Reposted from Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder News Online
By: Kenneth Brown
Alison Canty and Mai Thor are two of the persons working to increase the awareness of civil rights to persons of color with disabilities and the general public. Together, they have convened a group for people of color with disabilities to address the many complicated issues our culture faces as a marginalized community. Our purpose is to bridge communication and build power among communities of color persons with disabilities.
This is a great opportunity to serve the growing diversity in our communities as we look to the future of Minnesota. We have come far with many accomplishments throughout Minnesota. However, there is more work to do.
Our desire is to illuminate the narrow thinking that constricts our efforts in promoting full equity, and the total immersed inclusion of people of color with disabilities. Some of that constriction is the lack of affordable accessible or adaptable housing, underemployment, and lack of employment opportunities.
This also includes the lack of accommodations within the workplace as well as the continued violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by building owners not allowing persons with disabilities to freely access their buildings. The federal government recently eliminated provisions in the ADA requiring building owners to meet the accessibility requirements within the law. The building owners blame lawyers filing lawsuits against them for 27 years of ignoring and/or violating the law under the premise that the disabled are causing an undue hardship for them.
There are significant disparities in the availability of support and services among people of color with disabilities. The most important and vital of these is adequate quality and equality health care. We also need adequate resources for victims of sexual assault and other personally harmful crimes against members of our culture.
Canty states, “As a single parent, a person with a disability, a person of color, a sexual assault survivor, and a woman, I cannot express how important this issue is and how it impacts everyone. It will help us work towards understanding the complexities of being a person of color with disabilities.”
This initiative is the first step in challenging longstanding systems of oppression and leadership that have stood in the way of equity and inclusion. It is the kind of change that is needed in order to create a catalyst that can help create a policy that embraces the successes and contributions of people of color with disabilities within the community.
The systems and leaders of government, business and politics continue to not recognize people of color with disabilities as leaders and change agents. This results in not having a voice that is heard and a lack of recognition of our gifts as contributing members of society.
We request your help in addressing these issues. Please join us for our monthly meeting at the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living every third Thursday of the month from 6:30 to 8 pm at 530 Robert Street, St. Paul, MN 55101. We provide a safe space for open discussion on matters and issues related to being a person of color with disabilities and all that intersects with those identities.
The stronger our presence, the louder our voices, the more powerful our action, the more likely our movement will be sustained.