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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Youth Caucus Statement in Solidarity with Students of Color

To the Black students and all students of color who are battling racism at Mizzou, across the country, and around the world: we, disabled activists of the National Council on Independent Living Youth Caucus, move with you in solidarity. We are in awe of your courage for confronting racism at your schools. Your vulnerability in speaking candidly about your experiences, your strength in organizing protests in huge numbers, and your effectiveness at holding the administrators at your schools accountable to not meeting your needs is powerful. You are powerful. We support you.

To the disability community: we must speak out about racism. We need to recognize that the liberation of disabled people is only possible if we are fighting for racial justice. This means as a community we must stand with Black people and all people of color.

Justice for disabled people is impossible without prioritizing the needs of disabled people of color. Disabled Black people and people of color specifically are being institutionalized—because of racial injustice as well as ableism. When the disability community works to free our people from institutions that needs to mean freeing all people from all institutions. Independence means keeping people out of nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals, and it also means keeping people out of prisons. Independence is freedom from police brutality. Independence is being safe and supported in college because independence means access to resources and access to spaces.

The fight for independent living is about all people living safely in their communities. Focusing only on disability does not support the people who make up our community because it prevents people from bringing their whole, multifaceted, selves into our movement. Ultimately, we exclude disabled people of color from disability communities if we do not prioritize their participation and leadership.

Thus, we affirm that the collective liberation of disabled people needs to center the liberation of disabled people of color.

The Youth Caucus is committed to working at the intersections of ableism and racism. We are making concrete changes in our work to address the ways we fail people of color.

We commit to:

  • Listening to people of color and supporting them in the ways that they ask for.
  • Deliberately creating spaces to address systemic, internalized, institutional and blatant racism.
  • Purposefully building relationships with and amplifying the voices of people of color.
  • Seeking out and addressing the concerns of disabled people of color when they speak of being marginalized inside of the Independent Living movement and specifically in our caucus.
  • Spreading information about racism and the activism of people of color to our network, and pushing for disability advocates to recognize that racism is a disability issue regardless of whether racial justice work is directly confronting ableism.
  • Holding ourselves, Centers for Independent Living, State Independent Living Councils, and all members of NCIL accountable to the ways that we perpetuate racism by actively educating ourselves and each other, and confronting our white peers about their racist actions.

We urge disability activists to fight for social justice by educating ourselves about racism, answering calls for solidarity, developing concrete action plans on how to do more anti-racist work, and seeking out the leadership of disabled people of color. We also urge NCIL membership, Centers for Independent Living, State Independent Living Councils, and the disability community as a whole to address our overwhelming whiteness and challenge racism and anti-Blackness inside of our communities.

Signed,

The National Council on Independent Living Youth Caucus

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