Advocacy and Allies
by Tim Hornbecker
I attended a community organizing meeting of the local Gamaliel affiliate, Genesis. The Arc of California has been working with Gamaliel for over 10 years to help provide leadership and advocacy training. Just to refresh your memory, Gamaliel is an international network of grassroots, non-partisan, faith and value-based organizations in 17 U.S. states, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The organization provides ordinary people the tools, structures, attitudes and strategies to effectively participate in the social, political, environmental and economic decisions affecting their lives.
The meeting at Genesis focused on “Justice for People with Disabilities – Racism.” Rev. Terry DeeGrace Mooris from the Bay Area Disabled Community Rising in Power and Protest, discussed the term “intersectionality”…. where different prejudices in our society come together or intersect to create discrimination. An example was used of a person with disabilities in a wheelchair, Korean, a woman, and a lesbian. Definitely an intersection of descriptors that place the person in different categories that people stereotype and discriminate! So much so, that the National Council on Disabilities reported a 3-5 times higher incarceration rate of people with disabilities over the general population. The study continues to show that 50% of police shootings involve people with disabilities. The rate of crimes happening to persons with disabilities is twice that of persons without disabilities.
The meeting attendees broke into groups to discuss the intersection of bigotry that they have experienced or witnessed. Does the #MeToo movement on Social Media also apply to our people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities? Of course it does. So what do we need to do? We need to empower people to likewise be able to tell their stories of discrimination and abuse. We need to ally with other individuals and organizations to “speak-out” with the loudest and strongest voice possible: “abuse, violence and discrimination against anyone is unacceptable, especially against people with intellectual and developmental disabilities!”
Tim Hornbecker firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arc CA Advocacy and Community Organizing