What is missing from the analysis of most left movements is analysis of disability that sees people with disabilities as full human beings. In the years that I observed left movements and listened to left intellectuals I have noticed an ignorance or avoidance of considering people with disabilities in their analysis. I soon gathered that there is a phobia on the left as there is on the right on integrating the lives of people with disabilities in their analysis of how they want to change society. This phobia stems from an inability to see people with disabilities as full citizens of society. Disability justice was formed to counteract this phobic philosophy.
Disability justice is a movement and a philosophy devised by people of color with disabilities in an attempt to have an analysis that accepts all people of differing physical, cognitive, and psychological abilities as having value and having a right to participate in society. The philosophy also states that everyone have multiple identities to contend with whether it is race, sexuality, gender identity, religious status, along with a persons differing ability and that every person has the right to bring their full selves in engaging in society. In summary, disability justice gives a basis of understanding of what we must do in this ableist, sexist, racist, hetero-sexist society that refuses to recognize the full identities of people that goes against the societal norms. Working with two pioneers of disability justice at Sins Invalid, Patty Bearne and Leroy Moore, I have gain more of an understanding of how we as people of color with disabilities can work with our temporary able-bodied brothers and sisters using our strengths to construct an environment that is fair and just for all of us.
Frankly a disability justice analysis can tie many struggles together and make cross building between left movements more easier. Ableism can be considered the basis of all other prejudices we encounter. It is implicit in racist ideology that dictates that dark skin people of African descent were somehow less intelligent then people of western European descent. It is also implicit in sexism in the concept that women are less suitable for some occupation than men, in hetero-sexism where people LGBTQI community are considered to have a biological or genetic disorder because they cannot conform to a heterosexual norm, and in the raising American nationalism that tries to ostracize everyone that is foreign to the Anglo-christian norm. All discriminated people in this country then have an unfair burden of proof put on them that puts them in a position of having to prove their worth.
Establishing ableism as a basis of most prejudice policies centers the phenomenon of disability as a common and important experience in human life. The point of disability justice is to make people realize all our bodies cannot fit in an ableist framework and only an acceptance and a celebration of all our bodies will lead to the freedom from oppression that we all desire. This is why it is important for progressive and radical intellectuals on the left to embrace disability justice because we cannot envision a society that is just and equitable for everyone without an analysis of how this society will be welcoming to everyone’s bodies.