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Two brown skinned fists that have large hand rings across the knuckles. The first hand ring says NAMD is gold letters. The second hand ring reads ADVOCATES in gold letters.

The National Alliance of Multicultural Disabled Advocates (NAMD) is a group led by disabled Black Indigenous People of Color (B.I.P.O.C.) who came together and conducted a demonstration during the NCIL 2019 conference. Our purpose was to address the ongoing issues of racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, colonialism, and ableism in the broader disability rights movement.

It is past time for change. We can no longer tolerate being silenced, ignored, AND directly harmed/targeted by white disabled people. Disabled B.I.P.O.C., particularly black and brown disabled people, are disproportionately locked up in detention camps, jails, prisons, institutions, and nursing homes. Additionally, disabled B.I.P.O.C. are more economically disadvantaged by hiring practices in our own community and are rarely elevated into management and executive roles. The reasons for this are not for lack of people or talent but rather discrimination, tokenism, and systemic oppression. We can no longer ignore the pain and suffering of our people just to satisfy those who call for “unity.” We, the NAMD, must resist comfort and speak out about the discrimination and violence that remains rampant in disability organizations.

We were thrilled to see two black disabled people and one latinx person get voted onto the NCIL board in July 2019. But that is not enough. The -isms that have affected our community need to be eradicated. To be clear, our efforts are not just in response to NCIL and CILs, but our efforts are a call for accountability, action, and change from all white-led disability organizations. We are determined to ensure ALL these groups are inclusive of disabled immigrants, undocumented folks, LGBTQIAP2S+ folks, women of color, and B.I.P.O.C. We must see drastic changes in organizations that state they represent the disability community.

In the coming weeks, we plan to release a full set of demands that will help lay out the next steps for how disabled organizations can become more inclusive of ALL people, centering Black Indigenous People of Color with disabilities. In the meantime, below are the steps we expect organizations to start taking in the immediate future.

  • Develop a method to receive direct or anonymous feedback on your organization’s inclusion of disabled B.I.P.O.C.
  • Identify at least 2 annual professional development opportunities for your disabled B.I.P.O.C. staff that will advance the longevity of their careers. Provide support for them to attend/participate.
  • Ensure EVERY panel/event your organization hosts have a proportionate number of disabled B.I.P.O.C. invited and represented. Cancel any events until you are able to fulfill this requirement.
  • Determine at least one initiative that your organization can take a lead on that centers the experiences of disabled B.I.P.O.C.
  • Release a statement that shares your response to our concerns and your commitment to creating environments and initiatives that are inclusive of disabled B.I.P.O.C. We ask that this statement is short and to the point because, at this point, we need action more than words.

Finally, we invite disabled B.I.P.O.C. and those in pursuit of allyship to join us in our efforts to transform our movement and truly create inclusive environments.

Through everything, we commit to Martin Luther King Jr’s words: “No one is free until we are all free.” We will not back down. We will not remain silent. 

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