Disability Justice: More Of A Link To Black Arts/Thought Movement Than The Disability Rights Movement

Leroy Moore picture with his shirt off looking into the camera.

(Photo by: Sins Invalid)

I think early Disability Justice, DJ, looks more like the Black Arts/Thought than anything else before DJ was kidnapped. I was there among others! Knowing that DJ came out from a cultural art project, Sins Invalid and continues with Krip-Hop Nation among others, the aim was community building and emppowerment not institutions like academia. At this point of time of my work has been focusing on the Black community in general because I think and have seen that the Black community is still far behind when we look at the advancement of the disability community that created disability rights movement, legal rights, organizations, disability studies, arts, music and models we use to view people with disabilities. My goal of my Ph.D. program is to open up what I call Krip-Hop Institute that I’ll talk about later in this essay.

There are differences between Black Arts/Thought and Disability Justice of course but the reasons why Disability Justice was born was the same frustration that our Black elders established Black Arts/Thought with our support and knowledge of disability rights movement and Black disabled activists who played a major role but just like Black people in general got sick of not seeing the advancement of Black community generally, facing police brutality and the promise of civil rights. Sins Invalid around early 2000’s, a group of disabled people of color also lived through high percentage of discrimination through institutions like police, schools, non-profit agencies, health care, housing and so on after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Just look at the cover of that civil rights law for Americans with disabilities and you see only White people with and without disabilities while President George W. Bush Sr. sign the law into existence.

Like Black Arts/Thought, Sins Invalid used arts and cultural expression to not only express our life but to build empowerment among Black and people of color with disabilities who are queer, transgender, straight and poor and our communities not about inclusion, it was and still is about building community pride and community institutions using the arts to see oneself as politically, culturally, historically and yes even radically that went beyond asking for civil rights and inclusion to look within as an individual and then as a community.

From Sins Invalid the reason why they/we started Disability Justice:

“because the Disability Rights Movement and Disability Studies do not inherently centralize the needs and experiences of folks experiencing intersectional oppression, such as disabled people of color, immigrants with disabilities, queers with disabilities, trans and gender non-conforming people with disabilities, people with disabilities who are houseless, people with disabilities who are incarcerated, people with disabilities who have had their ancestral lands stolen, amongst other

In the beginning and still now Sins Invalid used cultural expression to display their political stories in this new Disability Justice empower mirror by finding disabled ancestors from Audre Lorde to Brad Lomax to Black blind Blues artists to victims of police killings that were disabled etc.. As we know the following:

The Black Arts/Thought was an African American-led art movement that was active during the 1960s and 1970s. Through activism and art, BAM created new cultural institutions and conveyed a message of black pride. The movement expanded from the incredible accomplishments of artists of the Harlem.

We can see the same in Sins Invalid’s Disability Justice in the San Francisco Bay Area, Krip-Hop Nation and other early groups like Stacey Milbern’s Disability Justice Culture Club that she started in Oakland and Alice Wong’s The Disability Visibility Project which is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture. Sins Invalid, Krip-Hop and others early Disability Justice groups and artists are upholding a lot of movements and concepts that came from our White disabled rights and culture leaders like Steve Brown who have been writing about disability culture going back to the 1970’s and 1980’s and at the same time adding our art, music, plays, books, poetry, fashion, ancestors stories to Disability culture, arts, studies, Blues to Hip-Hop and more.

All of this, Disability Justice creates empowerment, pride and activism that can create in communities especially communities of color finally a welcoming mate and shift the outlook on disability then and only then DJ will make a change in institutions like in the media, higher education so we need more community spaces lead by DJ activists, artists and or scholars to help to continue what the original DJ founders had envision for Disability Justice aka community building.

This is where the vision of a Krip-Hop Institute comes in like the main vision of the Black Arts/Thought that created new cultural institutions and conveyed a message of black pride. Disability Justice and my involvement in it has led to thinking and vision of a physical cultural institution in the Black community aka the Krip-Hop Institute that can continue what Sins Invalid birth, Disability Justice with a Krip-Hop twist.

I have been really critical of the growth and hijack of disability justice. For the history of DJ go to sins Invalid.org. It just dawn on me that one of the huge pitfalls in Disability Justice from the beginning was and still is that it only includes disability philosophy like the models of disability and it’s pitfalls it didn’t use Black and POC philosophy and history to build DJ on and learn from and to look at the achievements of disabled POC in Black movements like Black Arts Movement and others. Basically DJ use only disability history, models and arguing for inclusion in only disability community…

We know about the Black radical tradition but do we know about Black disabled activism, art, music and international Black disabled movements?

AfroKrip, a term I,Leroy Moore, thought of (2016) to help united Afro disable people around the African diaspora associate to Krip-Hop during and after becoming politicized. As a Black disabled activist/artist living in America having a need and vision of connecting with other disabled artists/activists in the African diaspora realized there must be terminology that we can speak about our experiences. We also have to come up with our own words, original theory and politics to establish a framework to unlearn and relearn in our own empowering ways.

Now you might ask yourself, Leroy how can a person especially Black/Brown people, Black/Brown people with disabilities and the Black/Brown community make that leap from decades upon decades of abuse, erasure, hiding, exploitation etc that shaped our thinking around disability and has been internalized causing disempowerment of a disability identity to arrive at Krip-Hop Nation’s politics?

Of course it won’t happen overnight but we continue in this process by self-empowerment and correcting history in two ways, (1) Seeking out Black/Brown disabled people who have challenge the ableism in our Black/Brown community (2) after uplifting Black/Brown disabled community scholars men and women then self-education that I hope will lead to self empowerment that would lead to being politically/culturally disabled.

Being politically & culturally disabled goes deeper than just being disabled. This stage is still lacking not only in Hip-Hop but in our Black/Brown communities and institutions. Thus making the stage of becoming politically and culturally disabled not popular, lonely and a hard avenue to travel.

Just like Hip-Hop can and is being used to educate and inspire people
especially Black and Brown youth and adults, Krip-Hop can and has been doing the same with our own terminology like Krip-Hop, Black ableism and more also our politics, journalism, activism, and our upcoming Krip-Hop Nation Institute thus going back to the original mission of Disability Justice and that was community building especially in the Black and people of color communities with a combination of Black, disability theory, history, legacy of Black and disability movements with Disability Justice and Krip-Hop politics.

We have work to do!

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