Organizer's Forum

Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Racism & Disability Communities: Dec 16, 2014

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Organizer’s Forum: Topic – Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Racism, and Disability Communities

TUESDAY, December 16th

TUESDAY, December 16th, 1-2 pm Eastern time, 12-1 Central time, 11-12 Mountain time, 10-11 am Pacific time

  • Call in number: 1-860-970-0300
  • Code: 193134#

Speakers

  • India Harville, a teacher, artist, educator, and activist, working in racial justice and disability justice
  • A speaker from Showing Up for Racial Justice, a network of white anti-racist ally groups
  • Anita Cameron, activist in ADAPT and Not Dead yet, blogger at AngryBlackWomyn

Note: It will be challenging to get into these topics in an hour, but we’d like to take the opportunity of this call to educate ourselves a little on what’s going on around the country and what can we all do to fight racism. Please join us to hear from insightful speakers and think about what’s next.

  • Call in number: 1-213-342-3000
  • Code: 193134#

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CART: The call will have real-time captioning (CART)! The website where you will be able to view the captioning is https://2020captioning.1capapp.com. Username: forum. Password: forum. Thank you to the National Disability Leadership Alliance for sponsoring the captioning of this call.

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Background

The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.

To ask questions via CART: Sign-in to the Chat function on the right side of the transcript and type your question. One of the call facilitators will read out any questions posted there.

Because we want to maximize the generously donated CART services, we will begin the call promptly at 1pm and end the call promptly at 2pm (eastern time). A few other reminders about call etiquette:

  • Say your name before each time you speak
  • Speak one at a time
  • Speak slowly and as clearly as possible

So you can mark your calendars now, Organizer’s Forums are held on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. If you have suggestions for call topics or presenters for upcoming topics, please email them to jlehman7@gmail.com or dcoleman@cdrnys.org.

Looking forward to talking with you all!

Jessica Lehman and Diane Coleman
Co-Chairs, National Organizing Workgroup

***THIS TEXT IS BEING PROVIDED IN A ROUGH DRAFT FORMAT. COMMUNICATION ACCESS REALTIME TRANSLATION IS PROVIDED IN ORDER TO FACILITATE COMMUNICATION ACCESSIBILITY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY VERBATIM. PLEASE CHECK WITH THE SPEAKER(s) FOR ANY CLARIFICATION**

National Disability Leadership Alliance

Organizer’s Forum

December 16, 2014.

>>CART Captioner: Hi.  I have dialed into:

1 860 970 0300  Code: 193134#

Currently there is music playing.

Standing by.

>> Female Speaker: Are any of our speakers on yet?

>> Female Speaker: How many were on when you came on the phone?

>> Female Speaker: It said there are six people?

>> Female Speaker: Oh, is that Jessica?

>> Jessica: This is Jessica.  Who is this?

>> Beverly [Name?].  I have lost some weight.  The surgery went fine.  I had a iron and vitamin D deficiency.  They gave me some vitamins and I am feeling a lot better now.

>> Jessica: Great.  Nice to have you on the call.

>> Beverly:  It’s good to hear your voice.  Have not seen you since last year.

>> Jessica: Who is on so far?

>> Mary Butler.

>> JoAnne Johnson, southwest Michigan.

>> Jessica: Great.

>> Female Speaker: Southwest, Ohio.

>> India Harvel.

>> Jessica: Great.

Hi, India.  It sounds like we don’t have Karla or Anita yet.  Is that right?

And Diane, are you there?

>> Diane: Yeah.  I’m here.

>> Jessica: Great.  You’re on the chat today?

>> Diane: Yes.

>> Jessica: Wonderful.

>> Charlie [Name?] and members of the oasis recovery and center in Providence.

>> Janine.

>> Female Speaker: Hi, Janine.

>> Julie Espinoza.

>> Jessica: Where are you from, Julie?

>> Julie:  Center for independent living in Plano, Texas.

>> Jessica: Great.  Welcome.

Jessica who was that?

>> Caitlin in Georgia. Caitlin Childs.

>> Female Speaker: That was Anita [Name?] voice.

>> Jessica: oh, Anita is on.

>> Anita.  Can you hear me?

>> Jessica: We can.  But there’s just a little bit of static.

>> Female Speaker: It’s hard to say where the static is coming from.

>> Karla Wallace.

>> Jessica: Great.  Hi, Karla.

>> Female Speaker: Great.  How are you?

>> Jessica: Great.  How are you?

>> Female Speaker: Karla:  I’m all right.

>> Jessica: That you have for being on.

>> Karla:  Honored to be with you.

>> Female Speaker: Mattie.  I just joined the call.

>> Jessica: Hi, Mattie.

>> Female Speaker: [indiscernible] [lot of background noise going on right now].

>> Susan.  Just joined.

>> Jessica: That was [indiscernible]?

>> Female Speaker: Max?

[Name?]?

From California.

>> Jessica: Great.  Who was that?

>> Bill [Name?] in Texas.

>> Reagan in Oakland.

>> Jessica: Hi, Reagan.

>> Female Speaker: Good afternoon.  Shelby from Georgia.

>> Male Speaker: [off mic].

>> Jessica: I’m sorry, who was that?

[Overlapping speakers.  ].

>> Female Speaker: Shelby Simmons.

>> Jessica: We have about 25 people on I think we should go ahead and get started.  I think people will keep introducing themselves.

>> Jessica: So I will go ahead and get starred.  Welcome everyone been I’m Jessica [Name?] one of the co coordinators of the Organizers Forum.  I am in San Francisco, the director of senior and disability action.  My co chair is Diane Cole man, do you want to introduce yourself?

>> Diane: I am Diane Coleman, a member of the Steering Committee of the National Disability Leadership Alliance.  Of which is the sponsor of this call.

>> Jessica: Thanks.  And the NDLA, for people who don’t know, a national coalition of cross disability organizations.

The organizers forum was designed to expand and support community organizing in disability communities and we do a different topic each month.  We are, we welcome people joining for the first time, and welcome back those who have been on before.  We always have a call on the third Tuesday of each month at the same time.

So feel free to Mark your calendars about that.  If I can ask people who are not speaking to mute their phones, you can just hit star 6.

There’s a little bit of background noise.  So if everyone can hit star 6    it got quiet, more neighbor not.  When you’re ready to speak, can you hit star 6 again to un mute.

B we get to the topic, a couple of housekeeping things.  I think we don’t do more introductions today.  I apologize if you didn’t get a chance to introduce yourself, but we want to be able to jump into the topic.  There’s a link in the e mail that you should have gotten about this call that asked people to register.  If you have not done that, put in your name, organization, city, and so then we have an idea of who is on and we can keep in touch better.

This call is captioned, thanks to our captioner, and thanks to NDLA for paying for the captioning.  You can log on and type questions there and Diane is on the chat.  She can read the questions out on the call.

I want to remind everyone, including myself, to speak slowly and clearly and say your name before you speak so we know who is who.

Please don’t put us on hold.  We have had problems with hold music in the past.  So if you need to step away from the phone, hang up.  You can always call right back, and we’ll be here.

So probably, especially for today’s topic, but for any of the topics we deal with, an hour is not enough, of course, for us to really cover it and do the work we need to do.  So a couple of the ways that we set up for ongoing communication between organizers is we have a LISTSERV that’s an organizers forum at Yahoo groups.com.  There’s not a lot of traffic on there.  Don’t worry about being overwhelmed.  I encourage you to go on to Yahoo groups.com, and organizersforum, all one word.  We’re on FaceBook too.  Organization forum, two words just like it looks.  On the call today, if you want to go on FaceBook and say this is what I am thinking about, and this caught my attention and this is a question I have, that’s a great way to have a discussion.

The transcript recording of this call will be on the NDLA website for later.  So if you want to look at it, listen to it later, if you want to share with someone else, feel free to do that.  That website is disabilityleadership.org.

One last thing is that we are always looking for ideas for topics for these calls.  If you have any ideas, feel free to e mail me or Diane and let us know what you are thinking.  So I think that covers it.

For kind of the housekeeping things.

I will go ahead and briefly introduce the topic and turn it over to our speakers.

So we have three speakers today.  Our topic, of course, is about Ferguson, black lives matter, racism, and disability communities.  I wanted to kind of recognize this is a really challenging topic.  Personally I felt very challenged by how to put together a useful and productive call.

Without a lot of time to figure it out.  But given what’s going on in our community, it seems like there’s a lot of conversations that we need to have and this is one way we can start talking to each other and figure out where to go from here.

So we want to kind of put out that this is really a starting place.  The idea for this call is for us to do some listening and some learning.  We have some great speakers who I think have a lot of rich experience on the topic.  We do plan to put together resources with your help as well that we can put out to everybody.

And then to kind of think about what does this mean for the disability community, the disability right movement and what do we all need to be doing in our own communities.

So with that, our three speakers today.  India Harvel, an activist working in race, justice, and disability justice.  Karla Wallace showing up for racial justice, a network of white anti racist ally groups, and Anita Cameron, an activist in [indiscernible] and a I am sure a lot of people know Anita, and she’s a blogger at title angry black women.”  I will turn it over.  India, before you start, I am thinking I will put our in presentation mode to everyone else is muted.

Hold on one second.

>> Jessica: Okay.  Now everyone is muted.  You can hit star 6 to un mute yourself.  India, do you want to try that and go ahead?

>> India:  Hello.

>> Jessica: There you are.

>> India:  Perfect.  India Havel.  Hello, everyone.  I would like to welcome everyone again.  Thank you for being on the call today.  As Jessica said, this can be a challenging topic.  I really appreciate all of you showing up for the call.

I want to thank you for having me.  As I said, my name is India HARVEL.  I’m an African American clear disable art activist in the Bay Area.  A healing arts elective called The Movement and based in the Bay.  I will say more about our work later.

And first I would like to actually take a moment and have a moment of silence for all of the lives lost at the hands of police and through state sanctioned violence.

Before we do that, I also want to acknowledge that in addition to the impacting black men disproportionately it also impacts black women, people of color, trans men and trans women, gender clear people, disabled people, and people who live at the intersection of these identities.  This is not to say it doesn’t impact everyone in all communities, but we really want to acknowledge disproportionately how these communities are impacted.  So let’s just have a moment.  Thank you.  As we start this work, I want to talk about disability rights work, and disability justice work, and I know how much work remains as I continue to be inside of that work.  But today we’re going to turn our focus explicitly to black lives matter as an act of solidarity in a time of emergency in the African American community and the African American [indiscernible] community.  In this vein, we’re growing our capacity to hold the weight of our own oppression as disabled people and the pain of another community facing oppression.

So I wanted to name that before we dive in to what is happening in Ferguson.  So some of this you may already know, but I will give a brief kind of overview of what’s been happening.

On August 9, Mike Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.

And I think it’s important to name prior to that that there have been so many unarmed black people who will have been killed at the hands of police and that that has been weighing on the community for a long time.  And that tons of organizing has been happening around this issue historically.  But I think something that was different around when Mike Brown was killed was that I think the community really has hit a kind of point of feeling like it’s a bit of a state of emergency.

In Ferguson, immediately, on August 9, there was a lot of organizing that started happening and a lot of protesting.  And people started feeding and taking care of the activists.  Through social media a group called excise the Millennial activist group excise we’re black women led movement.  And foregrounding the voices of we’re black women or any multiple he oppressed identities.  They’re both black, and sexual orientation is the place where they experience oppression, and experiencing sexism.  They are holding multiple suppressed identities and how they choose to identify looks different than other organizers in the past.  The things that are different about how this movement has been organized, actually I would like to read a little quote from JANETTA Elsee (sp?), one of the activists in Ferguson?

The organization.  She is speaking about what happened in while being out in the protests.  And she said “while being a part of the protests, from start to finish, I saw and felt the strength of women.  I witnessed the fearless spirit of the people but there was something special happening.  For the first time I had seen a large group of women standing side by side, crying out in anger, sorrow, and pain.  Our hurt and pain caused    caused an organic bond to start forming.  To go into the streets and protest with women on the front line, and where women are the minority discussing what is happening in Ferguson, I continue to tell the truth of what is happening in Ferguson from a fell perspective.”  .

And so that comes from an article.  I will give you the link to that later.

That was written about what is happening in Ferguson.

And I think that collective pain has been a place of shift and how the organizing has been happening.

There’s been a centering of voices that frequently gets silenced, and I think that’s really important to conversations around disability justice because the community is also starting to grapple with how to make things accessible and understanding disabled voices are one of the voices that frequently get silenced inside the conversation.  And centralizing youth and their tactics for addressing what is happening.

And moving away from this idea of historically of how we have had a leader at the forefront, like Martin Luther King, but this time not having a centralized person representing leadership, having leadership spread among many people.

And I think part of what is included in this organizing I think is something that women are bringing in is allowing us to have space for healing and grieving and to bring our spirituality into what is happening.  Because so many people    this feels very, very personal.  It’s people we know.  It’s people we’re connected to, and it’s having, it’s    it feels like a burden in some ways.

And so I think allowing us to also show up more completely has been really important.  Important in the movement and it’s a place where I think disability conversations emerge again.

So, there’s all this organizing that continues in Ferguson, but it also launched mass movements interlocking with multiple communities around the United States and even abroad.

There have been staged [indiscernible] tie ins in multiple community where is people are standing in solidarity with people being murdered in state violence.  There’s been a lot of planning for long term organizing to continue over the next several years.  There was a lot of shutting down of Black Friday around the Thanksgiving holiday to impact businesses and shoppers and make this the    bring this issue to the foreground of everyone’s mind.

And there’s been a lot of funneling resources to black activists and black businesses.  There’s been determinist fund raising for baling out people who have been doing activism and arrested, money funneled back into Ferguson, and there’s been many strikes and other movements that are connecting in and understanding how their movement is connected to ours.

And so in the gray area, both the movement and Black Out Collective have been doing several actions.

And coming this Thursday, there’s a event for people of color called” Breathe in Liberation” we’re doing a day long event around healing, fundraising and sending that money to Ferguson.  I have some links for everyone around if you are interested in donating, where to send money.

And I think I will close by saying why I think the Black Lives Matter movement is important to the disability community.

Simply I think reclaiming our humanity in general is incredibly important.  The plight of other human beings is always our business.  And I think particularly as people, as disabled people with our own struggle, we can allow that to inform our compassion for other communities and struggle.

I think that we deeply need each other and that the disability community very much can be in solidarity and become allies with what’s happening inside of the Black Lives Matter movement.  And, of course, there are many disabled Black people who are in the intersections of both of those realities.

And I think it’s important to recognize that ableism is entangled in every other form of oppression.  In some ways to me ableism explains kind of a myriad of oppressions and when we can explain that link to others, I think it helps them understand their oppression and also makes them interested in solidarity with disable communities.

And I think, again, with this Black Lives Matters movement, centralizing the voices of people who are handling multiple oppressed identities, there’s a listening there for what the disabled community needs and wants to see shifting inside of how organizing is happening.

I think that that, again, from the other direction, the people in the movement who have multiple oppressed identities have a listening available for people who are coming to share where they are oppressed.

So I am sorry that was a lot [chuckling] but I will stop there, and open it to the other speakers.  Thank you.

>> Jessica: This is Jessica.  That was really great, India.  Thank you so much for starting us off with that.  And I think it was interesting, at the end you were talking about having listening available.  And I know for myself as a white person I have been trying to figure out, okay, what is my role, right, and what does that mean to be an ally.  And I think there’s a lot of people on this call coming to it with different identities and different backgrounds and so we are delighted to invite Karla to talk a little bit about that work.

Karla, if you hit star 6 to un mute yourself.

>> Karla:  Can you hear me now?

>> Jessica: , yes, go ahead.

>> Karla:  I was saying it’s an honor to be a part of this call.  Thank you so much, India, for the framing that you just did.  I guess I will just talk a little bit    I am a white queer southerner who has done organizing in the south for a couple decades and work with a group called excise showing up for racial justice.  Can excise showing up racial justice.  Glad to be showing up into the key moment of what is a role for us who are white.

Instead of what people were saying was going to be the post racial period, there was a tremendous racist backlash.  Many activists of color who have been on the front lines in the struggle for centuries were saying where are the white people responding to this racial backlash.  So Surge formed as a national network of individuals and groups that see a focus for those of us who are white in organizing other white folks.  We have a particular responsibility to reach out to other white people and take the brunt of that piece of work, so to speak.  In this moment, when there is this tremendous struggle    again, I really appreciate the clarity about the centering of black led struggle, youth led struggle, collective struggle.  This is not about, okay, now white people are going to step forward and lead the charge.  The charge is being led in surge, we see reaching out to bringing more whites into racial justice work in an accountable way, which means acknowledging Black leadership, and the collective leadership coming out the Ferguson, and around the country on this issue.  Very much see the Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the hundreds and hundreds, including in my home town of Louisville.  We have had young black person after young black person killed by the police.  That these are not the exceptions, which is part of what the media sometimes wants to do is say, oh, what is happening in Ferguson?

When this is happening in communities all around the country.  So not seeing it as the exception, but as a rule within this systemic racism that is so institutionalized in our country.  Whether it’s housing, healthcare, whether it’s education, and perhaps the biggest example, mass incarceration.  Overwhelmingly disproportionately it is Black people going to prison, people of color, or people going to prison.  And in this particular moment we just    surge was hits with all of these white folks saying, what can we do?

And our first thing was to go to leaders, activists in Black lives Matter and Ferguson action, and ask, what would be helpful in this moment.  And there was very much a we need you to organize people, not just to come to Ferguson, part of it was that, especially early on, but mainly in your own communities, how are you he helping get white people to stand up and say this is our issue too.  One of the things we try to do in Surge is develop the idea that it isn’t about white people are helping another group of people, which can be a very kind of well intentioned by patronizing approach, but it’s rather that it’s actually in our mutual interest, and if he look at our other intersections among our identity, whether that is queerness, gender, or disability, or national status, immigrant status, etc., etc., there is a mutual interest in creating the kind of country and world that we can all live in where we’re all treated with dignity and with justice.  So we very much see this struggle in the mutual interest of white people.  When brown and black people of color are leading a struggle to expand justice, expand democracy, and expands what is possible with the terms of the humanity, it is in the interest of all of us.  When we don’t as white people, the silence    I don’t know if people remember way back.  During the height of the AIDS crisis there was a bumper sticker that said silence equals death.  In a way right now white silence can equal death.  It can equal going along unless there’s an alternative voice from white people saying Black Lives Matter, there is a kind of a accommodation or an enabling of things as they are, business as usual, when white people don’t say no.  I am standing in another place than that.  So our work very much right now is to really help and support and rather than quality out, we call it calling in, calling white people in to do the work.  In an accountable way.  And what we mean by accountability is we’re being asked to take action.  We need to take action.  It is not about taking over.  It’s not about centering ourselves, whether in the media or in actions or anything like that, but it is about organizing other white people to be visible in saying no.  In Louisville, just over a week ago, we had    there was a call out of Ferguson action for actions at the Department Justice.  So I am also part of a group called Louisville Showing up For Racial Justice.  We organized a big bunch of white folks, many of whom had never gotten into the street on racial justice before to stand outside of the department of justice and say, no, it’s not okay, what’s happening.  We demand a full federal investigation into all the police killings and police violence around the country.

And for other white people, there’s an 80 year old black civil rights leader named Bob Cunningham.  He said part of what we need you to do is set a poll to which other white people can gravitate to.  So if other white people see white folks stepping out and saying we are not okay with the killing of black men and women in our name, then it helps other white people say, oh, maybe this is about me too, maybe I have something to say about this too.

And I just really appreciate what India was saying about this being about our humanity.  Because the deepest kind of mutual interest, beyond the pieces like how are we going to    win with environmental justice, or disability justice, queer justice, economic justice, unless we stand together.  Beyond all of that is the piece about our own humanity and the transformative liberation that can happen when we decide that what will happens to any of us matters to us so deeply that we have to take action.

In this period, that’s one of the main things we’re doing is helping groups of white folk and white activists take action in supporting the black and people of it color led work around the country.

And coming to those actions in ways that are respectful, that honor that leadership, and still make white people visible as people who are taking a stand, who are stepping away from white silence, white accommodation, white supremacy, and saying we’re putting ourselves on the side of Black Lives Matter.  It’s been amazing.  We had one call with almost 1,000 responses and people are hungry for how they can engage.

And so I think it’s a really important moment.  We are really encouraging, happy to support folks who are wanting to take action.  We have an action kit that helps people do that.  The action kit, the talking points that are part of that, were all developed in conjunction with folks from Black Lives Matter.  Ferguson Action.  And it’s an incredible moment to be a part of this solidarity that matters to all of us.  So thanks so much for having me on.

>> Jessica: Thank you, Karla.  This is Jessica again.  That was really helpful to hear you talk about that.

And I will just go ahead and turn it over to Anita Cameron to talk a little bit more about the intersection of race and disability and to help us start a conversation about racism in the disability rights movement.  So, Anita, be sure to hit star 6 to un mute yourself.

>> Anita: .

>> Jessica: Anita    are you there?

Did you try star 6?

We don’t hear you yet, Anita.

Okay.  Let me try to un mute everyone and we’ll see if we can get Anita.  One second.

[Beep].

>> Anita: Can you hear me?

>> Jessica: Okay.  Everybody should be heard now.  If you are not speaking, please hit star 6 to mute yourself so that we can hear more easily.  Anita, are you there now?

>> Anita: Yes.

>> Jessica: Great.  Go ahead.

>> Anita: Okay.  Good morning.  Or good afternoon.  Wherever you are.

I am Anita Cameron.  I live in Denver.  Denver, Colorado.  I am a black disabled lesbian, that’s pretty much how I describe myself.  I have been doing activist work in the social justice arena for 33 years.

[indiscernible] for just under 30 years.

And I have a number of interests, but I think that it’s important to kind of say those who know me know that    I am usually the one to talk about the uncomfortable stuff or ask the uncomfortable questions.  And I    one of the things I do, a blog, my site is” Angry Black Women.”  I tend to come at things with this fire in my belly that is called anger.  And I do so from a standpoint of love, a standpoint of wanting to educate and start conversations.  But as you’ll notice, I tend to be a little more angry and insightful than those around me.

So thank you for having me on this call.  I’m very honored.  I think I’ll get right to it.

As I said, I’m a disabled black lesbian.  And so    and a number of other things, so people who know me kind of call me their [indiscernible] the walking intersection.  Because I belong to a number of oppressed groups but I largely identify as black disabled lesbian.  Those are my three things.  And the top two things are black and disabled and my top thing is black.

So racism in the [indiscernible] community [laugh in the background].

>> Anita: We in the disability community want to think of ourselves as we don’t see race or kind of sit around, Kumbaya and we tend to want to focus on disability issues and push race out of the way.  Because race is an uncomfortable thing.  And racism certainly is uncomfortable thing, uncomfortable to talk about, something we just want to kind of push by the wayside.

I am going to speak on my experiences, because I can’t speak on anyone else’s experiences than my own.  I think it would be kind of disrespectful to try to speak of anyone else’s experience, when I am not [indiscernible] with that person.

It has been my experience that I experienced more discrimination based on my race than my disability.  A large part of the racism that I experienced comes from people who identify as people with disabilities.

Obviously, we as people with disabilities, we’re human.  And we’re more like everyone else than we are different.

And there’s nothing that says that because we belong to a marginalized, oppressed group, that we are not going to experience or be guilty of racism.

Rather overt racism, or engaging in racism [background noise].  Behavior.

And it’s a problem.  It’s a problem that we want to kind of shove under the rug.  But I kind of had it thrown in my face in the wake of Ferguson.

In that    I blog, and I have written a number of articles about Ferguson, about the Black experience and I post a lot on FaceBook and share a lot of things related to the, related to racism or the Black experience.

And the pushback that I have gotten has come largely, almost exclusively from people with disabilities.  People with disabilities who happen to be white.

And it’s pretty painful.

I think because on the face you want to think that as a member of a marginalized group that we would understand the pain of injustice, but, unfortunately, there are some of us who perpetrate that.

This outpouring of activism, that began in Ferguson and has spread all over has gotten a lot of, at least in my experience, a lot of backlash, like I said, from people with disabilities.  From the whole joining with, you know, why are you making such a big deal of race, this has nothing to do with race, even to attacking and questioning the whole Black Lives Matter.  And I think some of that is fueled    I think what people need to realize, especially when it comes to disabilities, that there is an equality in disability in matters of education, black and brown, folks of color and they’ll be less likely to have access to education, less likely to have access to good healthcare, will be more likely to be in a situation where in school we’re going through the whole pipeline to prison situation.  So that while that affects disproportionately people with disabilities within that group, it affects very disproportionately black folks, people of color.  And.  That’s kind of the    so, as a person identifying both as someone with a disability and someone who is black and looking at the whole racism, it is something that we definitely need to talk about.

We need talk about it plainly and without that defensiveness that steps in.  Unfortunately, it’s there.  And if we sit down as people with disabilities and talk about this and try to work this out, maybe, you knower maybe something    you know, maybe something positive will come out of this, and at the very least, we’ll understand, we’ll understand one another.

One of the first push backs that I experienced from the disability community from white folks with disabilities was with the whole Ferguson thing.  We kind of tried to make it about us.  And we kind of tried to derail that conversation, derail that whole thing.  And we have to be careful about that because the Ferguson, and the events that have sprung up, you know, around it, with Eric garner and [indiscernible] Rice, and John Crawford, and all the other folks.  It’s a conversation that still needs to be centered around [indiscernible] black folks.  And I get too often.  And I have been a bit guilty of it myself.  That we try to make this about people with disabilities when that conversation needs to be had.  We know that people with disabilities are killed by the police, brutalized by the police.  Once again, disproportionately they are black and people of color.  And the whole Black Lives Matter, I say all lives matter.  I have recently written a blog post about this.  My thing is that that is a manifestation of some defensiveness.  We black folk and we disabled folk, and black disabled folks, we know that our lives matter.  What needs to happen is that for other folks to know that Black Lives Matter.

and we don’t want the silence, we want it to be centered    you know the intersection of race and disability is just, I don’t know for me its kind of hard to separate out the two.

I have to figure out if there’s discrimination, where is it coming from, is it coming from the fact that you see me in my wheelchair or my cane, or coming from my skin color?

90% of the time it’s coming from my skin color.  It has nothing to do with disabilities.  But sometimes it’s tied up in it.

And so this is a conversation that needs to be started.  It should have long been started.  I don’t think that we can hide anymore.  I don’t think that we can brush this under the rug anymore.  Certainly events in Ferguson, events in New York, events all over the country, even events here in Denver.  Here in Denver our police department is    they’re legendary for murdering and brutalizing black and brown bodies to the point where there’s all kinds of investigations    black and brown bodies.  Kinds, settlements, and we have had our share of protests here in solidarity with Ferguson.  I think the really unique and cool thing about Denver is now the youth, the high schoolers, are deep into this.  When it kind of first started out, it seemed to be a white led thing.  And I found that kind of odd.  But it’s evolved into now definitely a more multifaceted.  But we have youth involved in this and some rather young.  I am proud of that.  Those youth, some of them I know, many of them are people with disabilities, so I think that’s noteworthy.  That’s really, that’s great.  It’s heartening.

One of the things that, it’s kind of hard for me to separate racism from ableism.  That happens.  And some of the ableism is our own internalized ableism for disabilities.  And it almost goes hand in hand with the whole racism thing.  As I said, it’s a tough subject.

A tough subject to discuss because, as I said, it’s something that we    I hardly hear about.  I hardly see.  I am at the edges of so many things.  I listen to and the whole disability and racism thing is usually brought up by and people of color.  I don’t hear much of it from our white allies.  And maybe that’s where we need to start this.  One thing that we can start doing is our white allies in the disabilities rights movement, maybe that’s the situation where let’s talk about that more.

You know.  Let’s    let’s do more concrete things to address that and to try to    for lack of a better term, eradicate that, from our circles because we [background noise] if it’s not addressed, we don’t do anything about it, we’re kind of, what can we say to non-disabled white allies or non-disabled people of color.  What can we say if we’re not doing anything about it in our movement.  If we’re not taking a look at our own house and saying that that this is why, and we can no longer sweep it under the rug, and we have to address it and take steps to deal with it.  So I am going to stop right here.  I am going to end it here.  Once again thank you.  And I would really like to be more on this    see more on this, and start that conversation on what are we going to do about this.  How do we tackle this.  Thank you.

>> Jessica: Thank you so much, Anita.  This is Jessica.  I am really grateful to you for sharing your experience.  You know I think it’s so critical for us to hear your experience of racism in disability rights.  And at the same time, you have a great point.  It’s not right that it’s people of color who are bringing it up.  And for myself as a white ally, and for others, to remember that this is a problem, an issue for all of us.  We all have some responsibility to figure out what our role is.  One other comment I wanted to make.

A couple things that I have been hearing from folks that I find really useful.

The other day I was fortunate to hear Alisa Garza speak.  In the list of resources we’ll include an article from her.  She was one of the people who came up with the term Black Lives Matter and the hash tag and has gotten that moving.  There’s a lot I can say about her, but you can read about her late, if you have not already, but I am sure many of you have.  She was talking about being uncomfortable and this is a time where we all should be uncomfortable and be okay with that.  To not try to make ourselves feel okay with this, and these are really hard issues.  She was talking about some of the actions.  Where streets have been blocked, people haven’t been able to get where they wanted to go, and the people talk about, well, why does it have to be so inconvenient.  She was saying justice is inconvenient.  She said racism hasn’t been convenient for people of color for hundreds of years.  So I thought that was powerful to me.  I wanted to share that with you.  We just have a couple minutes left.  I want to turn it back to our speakers.  If you have some thoughts on kind of where people may go from here as far as conversations or actions that we can be taking together or in our communities?

>> Female Speaker: Jessica,

>> Jessica: Yes.

>> Beverly:  I am really grateful for this conversation to take place because I saw some things happen to me when I suffered from my brain injury and several of the police officers that lived in the town I used to live in asked me if I was drunk.  It was like, no, I am not drunk.  I just have a mobility issue.  And sometimes it’s really hard to talk when you are recovering from a brain injury.  And also several members from my church, who are African American, were abused by police in that town also.  It’s very upsetting.  Think we all need to do something within our community to show that everyone matters.  Not just    but it’s really bad to see what is happening in Ferguson.  But I know that we need to really look at everyone as everyone’s life matters.  I am just very grateful that it’s taught me a lot.

>> Jessica: Okay.  Thank you, Beverly.  We just had about a minute left.  So there is obviously a lot of conversations that we could have and need to be having.  One thing I will ask of participants is if you can send me an e mail or post something on the LISTSERV or FaceBook, if you want to set up separate calls, and maybe not the regular Organizers Forum time, but we can continue to talk about issues with this group, or if you have other ideas of what you would like to do on this issue.  So with our last minute, I want to ask India, Karla, and Anita for specific suggestions of kind of what people can be thinking about doing or if you have any final thoughts.

>> Anita: I am going to devote my final thought to the comment that was just made.  I literally just wrote a blog piece about this all lives matter is true.  It is.  We know that as people with disabilities.  Black folks and all.  I think what we need to do at this point is look at this from the centers of black folk.  We know our lives matter.  I think [indiscernible] in general don’t realize that Black Lives Matter.  Black Lives Matter, but there’s no equality.  There’s never been equality.  I don’t expect it in my lifetime.  We are subject to more things than    things happen disproportionately in our communities and that’s why there’s the whole Black Lives Matter.  And I am going to urge people to    I am going to urge people in a very respectful way coming from me to please honor that and respect that and center that around what’s going on now.  And I think that’s it for me.

>> Jessica: Thank you, Anita.  It’s okay for us to send out your blog piece so people can read that?

>> Anita:  Yes, please.  Because I have a number of blog posts that speaks to these very topics so, please do.

[Indiscernible].  [Missed That Spelling].”

 

>>CART Captioner: I am okay for a couple minutes.

>> Jessica: Thank you.

Let’s hear briefly from Karla and India and we’ll be done.

>> Karla:  Just really feel this is a defining moment historically and in speaking to those of us who are white, it’s not a time to sit on the side lines.  It’s a time to step up and take responsibility for our part in this.  Support efforts that are led by people of color in your own community.  And take action to bring more white people into action and surge is happy to help people to do that.

>> India.  I definitely think it’s important to do some work to educate yourself.  Whether that’s reading or meeting with people whether you are white or meeting with others and finding communities that are similar to you that have conversations about race.  .  I am going to second what Anita said.  That.  It’s important to remember that Black Lives Matter and sit with the discomfort that that bring up and the desire to jump to all lives matter.  Examine la is happening for you there.  That’s really rich ground for you to do some work for yourself.  Both work about healing whatever components are showing up for you, where you don’t feel like you or your communities have mattered.  And then also addressing racism and what, what’s happening to black people and how you are involved in that.  So I think those are a couple of things that you can do to continue to be involved.  I encourage everyone to, when discomfort comes up, change it to inquiry.  Look at what’s happening there.  And definitely read the resources that we send out.  And continue to have these conversations.  And it’s important not to just have these conversations with your own community, but to turn to black leadership and to have these conversations across with people who are not like you and to really listen.  And to take in what they’re saying.  Thank you.

>> Jessica: Thank you everyone.  On that note, we will leave you all.  Thank you for participating and we look forward to hearing from you to continue these conversations.  Bye, everyone.

>> Female Speaker: Thank you, so much, Jessica.  Bye bye.  [Call complete].