I was recently reminded of the 10 Principles of Disability Justice.
If you will, a manifesto about what disability justice must include in order for it to indeed be about justice. I'd come across it what feels like years and forever ago, and it had meant the world to me - it made me feel seen, heard, cared for.
This time around, I read through them because I needed to make sure I was still in agreement with them, and, well, sometimes we change in ways that we don't always recognize. Hence, it felt essential to check in with them before affirming that I stand behind these 10 Principles for Disability Justice.
And you know what happened?
Just as when I first stumbled upon them, I once again felt seen, heard, and cared for. I felt affirmed that, yes, others see these truths too. I am not alone in believing that not only can we do better, but that we must do better for all humans - not just the ones that exist in straight, white, and often wealthy able-bodied/minded humans.
And I was reminded of life before I came across them, when I was living in a newly (once-again) disabled body, feeling alone and fighting against a lifetime of internalized ableism. I remembered that jolt of realization that I was harming myself by agreeing with the capitalist notion that productivity was how I should be measuring my success in life. I remembered feeling mad as hell at my internalized ableism. I remember feeling sad that the world we live in is, well, the world we live in.
I remembered why I've decided to let Grace and Magic align itself fully into the space where those of us living within our limitations reside - those of us seeking to accept our wholeness, in spite of our 'broken' parts.
And I smiled.
All feels like it's falling into place here.
I am grateful for that.
So, without going on further, let me share with you these 10 Principles of Disability Justice. They are as follows, as articulated by Patty Berne and Sins Invalid:
"1. INTERSECTIONALITY Simply put, this principle says that we are many things, and they all impact us. We are not only disabled, we are also each coming from a specifc experience of race, class, sexuality, age, religious background, geographical location, immigration status, and more. Depending on context, we all have areas where we experience privilege, as well as areas of oppression. The term “intersectionality” was frst introduced by feminist theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 to describe the experiences of Black women, who experience both racism and sexism in specifc ways. We gratefully embrace the nuance that this principle brings to our lived experiences, and the ways it shapes the perspectives we offer.
2. LEADERSHIP OF THOSE MOST IMPACTED When we talk about ableism, racism, sexism & transmisogyny, colonization, police violence, etc., we are not looking to academics and experts to tell us what’s what — we are lifting up, listening to, reading, following, and highlighting the perspectives of those who are most impacted by the systems we fght against. By centering the leadership of those most impacted, we keep ourselves grounded in real-world problems and fnd creative strategies for resistance.
3. ANTI-CAPITALIST POLITICS Capitalism depends on wealth accumulation for some (the white ruling class), at the expense of others, and encourages competition as a means of survival. The nature of our disabled bodyminds means that we resist conforming to “normative” levels of productivity in a capitalist culture, and our labor is often invisible to a system that defnes labor by able-bodied, white supremacist, gender normative standards. Our worth is not dependent on what and how much we can produce.
4. CROSS-MOVEMENT SOLIDARITY Disability justice can only grow into its potential as a movement by aligning itself with racial justice, reproductive justice, queer and trans liberation, prison abolition, environmental justice, anti-police terror, Deaf activism, fat liberation, and other movements working for justice and liberation. This means challenging white disability communities around racism and challenging other movements to confront ableism. Through cross-movement solidarity, we create a united front.
5. RECOGNIZING WHOLENESS Each person is full of history and life experience. Each person has an internal experience composed of our own thoughts, sensations, emotions, sexual fantasies, perceptions, and quirks. Disabled people are whole people.
6. SUSTAINABILITY We learn to pace ourselves, individually and collectively, to be sustained long-term. We value the teachings of our bodies and experiences, and use them as a critical guide and reference point to help us move away from urgency and into a deep, slow, transformative, unstoppable wave of justice and liberation.
7. COMMITMENT TO CROSS-DISABILITY SOLIDARITY We value and honor the insights and participation of all of our community members, even and especially those who are most often left out of political conversations. We are building a movement that breaks down isolation between people with physical impairments, people who are sick or chronically ill, psych survivors and people with mental health disabilities, neurodiverse people, people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Deaf people, Blind people, people with environmental injuries and chemical sensitivities, and all others who experience ableism and isolation that undermines our collective liberation.
8. INTERDEPENDENCE Before the massive colonial project of Western European expansion, we understood the nature of interdependence within our communities. We see the liberation of all living systems and the land as integral to the liberation of our own communities, as we all share one planet. We work to meet each other’s needs as we build toward liberation, without always reaching for state solutions which inevitably extend state control further into our lives.
9. COLLECTIVE ACCESS As Black and brown and queer crips, we bring flexibility and creative nuance to our engagement with each other. We create and explore ways of doing things that go beyond able-bodied and neurotypical norms. Access needs aren’t shameful — we all function differently depending on context and environment. Access needs can be articulated and met privately, through a collective, or in community, depending upon an individual’s needs, desires, and the capacity of the group. We can share responsibility for our access needs, we can ask that our needs be met without compromising our integrity, we can balance autonomy while being in community, we can be unafraid of our vulnerabilities, knowing our strengths are respected.
10. COLLECTIVE LIBERATION We move together as people with mixed abilities, multiracial, multi-gendered, mixed class, across the sexual spectrum, with a vision that leaves no bodymind behind.
This is disability justice. We honor the longstanding legacies of resilience and resistance which are the inheritance of all of us whose bodies and minds will not conform. Disability justice is not yet a broad based popular movement. Disability justice is a vision and practice of what is yet-to-be, a map that we create with our ancestors and our great-grandchildren onward, in the width and depth of our multiplicities and histories, a movement towards a world in which every body and mind is known as beautiful."
I'm curious, have you read these 10 Principles for Disability Justice before?
Would you add anything? Remove or edit anything?
I'd love to hear your thoughts please!