By. Dr. Roosevelt Mitchell III
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but how much progress have people with disabilities made since then? We are living in a day and time where every campaign has seemingly taken precedent over that of the disabled. The LGBT movement has hopped, skipped, and leaped over those with disabilities in terms of social acceptance. Now there is a movement that illustrates #transgender lives matter. Over the last twenty-five years, there has not been a concerted effort, or in my opinion, any effort to “normalize” people with disabilities, or to ease their plight in the struggle.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, I was an eight-year-old boy who didn’t understand it nor had any knowledge of how society viewed me. Over the last twenty-five years, I would experience a wide range of situations as a black man and a person with a physical disability that would shape and mold my identity. Many black people think it’s hard to be what W.E.B. Dubois called “double conscious,” to find your identity as a black man or woman in this American culture, but there is something more difficult: being “triple conscious.” Triple consciousness is what it means to be black in this American culture while also having a disability. It’s that much harder to find your identity and sense of self when your own culture thinks low of you and isn’t interested in building you up.