Equity Conference 2022: Conversation with Activist, Writer Imani Barbarin Highlights Disability Rights
Throughout the year, CFA will highlight sessions and conversations from Equity Conference 2022.
In Headlines this week, CFA features Crutches and Spice with disability rights and inclusion activist Imani Barbarin, co-hosted by CFA Disability Caucus Chair Leslie Bryan and Scott Hopkins, a professor of arts at CSU East Bay.
“What resonates with me is how (Barbarin’s) disability is not the predominate aspect of who she is and what she does. Her talk provided me with new perspectives in understanding the stereotypes we impose on those with a disability and that often times those assumptions are not who they truly are,” said Bryan, CSU San Bernardino lecturer. “Her story of trying to adapt to the image of ableism in order to make others feel comfortable connected with me in regard to how Black women have to navigate their own stereotypes to fit into the world we live and work in.
“Imani Barbarin’s intersectionality between these two worlds demonstrates the complexity of Black women and how what really matters is that we stay true to ourselves as we do our social justice work.”
Barbarin spoke to the intersectionality of being a Black woman who has a disability. The value of her work speaks for itself in this conversation in her ability to create space for engaging the disability community in the fight for social justice. She encourages moving toward freedom with no lesson plan and living unapologetically. Asking yourself “what are you not getting by not asking for help?” “What are you missing out on?” “Freedom,” she said, “starts with outperforming my own ableism.”
“I love talking about disability and how it interacts with my other identities. And it can be very difficult for people to understand that I am a whole person,” Barbarin said during her presentation. “If I’m sitting, they think of my skin color. If I’m standing with my crutches, they think of my disability. Only sometimes do they think of me as a woman. Very rarely do they think of me as a bisexual woman.
“When we talk about disability, it is really important to understand that the person before you with a disability is an entire person. There are different identities that live underneath this skin that a lot of people will not interact with or even acknowledge.”
Check out Barbarin’s session here; the Equity Conference video library is on CFA’s YouTube channel and the Equity Conference webpage.