Disability Through Trauma (Reflections on Charlottesville)
By: Katherine Perez
(Originally posted on Katherine's FB page on August 14, 2017)
Disability does not have a race, class, gender, age, religion, nor political affiliation. People are born into our world, while others enter later in life through illness, accident, disaster, or war.
Today, I reflect on those who acquire disability because of trauma and violence fueled by hatred. Specifically, a hatred that comes from a system of white supremacy that continues to assault the bodies and minds of our non-white communities (including our Jewish siblings).
This entry into the disability world is a site of pain, anger, and sadness.
As someone who is proud to be both Disabled and Chicana, I don't shy away from this reality. This reality brings many of my Black and Brown hermanxs into my tangled identity.
When hatred leaves scars on one's body and mind, it is hard to derive dignity and pride from those scars.
In my work with the National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD), I often engage in conversations about how centering people of color in the Disability Rights Movement will necessarily shift the definition of Disability. In particular, I've had several important discussions with my mentor Jyoti Nanda, an attorney and academic who is writing about the Compton School cases in which a judge ruled that children who experience trauma in poor neighborhoods could meet the legal definition of disability. I also have discussed, strategized, and taken action with CNLD in protest of the inhumane conditions in immigration detention centers that traumatize and inflict bodily harm on our hermanxs. Through it all, I continue to realize how complex disability is.
Today, I condemn the white supremacists, neo-nazis and racists who have left serious physical and emotional wounds on those who protested against them. I join the racial justice community in calling out the structures of oppression that impact our bodies and minds.
I am also filled with hope that the disability community has also publicly denounced the violent, racially-motivated destruction that took place in Charlottesville.
Although the irony can feel unsettling, it doesn't have to be contradictory. I believe in a strong, cohesive disability community that fights against the racial injustice that perpetrates trauma on our bodies and minds, while also fighting for the right to feel pride to exist in these bodies and minds.
For those who enter the disability community because of trauma and violence, know that those of us who are Disabled recognize your pain, anger, and sadness. But also know that your scars represent your resilience in the face of bigotry. You are not less for your altered bodies and minds. You have a community that is ready to embrace you and show you that life with these bodies and minds is worth living and loving. And when you are ready, we need you in the disability community as someone with multiple oppressed identities to help push forward a more inclusive disability rights agenda that includes the fight against racism.
#Charlottesville #Intersectionality #Disability #DisabledLatinx
Coalición Nacional para Latinxs con Discapacidades