The Washington Socialist <> January 2019
By Matthew A
As Democratic Socialists, we know that the capitalist system exploits the value of our labor, reducing the humanity of individuals to serve the interests of political and economic elites. Capitalist exploitation is intensified by contemporary ableism, which normalizes an oppressive association between the ability to work and socioeconomic stratification. Under capitalism, disabled individuals are considered expendable resources because “less able” is code for “less deserving” of dignity and justice.
The Metro DC DSA Disability Justice Working Group aims to subvert this notion in the context of the broader US disability rights movement. We are dedicated to the empowerment and liberation of the DMV disabled community through nonhierarchical, issue-based campaigns designed by, in consultation with, and for disabled comrades. We consider this position of community-led organizing the best way to achieve representative success for disabled persons. We look to the 1988 Gallaudet University Deaf President Now protest, a week-long shutdown by deaf and hard of hearing students that secured the university’s first deaf president, as inspiration for our work in this regard.
Furthermore, the Disability Justice Working Group also aims for nondisabled comrades to act in solidarity with and become an integral part of this working group. In this case, we look to the 504 Sit-In, where disability advocates and their Black Panther allies led the longest nonviolent occupation of a federal building in U.S. history, as an example of the intersectional solidarity we aim to uphold through our work. In doing so, we will work to address cross-cutting issues in areas of greatest concern to disabled folks for a more inclusive and welcoming DMV that centers each person’s full humanity and worth.
In addition to action-based campaigns on discrete disabled community issues, the Disability Justice Working Group will engage in internal and external political education surrounding the disabled community and its relationship to capitalism and other systems of oppression through workshops, discussion and reading groups, and panels. We look forward to partnering with the chapter’s Political Education Working Group on such events.
We will be introducing the Disability Justice Working Group to the chapter at-large during the January general body meeting. Our first meeting will be February 7, 7 PM-8:30 PM at the Watha T. Daniel Shaw Neighborhood Library. At that meeting, we will have an in-depth discussion of our vision and strategy for 2019. To connect with us prior to then, please join our Slack channel at #disability-justice.