In this video, activist, writer of the popular Crutches and Spice blog, and Director of Communications at Disability Rights Pennsylvania Imani Barbarin discusses what drives her political activism. Imani explains that as a black woman with a disability, everything politicians and policymakers do impacts her life. But, too often, those same policymakers fail to reach out to people with disabilities, especially those who are people of color. Imani puts it directly, saying:
“I’m a disabled black person, so that means every single thing that happens in a legislative session… has an impact on my ability to move around society.”
She elaborates that “Everything about my politic is written on my skin,” and that is why “it is extremely important for people who are marginalized communities, in the disability community, in the black community, to vote wherever they can and whenever possible.” She discusses how she has realized, as she has gotten more involved in disability activism, that often people with disabilities are left out of the conversation by the lawmakers who are impacting their lives.
For this reason, she calls on politicians to: “Step down from their place of power to come to our communities and come to our spaces,” and she continues that means using plain language guides, using ASL and black ASL, and directly interacting with their most marginalized constituents. She explains that when politicians fail to make their platforms accessible, they are both unable to effectively get their message out and unfairly force people with disabilities to receive their political information secondhand.
She points out the problem of police violence against people with disabilities, noting: “30-50% of those who are impacted by police violence are disabled,” and asks everyone to: “make sure your pushing for accountability in police departments for disabled people, especially disabled people of color.” The video with Imani urging everyone to vote, despite the challenges that can be involved. She says: “I understand the burden it is to try and go out and figure out a way to vote during a pandemic, and we are all very, very scared. But the stakes are high. And I need as many people as possible to vote this November.”