Latinxs with Disabilities Fight for Recognition, Intersection

This is a guest post by Arlene B. Mayerson, Directing Attorney at Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and a founding member of the Implicit Bias Network. 

A recent interview with the co-founder of a new national Latinxs with Disabilities advocacy group, Lisette Torres-Gerald, raises issues of interest to the National Implicit Bias Network.

The article announces an important intersectional coalition and a conference that Network members may want to attend. The article also has numerous examples of intersectional bias, without using the term “implicit bias”.

In the interview, Lisette shares:

I honestly do not think that Latinxs with disabilities are recognized in the broader disability community, other social justice movements, or even within the able-bodied Latinx community. That is why we created NCLD and why we want to be intentionally intersectional.

We want to raise awareness about the lived experiences and needs of Latinxs with disabilities. The reasons why we are rendered invisible and unheard are complex, but they definitely include ableism, racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.

Our NCLD research team wants to examine, document, and share the narratives of Latinxs with disabilities to unpack and unveil why Latinxs with disabilities are excluded in conversations around race and disability.

Persons with disabilities are often subjected to the “spread effect,” which is an aspect of implicit bias. People assume that an individual’s disability negatively affects other senses, abilities or personality traits, or that the total person is impaired. For example, many people shout at people who are blind or don’t expect people using wheelchairs to have the intelligence to speak for themselves.

People with disabilities also experience micro-aggressions and stressors every day.  One of the most insidious is pity. In addition to attitudes, there are physical and communication barriers which bar participation- “belonging”.   This “othering” is compounded by racial and cultural biases for people of color with disabilities.

The “Tearing Down Walls, Building Bridges: The Disabled Latinx Movement” conference, which will be held June 16-17, 2017, on the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, Calif., is co-hosted with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.