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Race + Disability

In 2016, disability advocate and activist Vilissa Thompson started the hashtag #DisabilitySoWhite and catalyzed overdue conversations about race and intersectionality in the disability community.  This issue is not new, it’s been an open secret for many years that people of color with disabilities are not always well served by mainstream disability services and supports.

In 2020, FISA wrote to its grantees focused on disability and invited conversation about racism and racial justice.  (excerpt)

It is a painful fact that racism is embedded in every single system, and that good intentions are not remotely sufficient to dismantle the ways that discrimination plays out every day. Our silence has caused pain and suffering and has disadvantaged Black people and other people of color who live with disabilities or who are family members or service providers. This moment calls us to step forward, to be honest and have vulnerable conversations about systemic racism, and then to commit to driving real change. 

In the many months since, the conversation has deepened to include explorations of how racism and ableism intersect, how this shapes the experience of people of color with disabilities, and what advocates and nonprofits can do to cultivate justice and equity.  

As FISA learned, we implemented a number of changes:

Race and Disability: A New Reckoning

FISA Foundation was proud to share our journey as part of the Chronicle of Philanthropy explainer: Race and Disability: A New Reckoning. Grant makers are awakening to the role that disability has in equity campaigns.  We hope that philanthropy, in partnering and supporting disability advocates, can address the intersection of race and disability and redress the inequities that  people of color with disabilities experience.