Challenging White Supremacy in the
Disability Rights Movement & Disability Communities

A group of white disability activists have started a collaborative project to increase anti-racist politics and skills among white disabled people and in white disability community. Right now the collaboration includes Sebastian Margaret of Access Change, Aaron Ambrose, and Eli Clare among others. We kicked off the project by offering the workshop below in November of 2010.

If you're interested in this project, please contact Sebastian at accesschange7 (at) gmail (dot) com or Eli at eli (at) eliclare (dot) com.

Beyond the “R-Word”:
Exploring Racism within Disability Community

Description: For decades, the disability rights movement has protested and rallied against shame, isolation and the grinding realities of ableism. We have found each other against the odds, reveling in our sexualities, resistance, humor, history, and culture. Ignored by progressive movements, we have persistently demanded our right to access and inclusion. And yet we have evolved as a predominately single-issue movement that is informed by a white agenda. Lacking the analysis, tools, or the access to acquire them; racism persists in our struggle to have ableism recognized as a core social justice issue and impacts our capacity to build collective strategy with other liberation movements.

Grounded in the value of cross-disability work, this workshop is open to all disability community members and is designed to promote white anti-racism awareness within disability culture and resistance. Central to this work is a specific invitation to white disability community members/activists to gather for conversation, skill sharing, reflection, challenge, and change. Within a facilitated, disability-positive, and non-judgmental climate; we will examine how white privilege, and white supremacy play out in disability community and our activism.

Join us to begin, continue, deepen, and share your understanding, questions, and commitment. Let’s roll, shake, sign, blink, drool, stress, psych, slur, and shuffle our way closer to resistance and survival that embeds racial justice at its core.

Note: All the response and interest in this workshop is very exciting! We want to clarify a couple of things that have come up about the event.

This workshop will be creating space for white disabled and chronically ill people to work on recognizing racism within ourselves and its impact on disability politics and community. So, while we always appreciate the support and solidarity of our white able-bodied allies we ask that you don’t participate in this particular event.

We absolutely welcome people of color--both disabled and not--to this workshop if you wish to attend. We just want to be clear that the goal is about white disabled folk learning to recognize how white privilege operates in disability politics and culture; so we will be unpacking a bunch of stuff.

Because specific anti-racism work for white disabled people is so needed and has been largely absent from disability community conversations, we have created this workshop specifically for people who have lived experience of disability and/or chronic illness. However please know that wherever you happen to be in your own process of disability identity, you are welcome here.

Again thanks for your interest we are looking forward to meeting everybody and doing this work together.

Date: November 3, 2010, 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Where: Queers for Economic Justice, 147 W. 24th St., 4th Floor, New York

Sponsor: Queers for Economic Justice

Sebastian Margaret

portrait of Sebastian by Riva Lehrer

Sebastian Margaret is a disability justice community educator and capacity builder. Born and raised in Yorkshire, England. Sebastian currently lives in "New" Mexico and is kept deliciously exhausted parenting a couple of gorgeous kids and pays the bills working as a personal attendant and doing menial work.

He provides trainings on disability justice for movements, service providers, progressive organizations and community organizing efforts; while also working to build capacity, vitality and leadership within disability community. Sebastian seeks to insert disability justice into the progressive left and progressive multi–issue politics into the disability rights community.

Not formally educated and informed by a working /welfare class perspective. Sebastian roots his work in racial, class, gender, sexuality and immigration justice, working to be in solidarity with indigenous and sovereignty struggles. Sebastian is particularly invested in "the price o’ bread" politics where change is driven by the voices and agendas of folks most affected by the conditions that need to go.

Sebastian has co-facilitated disability justice, challenging white supremacy trainings and economic justice programming at Creating Change, the NGLTF annual conference, over the last five years. He has brought anti-ableism and disability justice work to Southerners On New Ground, the Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, and SRLP, and recently facilitated at statewide conferences including Minnesota Out campus conference, Michigan Coalition Against Sexual Violence, CLPP (MA) and the ACE Summit (NC).

Sebastian is a co-founder of the Disability Justice collective, a disability justice representative in the ROOTs coalition and is currently working on the development of anti-racism/challenging white supremacy workshops specifically for white disability community members and activists.