Black, Disabled, LGBTQ: Honoring Intersectional Leaders for Black History Month, Part 2
February 23, 2022 / Diversity
By AACs Writing Intern Zoe Larsen
“If you’re wondering where Black disabled history is, it’s everywhere. It’s Audre Lorde, Fannie Lou Hammer, Brad Lomax, Lois Curtis, Halle Berry, Chadwick Boseman; it’s in you, and it’s in me, too.” - Imani Barbarin
Last week, I highlighted the legacies of four important Black, disabled LGBTQ+ people from the past. This week, I’m highlighting four who are doing meaningful work within their communities today.
Eddie Ndopu (pictured above) is a queer, 32-year-old South African activist who was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when he was 2 years old. He attended Oxford University and graduated with a master's degree in public policy. Ndopu is one of 17 ambassadors for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) for the United Nations, and he is a member of Verizon’s advisory board for disability and accessibility. In an interview with Time Magazine, Ndopu revealed that he aspires to be the first disabled person to go to space and is said to be in talks with aerospace companies about making that happen. Keep a watchful eye on his social media for announcements about the forthcoming memoir about his life as a queer, Black wheelchair user—Sipping Dom Perignon Through a Straw—set to be released in 2023.
Aaron Rose Philip
Aaron Rose Philip is a 20-year-old Black transgender model and activist. She has been featured in magazines such as Dazed and Vogue and has walked runways for brands like Collina Strada and Moschino. She was born with cerebral palsy, and in 2018 she became the first Black, transgender person with a physical disability to be signed by a major modelling agency. In an interview with Dazed, Philip explained that her goal is to “normali[ze] the presence of disabled people, women/femmes who are trans and gender nonconforming trans people…so that we can simply work, exist and be authentically valued in the high fashion industry and the world itself as a whole.”
Imani Barbarin is a queer Philadelphia-based writer and disability rights activist with cerebral palsy. She runs the website CrutchesAndSpice.com, where she occasionally publishes think pieces focused on current events connected with disability rights. Her impact on social media has been immense, particularly on TikTok, where she has over 380,000 followers and posts multiple videos daily. Barbarin uses her social media presence to draw attention to the intersections of ableism and racism, and she has created the hashtags #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy and #PatientsAreNotFaking on Instagram and Twitter, which have brought awareness to various disability rights causes. She also writes for a variety of news outlets and has had articles published in Forbes, Rewire and Healthline.
Brittanie Wilson is a queer, Black and brown disability rights activist from St. Paul, Minnesota. She works as Communications Officer for the Minnesota Council on Disabilities, and she has been appointed to Minnesota’s Task Force on Eliminating Subminimum Wages. Wilson also uses her platform on Instagram to speak about her experience with having arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), has appeared on the podcast Crippled is Beautiful and was interviewed by nonprofit organization AMC Support Inc. (AMCSI) about her experience getting started with advocacy and finding community as a person with a disability. Through her work, Wilson encourages city and state officials to rethink their view on disability and address accessibility issues.
Zoe Larsen (they/she) is a queer writer and poet who focuses on LGBTQ+ issues in their writing. They are currently pursuing a B.A. in English from The Ohio State University, and their creative work has been published by Grain of Salt Magazine.