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

Statement from NCIL’s President

Many of you may have heard part of my remarks during a protest. In trying to explain my frustration that Democrats have failed to recognize and address the unjust incarceration of people with disabilities in nursing facilities and other institutions, I used absolutely inappropriate language. My concern for those locked in institutions because they are disabled should never have been stated in a way that minimized concern for those locked in other institutions that are equally abhorrent. That was wrong.

I cannot apologize strongly enough. I have long fought the use of the Oppression Olympics and my lack of forethought that day allowed me to slip into it myself. Ableism, racism, and xenophobia have and continue to oppress many in our community and my words only served to erase – and simultaneously add to – that oppression. I make no excuses for this, and I am truly sorry for the harm it has caused.

My words are my own and I take responsibility for them. They were not talking points from NCIL and do not represent NCIL’s positions. NCIL is working hard toward intersectionality for justice. I regret that I have acted in a manner that has hurt NCIL. I also understand that my words have made some individuals feel unsafe and they may be concerned about engaging in ADAPT activism or taking part in the NCIL conference. I am deeply regretful that my words have caused fear or pain. I sincerely and deeply apologize.

I applauded – and applaud – Democrats for the commitment to fighting the atrocities being committed against immigrant communities. I appreciate the fact that Dems – after some fierce advocacy by immigration advocates – have embraced immigration as a core issue, but we all need to do more.

It was deeply frustrating that Democratic Leadership are locking down H.R. 555, however, that frustration is no justification for pitting communities against one another. My concern for those locked in institutions because they are disabled should never be used to minimize concern for those locked in other institutions that are equally abhorrent.

There are a lot of similarities among issues involving incarceration and institutionalization. That injustice is operationalized through systems of oppression impacting multiple communities. There are striking parallels among the prison systems, institutions for people with disabilities, and ICE facilities. Incarceration based on who you are – and how you are perceived in American society – needs to end.

I appreciate those that have held me accountable and helped educate me. I am embarrassed by where my words led me and will strive to do better as we work to end institutional confinement and advance justice. I am deeply sorry because my thoughtlessly hurtful words have the potential to undercut so many people who are doing this important work. The American Dream and Promise Act, the Equality Act, and the Disability Integration Act represent the amazing work that can be done when we fight for justice in solidarity. We must continue that fight.

I understand that only actions undo the damage of words. I am actively seeking guidance both from inside and outside the disability community from people closest to this pain on how I can take the next step and begin to make amends.

To begin with, effective immediately, I am resigning as President of NCIL.

The NCIL board is meeting later today in emergency session and will be issuing a statement. 

Bruce Darling

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  1. Well, these are big issues there is an even bigger one that needs to be addressed. That of those with Disabilities not having access to Healthcare period.

  2. Charles W. Artis says

    You have nothing to apologize for. The Democrats are neglecting their core voters.
    They’re trying to win back White middle class and the White middle class only cares
    about how well they’re doing. While America remains a free speech democracy you
    have the right to your opinion,and they have a right to express their own.

  3. Where can I find these remarks? Searches are not turning them up.

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