Disabled Black People Are At High Risk

Young men holding coffin
Via Flickr
William Anderson
October 11, 2020

Every Black person is different, but sometimes, in efforts to talk about the distinct oppression we face as a people, we erase the unique experiences some of us have. When it comes to police violence, this is certainly the case. Disabled Black people face this daily.

Tanisha Anderson, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and many more are names on a long list of disabled Black people killed by police. It’s estimated 30-50% of people killed by the police are disabled. Yet this is often left out of the conversation for a reason.

Racism and ableism (discrimination against disabled people) are connected. The police see a Black person, but if they’re deaf, blind, or suffering from a mental health issue, this can quickly escalate into a deadly confrontation. We’ve seen what can happen many times.

When police are called because of mental health crises, they often resort to violence because they are not mental health professionals. The same can be said for a deaf man like Eric Smith, who police killed although he couldn’t hear their commands. 

Black disabled lives matter and these are day-to-day experiences for many. It’s not just about one type of Black person facing systemic injustice. We need resources and programs to help EVERYONE in our communities instead of policing issues that police can’t solve.