A Twin Call For Justice

A Twin Call for Justice

Disability Network Lakeshore (DNL) knows the devastating impact of “othering,” a term that encompasses the many expressions of prejudice because of an individual’s group identity. We denounce the prejudice of othering as it relates to ableism—of them versus us, and of patronization, pity, marginalization, and stereotyping. These negative constructs throughout time have cast a shadow on people living with disabilities and mental health conditions, and on those who love them. Many of the difficulties people with disabilities face are a result of attitudes and environments rather than with the disability itself.

Ableism is a subtle and pervasive bias that assumes non-disabled people are “normal” and people with disabilities represent an undesirable deviation from the norm and need to be “fixed.” Ableism is to disability as racism is to ethnicity, a set of beliefs or practices that devalue, discriminate, and oppress people with disabilities. This bias is often unconscious and is how we learn to treat the other and not include those who are different from us at the table for key decisions.

Adding to the bias of ableism, disabled people of color also are subjected to racism, a disease that has threatened us for over 400 years and continues to fester, create immense harm, and divide our nation.

Recent tragedies, acts of violence, and expressions of hate have highlighted the physical and emotional harm that results from the pervasive realities of racism and ableism.

Each of us is called to act now to heal, to mend, to cry out against injustice, whatever its form. No longer can society tolerate hatred, bigotry, and prejudice of any kind, and that requires us to be better and to find solutions that end the related violence and inequality.

DNL’s mission is to connect people with disabilities in Allegan and Ottawa counties to resources and opportunities while building communities where everyone can participate, contribute, and belong. The presence of people with disabilities and people of color positively affect and actually enhance the diversity of our communities. But how can everyone engage in this mission to “participate, contribute, and belong” if they’re viewed as other, as deficient, or as threats?

At DNL, our current national turmoil exposing racism ignites our good intentions to reclaim love, not hate; peace, not battle; justice, not indignation. Through our actions, DNL pledges to advocate for justice in our world, in our communities, and in our hearts. Will you join us?

—Board of Directors

Disability Network Lakeshore

June 22, 2020