Identity Politics: A Healthy Love for Ourselves, Our Communities, and All People

We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.

This focusing upon our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression.

Source: The Combahee River Collective Statement – COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE

That’s what it boils down to. Who else is going to consistently, determinedly work for us but us?

We’re autistic.

We’re disabled.

The words autistic and disabled connect us with an identity, a community, and a culture. With identity politics, we work for community liberation and the liberation of all people.

Identity is the place to understand what forms of oppression are operating within your own life. From here, coalitions can be built with others who face similar forms of oppression, so long as it is also understood that oppression is not experienced the same across identities. This is where intersectionality, the theory developed by black feminist scholar and activist Kimberlé Crenshaw, is useful. It helps us to understand that class oppression will look different for those who also exist at the intersection of marginalized race, gender, and sexual identities. Any coalition worth forming has to take stock of those differences or suffer an agenda that is insufficient to liberating all people.

Source: What Liberals Get Wrong About Identity Politics | The New Republic

Given our racist, heterosexist, and ableist societies, we especially work for all when we center disabled Black women.

If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.

Source: The Combahee River Collective Statement – COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE

The ultimate goal of meaningful inclusion for the disability community will never be fully realized until black and brown people are also free.

Source: Racism and Ableism – AAPD

Here are some disabled and neurodivergent Black women and non-binary to follow:

Intersectionality and Professionalism

The Center for Intersectional Justice explains that one key aspect of recognizing intersectionality is “fighting discrimination within discrimination, tackling inequalities within inequalities, and protecting minorities within minorities.” If conversations about equity are not considering the intersecting identities of those involved in the planning and decision making individually and as a collective, then the question comes into play of whether equity can exist. The same holds true for conversations about accessibility and inclusion.

I envision a world that considers each part within the wholeness of an individual at all points of the lifespan. A world in which anti-racism and anti-ableism are a natural part of training, education, professionalism, and everyday interactions.

Source: Reflecting on ADA 30 While Reckoning with COVID-19 and Racism – Rooted in Rights

We too envision that world. Intersectionality and equity literacy are necessary professional development.

Previously,

Defining Equity and Inequity

Inequity

An unfair distribution of material and non-material access and opportunity resulting in outcome and experience differences that are predictable by race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, home language, or other dimensions of identity.

Source: Understanding Equity and Inequity (Certificate-Bearing)

Equity

A commitment to action: the process of redistributing access and opportunity to be fair and just.

A way of being: the state of being free of bias, discrimination, and identity-predictable outcomes and experiences.

Source: Understanding Equity and Inequity (Certificate-Bearing)


I really like those definitions of equity and inequity from the Equity Literacy Institute. They are a structurally aware call to action to relieve minority stress.