Dear Friends and Colleagues:
As we celebrate Black History Month this February and contemplate the theme of “Black Resistance” for 2023, I can’t help but reflect upon the similarities between black resistance and the obstacles that people with developmental disabilities have faced in their quest for respect, dignity and self-determination. For Black Americans and Americans with developmental disabilities alike, the fight for justice and autonomy is one that continues to this day.
This month, we are honored to spotlight two Black Americans whose advocacy has had a lasting positive effect on our agency and the lives of people with developmental disabilities. We invite you to learn more about Mrs. Willie Mae Goodman and Chester Finn. Their lived experiences as Black Americans involved in the fight for disability rights offer unique perspectives that all of us can learn from.
As an agency, we are committed to fully embracing diversity, equity and inclusion, not just during Black History Month but all year round. A concept we are talking about a lot lately is “intersectionality.” It is a framework that refers to a person having more than one marginalized aspect of their identity. As a result, they can experience a unique system of oppression and disadvantage in their life due to those multiple identities. For example, a person with a disability may also be Black, a woman, or part of the LBGTQIA+ community. This month allows us to begin to look at intersectionality as it relates to being Black and a member of the disability community. Intersectionality is a concept that we hope to continue to delve deeper into as we explore the diversity within our service system and work together to ensure we have an equitable service system.
Kerri E. Neifeld Commissioner