Breaking Barriers Spring 2021
April 24, 2021
Updated July 12, 2021
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THEME: RACE AND DISABILITY
Being Black, Indigenous, or a person of color and living with a disability multiplies challenges for individuals and diminishes the opportunities that society gives them. Authors in this issue tell their stories at the intersection of race and disability.
Support Students; Don’t Villainize Them
by Dr. Didi L. Watts, The R.O.C.K. Church (RCA), Los Angeles CA
During more than 20 years in the education system, Dr. Watts has seen first hand how a system that is not addressing societal issues can be extremely detrimental to children. Specifically, she focuses on the significant challenges of unconscious bias that many Black students have had to deal with, issues that are woven into the system, and the devastating results they can lead to.
Being Black and Disabled in Corporate America
by Marcus Wroten, Maple Avenue Ministries (CRC-RCA), Holland MI
Marcus is in his 40s and lives with cerebral palsy. He notices the disparity that occurs for people who do not fit into what society has deemed as the right way to look. Being Black and having a visible disability has meant that Marcus has lost out on opportunities simply because people judge his appearance without knowing anything about him. His story is not unique, but this is our current reality.
COVID’s effect on marginalized groups
by Rev. Dr. Micheal Edwards, Executive director, Regional Synod of New York (RCA)
It has become abundantly clear during a global pandemic that our society does not deliver support and resources in an equitable way. Access to care, support, and the vaccine over the course of the pandemic has been a greater challenge for people living on the margins of our society. Churches must take steps to educate people and eliminate these inequalities.
Cognitive Disabilities Often Ignored
by Yolanda Diaz Escolastico, Marble Collegiate Church (RCA), New York City NY
Yolanda shares her experience of living with an invisible disability within a culture and a community that does not understand her diagnosis or how it will affect her life. She lives with the realization that, in judging her, people lack empathy and understanding.
The Joy I Find in Living with MS
Angela has lived with the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis for 35 years, yet how she experienced life with MS was a choice. She chose to look at life from a positive perspective of “more strength,” welcoming friends and life experiences that came as a direct result of living with MS. Her faith and trust in God sustain her joy in life.
Editor’s Note: Our Work Toward Equity
In one Disability Concerns workshop exercise, participants are asked to identify a number of personal characteristics that society values, including ones related to ethnicity and ability. Although some may object, it is important to recognize that we exist within society that is driven by standards of privilege. Naming this is the first step in addressing systems that privilege some but not others.
Next Issue: Summer 2021—The arts and disability.
Submissions, please! Fall 2021—Speech differences. People living with speech differences, such as stuttering and cerebral palsy that affects speech, face various challenges such as avoidance of interacting with others, not being allowed to finish their thoughts, and even assumptions others make about their intelligence. If you live with a speech difference, please tell us a story or give us your advice in no more than 400 words. Send your submission by August 2.
Awards and Past Issues
You can find this issue in a variety of alternative formats (print-friendly layout, large print, audio) attached below.
In addition, find back issues of Breaking Barriers and editions in Español and in 한국어, plus a link for electronic subscriptions, at either the CRC website (www.crcna.org/disability) or RCA website (www.rca.org/disability).
This newsletter and the Disability Concerns blog (network.crcna.org/disability), co-published by CRC and RCA Disability Concerns ministries, received two Best in Class awards of merit from the Associated Church Press this year: for Breaking Barriers (newsletter category) and for Disability Concerns on The Network (blog category).
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