In her own words: I am Vilissa Thompson, a proud disabled woman of color, social worker, and advocate. I created my advocacy organization, Ramp Your Voice!, two years ago to provide a safe space and platform for disabled voices, particularly disabled women of color like myself. Being a triple-minority means that my experiences are uniquely intertwined due to the identities I have: being disabled (born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta [OI] & hard of hearing due to OI), African American, and a woman. I saw that within all three identity groups that the voices and stories of disabled women of color were grossly unseen and unheard – I wanted to do my part in shattering the harmful exclusion we endured for not only myself, but for the millions of disabled girls and women of color who felt invisible. It is so important for us to say it loud, “I’m disabled, of color, a woman, & proud!” There are many challenges we endure that affect our abilities to gain equal and quality access to education, healthcare, employment, independence, and truly feel equal to not only our disabled peers, but within the larger society as well. Though my advocacy is inclusive to all life experiences, it is the lives of disabled girls and women of color I am ardently passionate about, and will use my voice to advocate and fight for their rights in society. I currently give presentations about the experiences of disabled women, and those of color, as well as can provide consultation concerning the importance of inclusion and abiding the disability laws in the United States. I also am in the process of applying to law school, which would allow me to add a legal component to my advocacy because we must fight to have empowering laws in place that recognizes both our personhood and womanhood.
If you would like to keep up with the great work Vilissa is doing, be sure to follow her on Twitter!
Victoria Oruwari is an award winning Soprano singer who happens to be hails from my home nation of Nigeria. Victoria lost her eyesight at the age of 7, but has not let that get in the way of her ambition to sing, and to be heard. She is also a songwriter and a singing instructor. She works with the company Singability, and she runs the Singability Westminster, which anyone can drop into as all singing abilities are welcome. I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria during the Nigerian Independence Anniversary party a few Saturdays ago. We happened to be sitting at the same table and got talking about all things Nigerian, including our love of parties and we shared our experiences as disabled women and all that it entails. She was awarded a well deserved prize at the evening. Spending time with Victoria really put to the forefront of my mind the things that so many of us take for granted. Being the independent woman that she is, she got to the event and left by herself. Always great to see black women not letting anything at all stop them or get in their way.
Being a triple minority like the amazing ladies above, it is so awesome to know that they are out there doing awesome things. They’re trying to better themselves and others along the way. I will continue scouring the Internet in search of more disabled black women being excellent, so watch this space!