Feature Issue on Disability Rights, Disability Justice

From the Editors

To understand how disability justice has transformed the Disability Rights Movement, consider how activist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha draws comparisons from environmental activism. Environmental justice goes beyond white people saving trees, she often says.

Street art/graffiti style illustration of a young autistic woman looking at the viewer.

“It’s about being Native and having a uranium mine on your sacred land. It’s about being Black, and everyone in your neighborhood in West Oakland has asthma.”

This issue of Impact explores what disability justice means for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD). It features programs working to empower people with IDD to share their stories and personal reflections on what disability justice means to individuals of different ages, races, and gender and sexual identities. And it puts these stories in the context of the broader Disability Rights Movement, which fights on for the inclusion of people with IDD in the community, in schools, in medical care, and beyond. Of course, meaningful community inclusion cannot happen without competent, professional support staff. Impact gathered key voices in the support workforce, including people who receive supports, to discuss whether unionization can help to finally lift poverty-level wages and benefits in the field. Also with this issue, we launch Impact, The Conversation, a new podcast series that will highlight a few articles from each issue of the magazine. A big thank you to our editors and authors who have joined us so far, including Nikki Villavicencio, T.J. Gordon, and Leigh Anne McKingsley.

Writing recently in her popular Disability Visibility Project blog, Alice Wong (read her article in this issue) encourages us to keep these conversations going.

“Disabled outrage is necessary and liberatory; it reveals the fissures in society and the consequences of structural oppression,” she wrote in the blog. “It comes from a place of hurt and injustice. It is resistance against erasure.”

Working together, the Disability Rights and Disability Justice Movements can harness this outrage into progress.