I couldn't let this day go by without sending you a note - on this day, 31 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.
Because of the ADA, I could attend a public school with an elevator. Because of the ADA, I can ride the public bus. Because of the ADA, I can get into places like doctor's offices and government buildings and (some) coffee shops and bars. Because of the ADA, I can work with the accommodations I need to make my job safe.
But the ADA isn't enforced properly in many situations. There are many buildings we still cannot enter, many discriminatory practices still in use, and many stigmas to be overcome. Until we, as a society, demand justice for our disabled brothers and sisters, disabled people will still face discrimination and exclusion in our daily lives. We have a lot of work to do.
Want to learn more? Here are my top 6 recommendations:
There are so many people doing good work for Disability Justice, and I encourage you to check them out! I know by now that I can't do it all, but there is one small piece of the Disability Justice issue that I'm doing my most to raise awareness about through my career: accessibility in the arts. I believe when people hear the voices of disabled people lifted up authentically, they will be moved to act. I believe that when the Disability Culture is amplified, it will be seen for the vibrant, innovative, creative, and powerful force it truly is.
What is Disability Culture? It is a celebration of people who identify as disabled, while acknowledging the vast diversity of the disability experience and each person's inherent and equal worth. It is unapologetic, creative, innovative, adaptable, imaginative, and rooted in problem-solving. It is based on the premise that disability needs to be seen, respected, included, and celebrated. It includes our worldviews, our perspectives, our contributions, our art, our words, and our music.
This passion for disability culture is why I am helping Lachi and several other artists to launch the new disability-led group RAMP'D - Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities. Our mission is to serve as a resource for disabled recording artists and music professionals and their allies by amplifying disability culture, promoting inclusion, and advocating for accessibility in the music industry.
We're in the beginning stages, but if you want to get involved or join that mailing list, you can sign up here!
Also, I wanted to let you know about my NEW PODCAST! I launched it about a month ago in order to provide folks with another way to enjoy the "Sunday Sessions" YouTube show I've been hosting every week since March 2020. The interviews with my guests have been really fun, so I've been paring them down a bit for this podcast. You can listen on Buzzsprout, IHeartRadio, or Spotify.
In honor of the ADA, I had a fellow RAMP'D member and hip-hop artist Namel "Tap Waterz" Norris on this week. He's the rapper for 4 Wheel City, a duo that is using hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for disabled people. We had an amazing chat about Disability Culture that is now available as a podcast OR you can watch the full conversation (with closed captioning) on YouTube!
Anyway, that's it for now. To all of you who are disabled or love someone who is, I am sending you a big hug tonight and a knowing smile. Each and every person has value and adds to the beautiful human tapestry... And that includes disabled people! I will leave you with this song by Kimya Dawson & my good pal Kalyn Heffernan from Wheel Chair Sports Camp - it's called Thunder Rolls... Take a listen, keep in touch, be well, and stay safe! Thank you so much for your support!