Our voice on intersectionality
ALLFIE promotes the inclusion of Young Disabled people in all discussions that relate to their lives. During the Covid-19 pandemic ALLFIE recognised that young disabled voices were being missed, so the ‘Our Voice’ project was created to encourage young people to feel safe and speak up. I have been a part of the ‘Our Voice’ project since its start and have found the sessions incredibly useful and supportive during quite stressful times.
Hi, my name is Melody, I am 22 and a queer wheelchair user. I love coffee, gaming and fighting for inclusion and diversity. My pronouns are She/Her.
Overview of ‘Our Voice’
When joining the zoom call, you are greeted with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where everything (within reason) is kept confidential. The sessions are full of non-judgemental friendly people, which really helps create a sense of belonging and safety. Within each session we often cover a variety of topics, all of which are very educational and eye-opening. There is a great mixture of informative presentations and open group discussions.
The group discussions really help you to feel less alone and a part of a community. Knowing that there is a safe place to be heard helps you to release built up emotions and discuss solutions you may never have thought of otherwise. By surrounding ourselves with Disabled people from a variety of backgrounds we also learn about the struggles other Disabled people face.
When sharing our personal experiences, we build upon our individual knowledge and strengthen our collective understanding of the inequalities Disabled people face. This better equips us to fight for change for all Disabled people.
In order to fully understand a person’s needs, you must recognise all of their identities, this is known as intersectionality. Intersectionality looks at the whole person, all the different identities and characteristics that make up who we are. For example, I am not just Disabled, I am also many other things such as a Young, Woman and part of the LGBTQ+ community. All of my identities impact my life and the barriers imposed on me, so it is extremely important to understand and recognise intersectionality as well as the social model of disability when considering our experiences.
Within our discussions about intersectionality, we looked into the privilege race analogy. This analogy depicts all of us in a race at different starting points, depending on our identities and inherent privileges. Identities such as having a middle-class background would put you farther ahead than someone who couldn’t access any mainstream education. We then reflected on our own lives and not only identified any disadvantages but we each discovered ways that we are privileged too. I realised that I may have a disadvantage due to having a physical impairment and requiring assistance to access things, however my impairment is easily seen so I am also privileged that my impairment is not constantly questioned. Hearing everyone’s unique perspectives really exemplified the importance of looking at people as whole and not just their most obvious characteristic or identity.
Intersectionality is something that is very important to me as throughout most of my life I have been forced into a singular box which caused me to feel like I didn’t belong. Having a place to openly discuss ways of improving inclusion and helping to ensure the next generation of Young Disabled People feel valued for who they are in every aspect of their life is wonderful.
I have found the sessions within the ‘Our Voice’ project to be extremely insightful and supportive these last few months. I am very excited to see how we, as Young Disabled people, use this new knowledge and understanding to use our voice to campaign and improve the world around us.
Melody Powell (She/Her)