In this critical moment and movement, Accessibility and Disability Services affirms our solidarity with the Black community at UMBC and beyond. You matter. Your safety matters. Your health matters.
We mourn the Black Americans who have lost their lives to police brutality: George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, David McAtee, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Freddie Gray and too many others, including those whose identities include disability, such as Shukri Ali Said and Saheed Vassall (link).
American society and its institutions have yet to end the oppression of people on the basis of their race, religion, class, disability, and other aspects of their identities. We have miles to go and must not rest as we rise up as a nation and fully embody the self-evident truth of being created equally as humans that are entitled to full participation.
Student Disability Services (SDS), as part of Accessibility and Disability Services (ADS), works with members of the UMBC community to leverage our knowledge, skills and abilities to continue building more just communities and a society in which everyone can thrive with full inclusion of their race and ability. Given the experiences our work provides, we remain aware of how we must renew our commitment to challenging structural racism and white supremacy, and to advancing social justice with our work. We call out in solidarity:
I Can't Breathe: We remain horrified by police killings and brutality against the Black community that not only creates trauma and harm (which can result in disability), but perpetuates disability-based stigma, closeting and denial. The price for being Black and disabled is too high in the United States (link). Research on Policing at the Nexus of Race and Mental Health (link) underscores the need for more awareness and action. Media coverage on law enforcement use of force and disability also must improve (link) to end myths and stigma, while enabling belonging and awareness.
We Can't Breathe: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our national numbers are staggering. The Brookings Institute reports that the death rate from COVID-19 is disproportionately higher for Black and Latinx people in all age categories (link). The CDC highlighted how factors like residential segregation, service work/underemployment, and lower access to health care can result in adverse health outcomes, higher rates of hospitalization and death in communities of color (link). SDS staff are listening. We will seek opportunities to create inclusive and effective change as we continue our work with the students, staff, faculty and visitors who engage with our offices*.
We are encouraged and strengthened by University leadership:
UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous's Statement: This Time in America and
USM's Leadership Statement on Structural Racism and the Killing of George Floyd
- Center for Democracy and Civic Life