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August 7, 2019Advocacy Matters

Advocacy Matters: A Response to a Weekend of Violence

August 5, 2019

#AdvocacyMatters Segment

A Response to a Weekend of Violence

The past weekend has seen a monumental amount of violence at the hands of White Supremacist Terrorists—and yes, this categorization is intentional. While this country is under siege due to this type of violence, many of our elected officials have decided to use the disability community as both scapegoat and pacifier. Blaming mental illness as a way to avoid the very real dangers of racism and xenophobia only further endangers those with complex mental health care needs. After each mass shooting, we contend with these stereotypes as they further marginalize those within our community. In many ways, our community has been complicit in the racism that inspires such horrific events by giving in to narratives of scarcity and promoting xenophobia as a method of getting politicians to look in the direction of disabled people. That is a dangerous game to play. We cannot allow mental illness to be further vilified and stigmatized and ideas of forcible institutionalization to be thrown about irrespective disability history and safety.

The Protection and Advocacy Network was created to fight against abuse and neglect and to respect the autonomy of disabled individuals. This country’s historical instinct regarding the disability community has been to lock away what we refuse to deal with and call it progress. It was institutions and the neglectful conditions in which they housed people with disabilities that spurred the creation of the National Disability Rights Network. We have fought to close these places and returning to an era in which this is routine would be inexcusable. We cannot force the disability community to pay for the sins we refuse to confront. As a community, we condemn this violence and demand that our leaders do something to combat this culture of racism that threatens so many. In the meantime, we will continue to fight for the wishes of disabled individuals.