose to volunteer to give these organizations an example of who Black people with disabilities are and what they can do. The normal responses are: You are so articulate. Where did you go to school? You own your own business — wow.

In these United States in 2016, people with disabilities should be fully integrated into the fabric of this country. Black people with disabilities should be fully integrated into the fabric of this country. Why are we not fully accepted and integrated into Black life in this country?

We do not seek special or extra treatment. The lie being fed to you through media of all kinds and the myths attributed to us and believed by you are subversive methods by those in power to divide and separate us. Why is it so difficult for those of you not with a disability to see and understand how detrimental it is to our survival to allow these intentional divisive notions to keep us from uniting as ONE?

What would your world be like if the DISABLED were in power, controlled politics, education, banking, the military and religion?


Kenneth Brown is a disability advocate and consultant, business owner, community servant, and holder of 56 years of living expertise AS A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY. Make no mistake: self-identity equals self-respect. He welcomes reader responses to or would appreciate hearing from you at 612-518-2155.