From the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC)
Our nation’s recent and unexpected presidential election results will lead to a great deal of unknowns for people with disabilities. It is too soon to determine the exact impact the new administration will have on disability rights and the Independent Living Movement, but we can look to the divisiveness in the campaigns, and the current fear and protests to understand that we have a lot to be concerned about.
The Disability Rights Movement is a civil rights movement for everyone. Anyone who lives long enough will experience some sort of access or functional limitation in their lifetime. We value and derive power from the fact that we are everywhere. Our community crosses all lines, and the “disability vote” was cast for all candidates.
As a movement created by, for and about people with disabilities, this election offers us the opportunity to reflect on the diversity of our experiences as a community, our intersections across communities, and the critical aspects of independence and interdependence in our daily lives.
The disability community prides itself on doing things differently, adapting to change and getting on with living our lives. Our movement was founded on liberty, freedom, justice, and human rights. We will not allow fear, discrimination or hate to tear us down or pull us apart.
The presidential campaign drew upon deep chasms of dissatisfaction with our political system—one in which many voters sought change after years of feeling forgotten, lied to, neglected and ignored. Many people in America are feeling the sting of ableism, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-semitism, ageism, religious persecution and anti-immigration sentiments that emerged as a result.
The Disability Community suffers from the stigma of being mocked, and the denial of opportunities for education, employment, transportation, housing and healthcare. Our money is often turned away due to a lack of access in storefronts, hotels and restaurants. It is simple to see that we have a long way to go to achieve true access, equality and independence in America.
The battle for independence, economic justice and the alleviation of poverty lies in the road to employment. Yet the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities is a dismal 20% compared to 68% for people without disabilities. The poverty rate of people with disabilities is 28% compared to 12% for the non-disabled. Clearly, we have work to do!
The California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC) is doubling down on our values of community, inclusion and justice. We commit to protecting and promoting policies, programs and services that increase access and equality for people across all disabilities, ages and ethnicities, sexual identities, genders, citizenship and religious beliefs. We commit to connect our agenda to like communities to build our power and help define the policies and programs that will impact our lives, and lead us to true independence, freedom and equality.
We remain resolved to ensure that nothing about us, happens without us!