Art Access - Black Lives Matter

Wednesday, 17 June 2020 16:21
Published in Blog


In light of the recent murders and deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Bernando Palacios-Carbajal and more, Art Access would like to issue a statement of support for the movement and demand for police reform being echoed around the world. As an organization that serves our disability community and other marginalized communities, we believe it is important for us to take a stand and take action in the face of injustice, racism, and violence. 

We support the movement to address police brutality and systemic racism in the United States and internationally. We know that #BlackLivesMatter and we also know that they are not treated as if they matter both here in our city, state, and beyond.

We want to acknowledge that police brutality is a critical issue in our disability community. According to a study done by the Ruderman Foundation, a third to one-half of all people killed by police are people with disabilities. “Disability intersects with other factors such as race, class, gender, and sexuality, to magnify degrees of marginalization and increase the risk of violence.”

To change the unacceptable fact that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and BIPOC individuals with disabilities do not have equal access to safety, justice, food security, housing, employment, education, and more, all of us must come together and fight for change. More, those of us who are white and privileged must actively participate in the movement to be anti-racist on an individual, organizational, and systemic level.

As the Executive Director of Art Access, I want to be transparent with you about our response to this movement. I have seen many organizations, companies, and individuals make public statements about their support of Black Lives Matter. I am thrilled to see the public outrage and support, however, that is not enough. I encourage every individual and organization making similar statements to publicly address their shortcomings, and their plan to actively participate in antiracism work. 

I acknowledge that Art Access has not done enough to address racism in our work and our organization. Our staff is all white or white-passing, and our board is almost entirely white or white-passing. While Art Access has done projects in collaboration with Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, we have failed to fully integrate these projects and partnerships into all areas of our work. We have not done enough anti-racism training for our board and staff, and have not engaged in enough intersectionality disability and racism work. These are failings for which I accept accountability.

Art Access will be moving forward taking the following actions to do more of the necessary anti-racism work on individual and organizational levels.

Individual Level

  1. We will be hiring an educator from the Black community who specializes in anti-racism and disability to do training on the intersection of racism and disability for our Board and Staff in August.
  2. We will be utilizing the National Council for Independent Living “We Can’t Breathe: The Deaf and Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project Toolkit” for discussion and training with our Board and Staff in September. 
  3. We will be having monthly conversations as a staff about different anti-racist topics with readings, videos, films, etc from leaders who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. 

Organizational Level

  1. We will be adding content on the intersection of race and disability and relevant issues of access to our Breaking Barriers curriculum 
  2. We will devote two of our six community accessibility workshops to topics addressing the intersections of disability and racism. 
  3. We pledge to ensure that our board is made up of a minimum of 30% of people of color by 2021.
  4. During plate pick up this weekend, we will be hosting a drive for masks and hand sanitizer to donate to Salt Lake COVID 19 Mutual Aid, that will be  distributed at protests to support the safety of protesters and prevent COVID 19 transmission.
  5. We will also be hosting a drive for kids games and art supplies and disinfecting supplies (household cleaner, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes etc), that will be sent with organizers supporting the COVID 19 outbreak in the Navajo Nation.

Readings/Resources on Disability, Racism, and Police Brutality

Harriet Tubman Collective:
A Collective of Black Deaf & Black Disabled organizers, community builders, activists, dreamers, lovers striving for radical inclusion and collective liberation.

WNYC The Take Away Segment

Ruderman Family Foundation Study on Disability and Police Brutality

National Council on Independent Living - “We Can’t Breathe - Deaf/Disabled Margin of Police Brutality Project”

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