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Recognizing & Honoring Black Lives

Illustration credit: Dadu Shin

This summer, we witnessed several events involving the intersections of Black, disabled and/or chronically ill identities. Here are three impactful stories, out of countless others:

A Teenager Didn’t Do Her Online School. So a Judge Sent Her to Juvenile Detention.

Southfield woman wrongly declared dead was in body bag for hours, attorney says.

‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman Dies of Cancer at age 43.

Each of these stories describes a tragedy. The first details a young woman who lives with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and her experience in the Michigan criminal justice system. The second details a young woman who lives with cerebral palsy and her experience with local emergency responders and a funeral home. The third details a famous middle-aged father who received a diagnosis of Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016, which ultimately claimed his life.

Each of these stories only provides a snapshot. However, after the publishing of the article about ‘Grace’, the teenager sentenced to juvenile detention, many rallied around her release and won; Timesha’s case, the story of the woman from Southfield, is ongoing. And there is an active petition to support her here. Lastly, Chadwick’s legacy paints a portrait of Black excellence--one courageous, powerful and limitless.

At Detroit Disability Power, we believe in uplifting acknowledgment, attention, love and respect of the disability and chronically ill community. We believe Black Lives Matter and that we must work to affirm this. Our efforts include honoring community members by highlighting stories, like the ones mentioned above, to shine a light on humanity, history, significance and value. To that end, please take the time to learn more about Grace, Timesha and Chadwick. They are our family, friends and neighbors. There is wisdom in their love, story and struggle.

Therefore, let these stories invite us to pause and ask ourselves: How did these individuals' disability, chronic illness or skin color impact how they were treated and why? Do you think disability or chronic illness was part of their personal or public identities? What can we learn from their experiences? And how can we dismantle systems of oppression to ensure that no one is discriminated against in school, the criminal justice system, healthcare or Hollywood?

Written by Jeffrey Nolish, Detroit Disability Power, Policy Director

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