I have been an active participant in the battle for my individual rights as a human being with a disability since 1974. In 1977, my calling in that battle expanded to include my rights as an African American male. The two battles became one as I began to recognize, and be noticed for, leadership and outspoken advocacy for the equal treatment of all people. As I reflect on the decades of personal and professional challenges I have faced, a picture became clearer about the environment that created, upheld, and perpetuated the social and economic challenges.
– Democracy: Rule of the majority, a government where the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodical elections.
– Free elections. I don’t know when the above definition was written, but I can imagine who wrote it. We do not have “free” elections in the United States of America. The majority of elected representatives are males. Do White males equitably represent the interest of people of color? Can White males equitably represent the interest of people of color? Do people without disabilities equitably represent people with disabilities?
I have knowledge of the real history of the United States of America. This country was built on the operation of White supremacy, genocide and destruction of Native Indians, enslavement of Africans, theft of land, and reducing women to second-class citizens.
The major institutions in this country continue to operate from a White male racial framework; the White male collective institutions are all part of that framework. They all participated in, supported, perpetuated, and made money on the slave trade and destruction of native populations. The institutions continue to operate in the same frame…from a capitalistic construct. Those institutions are politics, banking, law, religion, and education.
The institutionalized operation of discrimination, oppression, suppression, racism, sexism, and other isms in this country will continue as long as non-White males fail to recognize their collective kinship and strength by collaborating and cooperating to eliminate the harmful conditions in which we live.
Kenneth Brown is a disability/seniors advocate and consultant. His interest and training include anti-racism and human rights. He welcomes readers’ responses to ablenotdisabledaol.com.