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Disability

Police Violence Against People With Disabilities

Latrea Wyche/Contributing Writer

In recent months, law enforcement across the country has come under fire for incidents of police brutality within African American communities. The brutal death of George Ford has caused America to take a closer look at the people who are armed with the charge of “protect and serve” but instead chooses to shoot and kill. Police brutality is nothing new, and this not just an African American thing, people with disabilities have had to deal with some of the same treatment. According to a report done by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability organization, proposes that while police interactions with minorities draw increasing scrutiny, disability and health considerations are still neglected in media coverage and law enforcement policy. I know you are probably sick of me making everything about people with disabilities, but these are the un-talked about issues that our community faces on a daily, basis but yet, they receive no attention.

When police officers encounter a person with a disability, they do not have the proper training to handle the situation. That’s where it all starts, training. with such a large population of disabled people in America, it would seem like common sense to me, for police officers to receive some type of training on how to handle a person with a disability. For example, when arresting a deaf person or a person with a hearing impairment, cops should not cuff them with their hands behind their back because in most cases, they use their hands to communicate, it would be kinda difficult to communicate with their hands behind their back. Another question how many police forces in America offer basic sign language courses, some would argue it would be a waste of time, but you never know as a cop when you might have to stop a deaf person, and just imagine how much more comfortable that person would feel knowing that you are able to communicate with them.

According to a database maintained by The Washington Post, in 2018, at least 139 people with mental illness have been shot and killed by cops. based on the research I conducted, a large number of people with disabilities that are killed by cops have some form of mental illness. “Police have become the default responders to mental health calls,” write the authors, historian David Perry and disability expert Lawrence Carter-Long, who analyzed incidents from 2013 to 2015. They propose that “people with psychiatric disabilities” are presumed to be “dangerous to themselves and others” in police interactions. So, the question now becomes what do we do with this information, how do we use this information to better our community…..knowledge is power the more knowledge we have the more powerful we are.

Latrea Wyche

IG: coachLatrea79

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coachlatreawyche@gmail.com

Black Disabled: our place in Hollywood and Mainstream Media

Latrea Wyche/Contributing Writer

This article came from two very different places: one, me sitting at home watching a program on BET called “Black Girls Rock.” While watching this show I began thinking, why is there no representation of African-American women with disabilities, or just African Americans with disabilities period represented in mainstream media or in Hollywood. The more I thought about it the angrier I became. As an African-American woman with a disability, I want to see all aspects of me represented – and this includes in the mainstream media and Hollywood.

Sometimes I feel that African-American Hollywood events are not welcoming of African-American people with disabilities. By not actively promoting that African-American, disabled actors to play character roles of a disabled person, Hollywood continues to give an inaccurate representation of African-Americans with disabilities and takes away jobs from African-American actors with real disabilities. For example, Ray: The story of Ray Charles, Ray Charles was played by Jamie Foxx who did a wonderful job, but why couldn’t the director find an actual African American blind actor to play the part? think about how much more realistic it would have been because you would have received the experience first hand of what a blind person in the music industry deals with verses a representation of a blind person.

To me that like choosing a caucasian to play a role that was meant for an African American actor, a caucasian person has no idea what’s it is like to be black just like an able body person has no idea what it’s like to be disabled. Think of the little African American disabled children that seeing someone that looks like them on the screen, which gives them hope that it could be them one day.

My second reason for writing this article is, the feeling like I am not accepted by my culture because I am disabled. which would explain why there is no representation of African Americans with disabilities in mainstream media or Hollywood, because we are not accepted in our own culture. This not me having a pity party for myself as some would think or me feeling sorry for myself. The above statement is based on my first-hand experience and not just my experience but the experiences of many African Americans with disabilities. When I make statements like that, I usually get “don’t lump us all in the same category” or my personal favorite “some may not understand disability,” it’s 2020 we all have resources available at our fingertips to educate ourselves about various disabilities, not understanding is no longer an excuse.

Latrea Wyche

IG: CoachLatrea

Facebook: Latrea Wyche

coachlatreawyche@gmail.com

Black and Disabled in America: The unheard population

Latrea Wyche/ Contributing Writer

This is an issue that I have been speaking on for years, the struggle of being a woman of color, and having a disability. The experience of disability is different for members of the African American community, just as I am sure the experience of disability is different for the members of various other sub-communities. For the sake of this article, we will be focusing on the African-American community. From birth, African- Americans are born into a world that does not make all needed resources available for them to flourish and succeed the way other groups have. There is a link between students with no-apparent disabilities, (I want to pulse right here for a minute, just because a disability is not apparent does not mean that someone does not have one. The thing that people need to understand about disability, is it manifests itself in various forms. We are not always going to be able to look at a person and recognize whether or not they have a disability). where there is also and over-classification of impairments with challenging behaviors that place them on the fast track of the “school to prison pipeline”.

For those who are not familiar with the “School to Prison Pipeline”, this system is defined as the disproportionate tendency of minors and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to become incarcerated, because of increasingly harsh school and municipal policies. We already know that more than half of the prison population are African- Americans males. Every 1 out of 15 African- Americans males are imprisoned each year compared to 1 in 106. It has been learned that 1 out of 3 African- Americans males can expect to go to jail and some point in their lifetime. Our society focuses on the word “criminal” not really trying to gain an understanding of the larger issue that lies within these institutions. A surprising fact that I just learned while doing this research, 60% of the inmate population has some form of a learning disability. The struggles inmates face on a daily basis vary, however, they share the common experience of having their disability either undiagnosed or ignored. In many cases we see inmates being reprimanded and disciplined for inappropriate behavior and not following rules and regulations of the facility. Most of the time their physical or cognitive impairment is not taken into consideration and unfair punishment is served. This again highlights the school to prison pipeline due to the simple fact that while attending school their disabilities went unnoticed or diagnosed incorrectly. This inmate population is then composed of a group of African-Americans who are left to navigate their world with a known or unknown impairment whether it is physical or cognitive.

The next question becomes what can we do about this? I believe that prison reform is just one part of the problem, we have to also look at our education system as it relates to disability and preparing children with disabilities for the real world, Are we providing them with the tools and techniques needed to survive in this ever-changing world?. Another piece to this puzzle is home life, as an African-American parent of a child with a disability what are you instilling in that child? What are you telling that child about him or herself? And lastly, as a community, we need to become more educated about disability. It is 2020 there no reason that we should still be using the excuse that “I don’t understand disability.” These are some of the things to think about as we continue to move toward the future.

Latrea Wyche

IG: Coachlatrea79

Facebook: Latrea Wyche

email: coachlatreawyche@gmail.com

When Race and Disability Intersect

Latrea Wyche/ Contributing Writer

Lately, I have been researching the topic of race relations as applies to people with disabilities. As a woman of color who happens to have multiple disabilities, I connected with my race and my culture before I even knew what the term disability meant. As a matter of fact, as a kid, the word disability was not used in my home. That’s a conversation we will have in another post. At any rate, while conducting my research there was one word that continued to show up in every search; Intersectionality, this was not a word that I was familiar with so I decided to look it up. According to Oxford the word internationally refers to the interconnected nature of social categorizations, such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating an overlapping and interdependent system of discrimination. A person belonging to more that one sub-group where they face discrimination, for example being gay and black both of those sub-groups deals with discrimination in one form or another.

The question remains, what does this all have to do with disability and race? According to the CDC, one out of every four African American adults has a disability, which means that one out of every four adults belongs to two sub-groups that deals with discrimination, not only are they African Americans but they also have a disability. The challenges of being a part of a group that is being discriminated against can intensify when an individual faces multiple biases simultaneously. In these instances being disabled may not be the biggest barrier to community inclusion.

Disability Pride can be tested when a person is seeking to honor and balance all the identities that make him or her a unique individual. Some identities create barriers to disability services, while others further exacerbate exclusion and identification of people with disabilities, this the case in point for undocumented immigrants. People who fit in this category, may not be eligible for all of the services they need, based on the fact that they are not a US Citizen which means family supports are often required to supplement care even when disability stigma exists within the family or culture.

Latrea Wyche

IG: Coachlatrea79

Facebook: Latrea Wyche

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