As a disabled black woman, I know how hard it is to find your voice and know how it feels to have your feelings validated. I guess at 60+ years I can find new voices that can inspire me. But I have been hard pressed for validation…until now.
The Divas With Disabilities Project or DWD is bringing together women from all walks of life, to strengthen our voices.
DWD seeks to empower Black and Brown women and girls with physical disabilities by validating our images and amplifying our voices through various mass media platforms.
Even more, DWD aims to encourage us-Black and Brown women with physical disabilities- to find our voices and live out loud, unapologetically.
This is our first launch into the blogging world. It is our sincere hope that we are able to create a space for all divas with disabilities to come and feel free to be you.
We live in a world of competing ideas. One idea can be in fashion one day, and out of fashion by nightfall. I know to be black, female and disabled that my voice is rarely heard.
Few will argue about the role mass media plays in shaping our culture. So, this is why it is troublesome for us, when we are excluded from images that represent who we are.
Sadly, our voices are muted due to backward ideas about living with a disability. Women with disabilities, in general, and Black women with physical disabilities, in particular, are rarely seen on Television or cast in movie roles.
Moreover, our voices are not only muted but we are seldom seen in positions of power. If you are a wheelchair user, or if your speech is slurred you are looked upon as a child and not as a woman who is
worthy of respect. We are not seen as smart, or beautiful. Our culture does not see us as full- bodied women with needs and desires.
Other marginalized people demand a certain amount of respect. When the women’s movement started, white women who were on the front line fighting for gender equity. Later, Black and brown women demanded that their voices be heard, and they were welcomed to the table.
Today we see women from all backgrounds on the same page in the struggle, except women with disabilities. Our voices remain muted. And, even more sobering, our voices are sometimes muted within our communities.
The good news is change is on the horizon. Our voices are emerging. Some voices may not be as loud as others; some voices may be garbled due to speech impairments. But remember garbled speech is not equal to garbled thinking.
DWD calls forth Black, Brown, disabled, female voices, who are strong and proud to wear their disability boldly and proudly and who will not be held back by messages that dictate what our lives should look like.
Our voices are unmuted and true, because we emerging voices—divas with disabilities.
By Christal Hopkins