Updates from Access Living: Racial Justice Action


June 3, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Racial Justice Action

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

At this time, Access Living is currently engaged in increased work to support our staff and community members to center Black lives and the fight for racial justice. We know that many of you are also doing this work right now as well. Some of the ways we are doing this include:

  • Deeply listening to staff and community partners from communities of color
  • Holding online space for staff and community members to process emotions together, including space that is only for people of color
  • Making calls to support community members, especially those from marginalized communities
  • Shifting or postponing meetings to make space for the racial justice work needed right now
  • Supporting community members, including disability support workers, impacted by local mainline/paratransit shutdowns and pharmacy closures, as well as the curfew in Chicago
  • Amplifying Black voices on social media
  • Supporting and amplifying opportunities for neighborhood cleanups in Chicago
  • In addition to short term support, evaluating opportunities for longer term change to move Access Living to meaningful internal change and external partnership for racial justice

An example of a disability organization shifting to make space this week is ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, based in Chicago. They postponed an event about the census this week to allow for space and time for members to focus on racial justice and supporting our colleagues of color. See this link for their postponement as one example.

For those who choose to risk taking action on the streets: please take precautions to protect yourself and others from Covid-19. We realize that a number of people are taking this risk, but it’s critical to bear in mind that we live among family members and neighbors who are at great risk if infected. In addition, check out this page from the ACLU on your rights when protesting.

We also want to amplify opportunities for online action:

  • At this link is a screen reader accessible version of “26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets.” This was made possible by Jane Berliss-Vincent.
  • Online disability activists are also working to support captions and image descriptions for social media content. They are organizing through @ProtestAccess for those who wish to engage in this work.
  • If you are looking to take action through donations, here is the link for the National Bail Fund Network. You can look up whether bail funds serve your area or state
  • Contribute to efforts to help neighborhoods/small businesses recover. An example in Chicago is the Small Business Relief Fund from My Block, My Hood, My City. See link here.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to amplify what a few Illinois Black elected leaders in Illinois are saying.

In case you missed it, our original expanded statement from last week is at this link. A truly heartfelt thank you to everyone who is doing this work right now.

Be kind to yourselves.