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  • Ten Principles of Disability Justice1
  • Patricia Berne (bio), Aurora Levins Morales (bio), David Langstaff (bio), and Sins Invalid (bio)

From within Sins Invalid, where we incubate both the framework and practice of Disability Justice, this burgeoning framework has ten (10) principles, each offering new opportunities for movement builders:

1. Intersectionality

We know that each person has multiple identities, and that each identity can be a site of privilege or oppression. The mechanical workings of oppression and how they output shift depending upon the characteristics of any given institutional or interpersonal interaction; the very experience of disability itself is being shaped by race, gender, class, gender expression, historical moment, relationship to colonization, and more.

2. Leadership of Those Most Impacted

We know ableism exists in the context of other historical systemic oppressions. We know to truly have liberation we must be led by those who know the most about these systems and how they work.

3. Anti-Capitalist Politic

We are anti-capitalist as the very nature of our body/minds resist conforming to a capitalist "normative" level of production. We don't believe human worth is dependent on what and how much a person can produce. We critique a concept of "labor" as defined by able-bodied supremacy, white supremacy, and gender normativity. We understand capitalism to be a system that promotes private wealth accumulation for some at the expense of others.

4. Cross-Movement Solidarity

Necessarily cross-movement, Disability Justice shifts how social justice movements understand disability and [End Page 227] contextualize ableism, lending itself toward a united front politic.

5. Recognizing Wholeness

We value our people as they are, for who they are, and understand that people have inherent worth outside of capitalist notions of productivity. Each person is full of history and life experience. Each person has an internal experience composed of their own thoughts, sensations, emotions, fantasies, perceptions, and idiosyncrasies. Disabled people are whole people.

6. Sustainability

We pace ourselves, individually and collectively, to be sustained long-term. We value the teachings of our lives and bodies. We understand that our embodied experience is a critical guide and reference pointing us toward justice and liberation.

7. Commitment to Cross-Disability Solidarity

We value and honor the insights and participation of all of our community members. We are committed to breaking down ableist/patriarchal/racist/classed isolation between people with physical impairments, people who identify as "sick" or are chronically ill, "psych" survivors, and those who identify as "crazy," neurodiverse people, people with cognitive impairments, and people who are of a sensory minority, as we understand that isolation ultimately undermines collective liberation.

8. Interdependence

Before the massive colonial project of Western European expansion, we understood the nature of interdependence within our communities. We see the liberation of all living systems and the land as integral to the liberation of our own communities, as we all share one planet. We attempt to meet each other's needs as we build toward liberation, without always reaching for state solutions which can readily extend its control further over our lives.

9. Collective Access

As brown/black and queer crips, we bring flexibility and creative nuance to engage with each other. We create and explore new ways of doing things that go beyond able-bodied/minded normativity. Access needs aren't shameful—we all have various capacities which function differently in various environments. Access needs can be articulated within a community and met privately or through a collective, depending upon an individual's needs, desires, and the capacity of the group. We can share responsibility for our access needs, we can ask that our needs be met without compromising our integrity, we can balance autonomy while [End Page 228] being in community, we can be unafraid of our vulnerabilities knowing our strengths are respected.

10. Collective Liberation

How do we move together as people with mixed abilities, multiracial, multi-gendered, mixed class, across the orientation spectrum—where no body/mind is left behind?

This is Disability Justice, an honoring of the longstanding legacies of resilience and resistance which are the inheritance of all of us whose bodies or minds will not conform. Disability Justice is not yet a broad-based...


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pp. 227-230
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