Written By Rosey Thomas Palmer
Thanks to Dzaier, our GP Disabilities’ group chair, the Greens of Colour is glad to introduce the Disabilities Union, a new source of activism to improve social conditions across the whole range of disabilities. The Disabilities Union was founded and is being run by an energetic and diverse group in Surrey. The major difference between this new force and the well-known efforts of such unions as Unite is that it is organised by and for Disabled people.
This answers the old chestnut of how white allies of Greens of Colour can best support People of Colour: let our co-workers lead. The website images of the executive members of the Disabilities Union express clearly the full range of differences that mainstream institutions and groups have formerly thought of as being defining and, often, limiting. These pics and their short bios offer hints of physical, mental, sensory and emotional challenges that have moulded union members’ recent and relevant challenge to uncritical social assumptions.
Are we not aware that ramps to public places, wider aisles in shops and stores and accessible toilet facilities are mandatory in the UK? We are, but we have ceased to observe how the word “reasonable” was inserted into legislation to protect businesses that were not swept up in the initial enthusiasm for inclusivity. We honour the right to work but adaptations to workstations and practices to open employment opportunities to the disabled are infrequently prioritised. We endorse the Human Rights protection of all but are unsure how quitting Europe will preserve this value. We abhor the increased vulnerability of people with disabilities to Covid19 but we have been slow to notice it and analyse it. Braille and talking print systems, along with hand translations continue to be seen as costly extras in communications of many kinds.
All these oversights and many more await redress. We congratulate the new team leading the Disabilities Union. If we say we back their every move our aspirations outstrip our capabilities yet, as PoC and allies, we do not draw back from questioning the conditions the mainstream offers and hope to play a significant role in spreading information and endorsing the leadership decisions of members of the GP with disabilities.