I wanted to start off by sharing a story. Below is an image of a black woman named Angel Love Miles who has spina bifida, a condition that affects spinal development in utero. Miles uses crutches or a wheelchair to get around.
Miles decided to attend Penn State University, which was a much different experience than her upbringing. During childhood, Miles went to a school with an accessible playground with wheelchair swings and places where she could get around with her mobility aids.
In contrast, at Penn State, waiting for a van for students with disabilities often made her late for classes. She was even told by a bus driver that they didn’t want her on the bus and drove away, leaving her there. Miles continued to advocate for what she needed and eventually finished college, followed by a doctorate in women’s studies. Today, she’s a social-justice advocate and policy analyst who specializes in intersectional and critical disability theory approaches (Shalene).
I hope Miles' story can inspire each of us to move in the direction–at our own pace–of our dreams and goals. Many of us, as did Miles, know that in order to survive, we need to become an advocate for ourselves. I emphasize ‘need’, because it isn’t a ‘want’ unfortunately.
Today, black people with disabilities are still doubly marginalized, through both racism and ableism (Shalene). Racism and ableism are similar in the sense that they foist society’s limitations—in imagination and in empathy—onto individuals who don’t look or act like everyone else (Shalene).
Black voices need to be elevated now and in the future. Self-education is paramount and with that, I’ve highlighted many black voices below. You will find a variety of resources, which are categorized by many options to learn.
By raising black voices, we are spotlighting the achievements that they’ve accomplished around the world, despite a long history of oppression and racism.
Organizations and campaigns:
Black, Disabled, and Proud offers resources to help connect BLM to disability resources, to help Black students with disabilities learn about intersections of disability and race in the movement, and to share resources about race and disability with police and security officers working with campuses and surrounding neighborhoods.
Black Girls Code builds pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programming and technology.
African American Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities provides awareness within the African American community of disabilities, utilize advocacy skills to provide a voice to African-Americans, work with partners, to provide direct services to folks affected by developmental disability.
Color of Change leads campaigns that build real power for Black communities. We challenge injustice, hold corporate and political leaders accountable, commission game-changing research on systems of inequality, and advance solutions for racial justice.
100 Black Men is an African American led mentoring organization to improve the quality of life within our communities and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African Americans.
Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in America.
Center for Black Equity promotes a multinational LGBTQ+ network dedicated to improving health and wellness opportunities, economic empowerment, and equal rights.
Museums and monuments:
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
African American Civil War Memorial Museum
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
Malcolm X Park (a.k.a. Meridian Hill Park)
The Bedford Stuyvesant Museum of African Art
Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI)
Studio Museum Harlem
The African Center
The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Act (MoCADA)
California African American Museum (CAAM)
The African American Firefighter Museum
Biddy Mason Park
The Underground Museum
Books, discussions, and biographies:
Black Disabled Art History 101 By Leroy Moore Jr.
Black Queer Freedom by GerShun Avilez
Black Power and the American Myth by C. T. Vivian
My Body Is Not a Prayer Request: Disability Justice in the Church by Amy Kenny
So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Keeping Black Boys out of Special Education By Jawanza Kunjufu
Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture by Racquel J. Gates
James Baldwin: Collected Essays (LOA #98) by James Baldwin
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
- Black Disability Activism | Black Freedom Lectures | Dr. Moya Bailey
- Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed tells the vast story of Juneteenth’s importance to American history and it’s future as a national holiday.
- African American Life in Washington, D.C. Before Emancipation
- The Role of the Federal Government in Black Education
- Revolutionary Movements Then and Now: Black Power and Black Lives Matter
Articles and blogs:
- Black, Disabled and at Risk: The Overlooked Problem of Police Violence Against Americans with Disabilities
- “The Beautiful Game:” Tribute to Pelé, a Brazilian football player
- Facial Hair Friday: Joseph Rainey the first African American in the House
- African American History at the National Archives
Radio, Harriet, I Am Not Your Negro, 13th, Do the Right Thing, 12 Years a Slave, Selma, Judas and the Black Messiah, Hidden Figures, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, Marshall, King in the Wilderness, Malcolm X.
Code Switch, Black History Year, Black History Podcast, Noire Histoir, Beyond Black History Month, Historically Black, Real Black History
- Gupta, Shalene. “Being Black and disabled is a constant struggle.” The Atlantic. Sept. 21, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/09/what-its-like-to-be-black-and-disabled-in-america/620070/. Inheritance.
- Photograph by Dannielle Bowman.
Macy Cassera is an ambassador and freelance blog writer for Slick Chicks. She has prior experience as a model in New York City for fashion, commercial and parts modeling. Macy combines these passions with mental health awareness to underpin our sense of self and strive for a world of inclusivity and equitable representation.