On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the EUC held an event by Lydia X. Z. Brown; an Asian American autistic disability rights activist, writer and public speaker who was honored by the White House in 2013 and is currently the chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council.
The event opened with Brown inquiring whether or not the audience was familiar with the term ‘disability justice.’ It is a multi-issue political understanding of disability and ableism, moving away from a rights-based equality model and beyond just access, to a framework that centers justice and wholeness for all disabled people and communities.
Brown addressed what disability justice means, and how society views disabled people. She discussed the impact it has on the people with these disabilities and how these experiences have affected her, as she has a disability herself. As a person born with autism, she has firsthand experienced being looked down upon for her disability.
During the event, Brown discussed her experience with attempting to join an organization that was for people with autism, but was oppressed by other members there. According to Brown, she was not welcomed for being both Asian and queer. This caused her to seek out another path, away from the people that she had been oppressed by. She ended up founding her own organization, not only for people with autism but for anyone who is disabled and a part of the LGBTQ community.
Brown states that her goal was to help people like her, who were born different and oppressed for who they were. She wanted to make a friendly and safe organization for those who wanted to form a community while and meeting other people like themselves.
According to Brown, there are a lot of people in the U.S. that are either deaf or disabled, and these people with disabilities are often oppressed or incarcerated because of their differences. More times than not, deaf people are incarcerated because they are unable to communicate with police officers as they cannot hear. Because of their disabilities, they are often harmed in the process.
The presentation was not only about the prejudice and oppression against those with disabilities, but also about how we can correct them. She calls out to people to rise above these prejudices and to stop the oppression that many people with disabilities face.
Brown hopes to bring this message to everyone. If you are interested in learning more about disability justice, check out Lydia X. Z. Brown for more information.