All of us at the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council are outraged and in grief over the lives we’ve seen horrifically cut short. The tragedies against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Armaud Arbery and many other black lives are stark reminders that grave injustices remain built within our government systems. These systems discriminate and ultimately fail to keep our black community free from harm and abuse.
We have seen this sad truth played out among our black community with disabilities. Anywhere from one-third to half of those killed by law enforcement are people with disabilities. People with disabilities, especially those who are black or are people of color, are already overrepresented in Arizona’s criminal justice system, experiencing tougher sentencing when compared to other populations. And black students and people of color in special education have been disproportionately restrained, secluded, and expelled.
We must do better.
We join a multitude of voices in the disability community calling for an end to systemic racism against people with and without developmental disabilities.
We will continue to fight for more access and transparency in each government agency that interacts with the public.
We will continue to work with members of the criminal justice system and law enforcement to ensure all our people are safe and their rights are affirmed.
We will examine the similarities and differences between the ways white people and people of color with intellectual or developmental disabilities experience ableism. We can adopt systems and policy advocacy strategies that factor those differences to achieve progress for everyone.
We will improve our collection and analysis of data about racial disparity in access to services and supports for Arizonans of color with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
And most importantly, ADDPC seeks to amplify the voices of those who are too often unheard and denied a place at the table.
This moment is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Arizona and our nation. It’s up to us to keep the pressure on and put in the hard work for a more equal society over the long haul, even after headlines move on and trending topics change – so we’re asking you, the community, to join us and hold us accountable as we fight to build more equitable systems for black individuals and people of color who have disabilities in Arizona.