This piece is specific to the US, however it is relevant to countries that have been colonized that remain under occupied rule, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
I am on Indigenous land, on occupied land of the Duwamish Peoples to be exact. I am the child of immigrants from a war-torn country, Eritrea, who were moved on to this occupied land by the colonizers who both forced them off of their own and onto someone else’s. I use US currency, engage in an economic marketplace that was built on the backs of enslaved Africans, and is sustained by poor Black, Brown, Native and Undocumented people. And, it should go without saying that all of these communities have disabled members, who are denied access to physical spaces that are either theirs and/or exist at their expense.
This is often forgotten in conversations about accessibility, and goes completely unacknowledged in mainstream disability rights movements. Accessibility is a matter of racial justice. Denying disabled people of color free access to these spaces is not only ableist; it is a part of colonialism. It is another way by which bodies of color are reminded of systemic power imbalances, reinforcing white supremacy and privilege.
I urge all organizers to think about this. Consider what it means to have an inaccessible event on occupied land in a country built by Black slaves. I urge you to think about disability intersectionally. You cannot be an inaccessible event and be disability oriented, nor can you be anti-racist, queer, feminist, anti-classist, or any other form of anti-oppressiveness. Accessibility is fundamental to dismantling systems of oppression. It isn’t just some added bonus.