Well, officially it’s Disability Pride Month to celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act getting signed into law on July 20, 1990. I want to be clear that the ADA didn’t happen because nice abled people decided to help the handicapped. Disabled activists literally crawled up the steps of the US Capitol to show how fucked up the inaccessibility of the world is. We raised hell for years to get the ADA passed. But the ADA is a floor, not a ceiling. It’s meant to provide basic rights, not the liberation we dream of.
What’s the difference between disability rights and disability justice? As Japanese/Haitian DJ movement founder and co-creator of Sins Invalid Patty Berne says, “Disability justice exists in the “cliffhangers” left behind by the disability rights movement.” Disability justice centers the issues and resistance of queer, trans, and BIPOC disabled people, inside and outside the state. Disability rights was and is a majority white movement focused on changing laws and policies.
For a crash course on disability justice, read through these 10 Principles and check out Sins Invalid’s DJ primer while you’re at it. You can use this BIPOC disabled made tool for yourself, your community or organization to reflect on where you’re at understanding and putting disability justice into practice.
It’s a weird time to be disabled and alive. On the one hand, there’s so much rad disabled organizing, cultural work, shit to read and read some more. I just got done performing at the I wanna be with you everywhere disability justice performance festival. I was blown away by the care, access, and seamless bringing together of people both in person and online. But at the same time, the world is in a huge fascist eugenics slaughterhouse of attacks on bodily autonomy, disabled voting rights, access to Medicaid and backlash against the “cripping of the world the pandemic brought.
It’s the best of times and the worst of times, but we keep going. As my friend, badass Arab Jewish disabled femme transformative justice worker Shira Hassan said in her book Saving Our Own Lives: “We have to stay in love with each other’s survival at the messy kitchen table of community. “