Women of color with disability

Womenof color with disability



Womenof color with disability are of all racial, religious, age andsocioeconomic backgrounds. They have impairments that subject them toobstacles limiting their independence. Women with disabilities aredenied opportunities at home, workplaces and even in theircommunities (Balcazar, 2010). These women have multiple needs butfailure to recognize their similarities with other women,discriminates them. They struggle to encourage other women not toaddress them as genderless people. Despite, men and women withdisabilities facing discrimination, women are more disadvantaged dueto discrimination based on gender and disability.

Thereare numerous obstacles experienced by women of color withdisabilities in their struggle for equality. They includeunemployment issues, little education and wages, high rates of sexualand physical violence as well as problems of accessing health careservices (Balcazar, 2010). Women of color and disabilities constitutea large part of women in the United States, and two out of ten womenare disabled. It limits their life activities such as caring forthemselves, learning, working and performing manual tasks amongothers. The types of disabilities that these women suffer frominclude cerebral palsy, cancer, heart diseases, drug addiction,visual impairment and mental retardation. This research paperanalyzes the lives of women of color with disability and how they arediscriminated in the society.


Disabledwomen have a lot of roles to play. They are mothers, doctors,entrepreneurs and students among many other professionals. The firstinstance where women of color with disability are discriminated is onemployment. Employmentisan essential element in a person`s life and leads to freedom andself-sufficiently (Stone, 2010). discrimination occur when organizations covered by the Americans withDisabilities Act treats them unfavorably. The needs of people withdisability are perceived differently. Work for these women is seen asa means of passing time rather than offering them freedom. Most ofthe jobs that women of color and disabled get are associated withpoor pay, low status, and poor working condition. It is because theireducation is also limited due to similar factors.

Further,technical aids compromise women`s work careers. Majority of theorganizations discriminate women of color with disability onfull-time jobs. There are fewer chances for their promotion as wellas job security. Research shows that the rate of unemployment amongwomen with disability is high as compared to women of color withoutdisability (Pratt-Clarke, 2010).


Thesecond issue that relates to women of color and disability isviolence. It has been studied a lot either in the context of abuseagainst disabled women or violence against women in general. Researchdemonstrates that most of the disabled women, as well as women ofcolor, fall victim of sexual violence and harassment (Balcazar,2010). Violence against these women is a sensitive issue that needsconcrete and practical measures. Although there is no sufficientevidence that shows violence against women with disability, studiesargue on their experiences, sufferings, and difficulties encountered.The Americans with Disability Act has developed strategies thatencourage women of color and disability to associate freely withother people as well as communicate in confidence. To an extent,these women are regarded as not having the recommended attributessuch as beauty and other qualities related to being a woman.

Violenceto disabled women is associated with people who exist to serveothers, be slaves and dependent on others a perception that promotestheir abuse. Majority of the human activists consider violence ondisabled as a violation of human rights (Stone, 2010). Most of thevictims are not able to defend their self, and this exposes them toeven more abuses. Different studies conclude that women of color withdisability are likely to be harassed sexually and physically ascompared to those without a disability. According to research done byStone, he pointed out some factors that subject women with disabilityto being victims of violence. The first factor is on dependency onothers. Those with the responsibility of providing care may decide totake advantage of them and abuse. The other factor is the difficultyof being heard. Women with disabilities are not given a chance toexpress their opinions. Even after being abused, no one is there tolisten to their grievances. The third element that makes disabledwomen victims of violence is their physical helplessness in publicplaces (Pratt-Clarke, 2010). They are not able to support themselvesmaking them easily targeted. Other factors include manipulation,inadequate education on genders and negative perceptions of disabledpeople towards their abilities to self-protect.

Despitethe factors that subject women with disability to violence, there arealso numerous barriers that hinder them from reporting and filingcharges to the necessary agencies. The repercussions of their actionsafter filing claims even to the organizations that safeguard theirinterests is what most of them fear (Balcazar, 2010). They fearisolations and lack of care from the people whom they rely on.Violence can be expressed in two types namely active and passive.Intense force means that disabled woman are physically harassed, andharsh words are used to offend them. Under passive violence, a womanof color with disability is denied the basic human needs such as foodand clothing. It means that they are not fed or clothed incircumstances where they cannot do it independently. Violence is abroad term that comprises of physical, sexual violence andharassment. It can also happen at home, workplaces, schools or thesurrounding environments they live. Different laws have beenestablished to protect them from such violence because, incircumstances where the people mistreating them are close relativeswhom they depend on, they are unable to support themselves (Stone,2010).

Recentstudies show that most of the violence perpetrated on women of colorwith disability is that the perpetrators regard them asinconsiderate. They do not show concern to other people`s feeling whoare disadvantaged in any other means. Disabled women fall victim ofsuch assumptions due to lack of esteem and inability to speak out. Inmost cases, these women conform to such things in order to experiencewhat other people without disability feel in order to attractattention, but in reality they are experiencing sexual abuse(Pratt-Clarke, 2010). Another instance where violence is committed isin hospitals. Women with disability are at times used as researchequipments. Some studies showed that these women are used in abusiveexperiments. Also, they are forced to queue for long before they areserved.


Theimmigration court system of the United States is complex particularlyto issues related to women of color with disabilities. They find itdifficult to provide evidence or even follow the court progress dueto lack of legal representatives such as lawyers and judges. Researchdemonstrates that more that 15% of women with disability are held inan immigration detention. Disparate the judicial system, immigrationsystems do not have established policies that deal with issuesrelated to women with disabilities (Pratt-Clarke, 2010). The onlysolution available is to carry on removal of these people. Theimmigration departments do not give disabilities right to protectionagainst deportation. Recently, the Immigrants Rights Projectdeveloped strategies that ensure women of color with disability aregiven right to express themselves.

Accordingto research based on 120 interviews with disabled non- citizen women,human right activists, social workers and family members, it showedthat disabled people are not protected. It is, therefore, easier todeport them from the United States without follow-up, or any legalclaims placed. The arrest of disabled women, detention, anddeportation, infringes the fundamental human rights of the peopleaffected, International standards of justice as well as the UnitedStates (Pratt-Clarke, 2010). They are not given rights to appointlegal representatives to defend them, and the detention policies usedare not authorized. In addition, they are not given a free trial atthe court so that they can achieve fair ruling. On the same point,while detained the women with disability are not provided with socialcare services that people with such conditions should receive.

Theimplication of this study compromised the rectitude of theimmigration system as well as threatening the judicial court systemin ensuring just results are delivered. In an attempt to address thesituation, legal officials have been sent all over the world todemonstrate that due processes are in place that will help reformtheir systems (Stone, 2010). During its decisions on who to removeand remain, the United States should give everyone a fair opportunityto defend their rights. In circumstances where removal of women ofcolor with disabilities is necessary, human rights should be observedand respected. Also, the court system should be allowed to make finaldecisions.

Anexample a deportation case is based on the Nesterenko family whosefortune is not yet known. Their daughter, Angelina who is 18 yearshas a mind of a 6-year-old baby. Angelina had applied for a greencard to the United States. After migrating, the immigration officersordered her removal due to her condition. The parents insisted thatthe condition could not permit her to live alone. They pleaded withthe immigration saying that she cannot survive on her own and needssomeone to take care of her. They had fled their home due toreligious conflicts that were supported by the Ukrainian government. The other problem is that the father was a Ukrainian and the mother,a Russian. They were looking for a safe place. The mother pleadedwith Lesley Irizarry, who was then the immigration attorneys whopromised positive results. Angelina needed care 24/7 as well asmedication to improve her health. Irizarry assisted the family inapplying for asylum past one year because the condition that Angelinawas suffering has an exception.


Theother issue related to women of color with disability is segregation.According to research by Romanian human right activist, over 10, 000women with disability have been placed in schools that have beenbuild purposes to house them. The study showed that when a persondies in the institution, another one is brought to fill the vacancy.The organization acts as a lifelong imprisonment with no hope ofgetting freedom (Stone,2010).There is no person to petition for their release. There have beenrecently reported scandals in these institutions. The first scandalwas reported by a Romanian broadcast that showed women of color withdisability tied on their beds. The videos also showed them beingbeaten, force-fed and kept in dark rooms.

Thesecond scandal revealed that the Romanian government assassinated ayoung woman with reading disabilities. Also, she had HIV/AIDs anddied in a state hospital after nurses failed to attend to herclaiming that they would also get AIDs. Claims were filed against thegovernment but due to inefficient justice systems, it failed to holdanyone reliable. The housing of the women with disability is thefundamental violation of human rights. The facility was funded by theEuropean government that ensured that they were mistreated. Further,the study demonstrated how over Eight billion Euro of the taxpayer`smoney was used to fund these institutions governed by the state. Thepolicy was that no one would leave the organization unless they diethere.


UrbanGentrification is another issue related to women of color withdisability. After many years of population decline, the population ofcities in the recent days increased rapidly. The middle classincreased in size occupying places that were initially avoided.Racial stereotypes influence the choices of individuals on where theywould like to live (Balcazar,2010).Neighborhood selection has been one of the issues that has affectedmajority of the cities in the United States. Majority of the citiessegregate women with disabilities. People live in cities inconsideration to school qualities, crimes, and property values.Gentrification is referred as the process whereby the middle classAmericans decide to stay with fellow white neighbors. They segregateblack neighborhoods and refer to Asian as middling options.


Affirmativeaction refers to a set of steps that organizations use in an attemptto promote equal employment opportunities. These measures helpeliminate any form of discrimination at workplaces. The steps areincluded in programs that help in recruitment training andmanagement among other programs that promote the welfare of employeesin an organization including those with disabilities (Pratt-Clarke,2010). are included in the affirmativeaction so as to increase the number of qualified candidates availablefor hiring. The research conducted in the United States showed thatmore than 50% of the working population is disabled with 30 % beingwomen of color with disability. The unemployed working group compriseof qualified disabled people who could in one way or the other helpboost the revenues. They have diverse skills that organizations canuse. For instance, some of the women have skills in productdevelopment, marketing and sales. Employers can also use their skillsto gain popularity among the disabled community (Pratt-Clarke, 2010).

TheDivas with Disabilities Project

Thelast decade was characterized with attention to women withdisabilities in general. Racial feminism was limited in scope. TheDivas with Disabilities Project (DWDP) was established to encouragethese women as prove their abilities beyond disabilities. Theorganization helps women overcome their perceptions that they cannotperform by proving that their deformities are more than theirwheelchairs and limbs (Stone,2010).The DWDP refers to women of color with disabilities as Divas withdisAbilities. These women are victorious, inspirational, beautifuland talented. Dr. Donna R. Walton calls upon all the women of colorwith disability to be affirmative and participate in embracing theDivas with Disabilities Project. The DWDP was set to make the voicesof these women be heard and treated equally as other women who arenot disadvantaged. They also encouraged women in wheelchairs, thosewith no legs and arms to stand firm and be strong like other membersin the DWDP. The objective was to expose the talents and abilities ofwomen with disability.

In1976, Dr. Donna was commonly known as the Diva with a winning spirit.She was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, which is a type of bonecancer. At the age of 18 years, her left leg was cut to preventfurther spreading of the disease. This did not let off her dreams,since losing her leg she has achieved numerous personal andprofessional successes (Stone, 2010). Donnas’ motivational mottowas whatdoes a leg got to do with it?She is a behavior therapist and has been going around the world toencourage people and organizations to realize their potentials andlive their dreams. One of her greatest achievement was establishing aprogram known as legTalk, the Incthat helped inspire as well as empower people to overcome theirdisabilities to succeed. In addition, the program focused more onwomen of color with disability by encouraging them to utilize theirabilities and professional careers to live their dreams. Donnafurther developed a program known as GONOWthat helped women affected with AIDS to resume working.

Dr.Donna has established various empowerment programs that have seen themajority of the women of color with disability live their lives. Therecent program she developed was that Divas with Disabilities thathas allowed more women with disability to shine career wise and intheir lives (Stone, 2010). Her success has also allowed her produce adocumentary film that shows how women of color with disability areabused. Despite being a woman of color with disability, she is anaward-winning motivational speaker who advises people andorganizations on a different issue. She has made presentations to theUnited States Army, Washington Hospital, disability conferences andmany colleges and universities around the world.

Majorityof the women of color with disability are left out duringadvertisement campaigns that are intended to promote beauty. Donnaencouraged disabled women by telling them that they are so beautifulto be disabled. Majority of women appear on magazines and fashionjournals but as for the African-American women and other women ofcolor with disability, the case is different (Stone, 2010). They areignored and insulted with claims that they do not measure up to theexpectations.


Womenof color with disability have been discriminated long enough, it isnow time to accept and respect them in the society. They are capableof performing like any other ordinary person if given the chance. Aquote should guide people that disability is not inability. In myopinion regarding violence on women of color with disability is thatthey should be prepared to self-defend themselves and not just toaccept. Also, the people employed to take care of such people shouldbe trained and supervised to ensure that they observe the code ofethics (Balcazar, 2010). In addition, those who abuse such peopleshould be punished severely. On the issue of sexuality, it is ofimportance to educate people surrounding women with disability onissues of sexual identity. Disabled girls should be allowed tointeract with other friends so that they can identify their sexualidentity. The other disturbing issue that should be addressed isemployment. Organizations and people who have vested interests inwork must be aware of the conditions affecting women of color withdisability and promote their rights (Stone, 2010).

Thesociety should make sure that organizations established in theseareas recognize their abilities by giving back to the community. Suchorganizations must also improve their services so that disabledpeople can easily access them. Moreover, institutions and vocationaltraining centers must be properly informed so that they prepare womenwith disabilities ready for work with guarantee for independence.They must adjust their programs to support disabled people in termsof services and giving extra time for completion of responsibilities.


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Balcazar,Fabricio E. 2010. Race,culture, and disability: rehabilitation science and practice. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Pratt-Clarke,Menah A.E. 2010. Criticalrace, feminism, and education: a social justice model. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Stone,Karen G. 2010. Awakeningto disability: nothing about us without us.Volcano, CA: Volcano Press.

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