Some people describe social justice as “what love looks like in public.” Social Justice means working to create a world where we all can be our whole selves. It is working to create a world where everyone is respected and treated fairly. People doing doing social justice work are working to combat oppression. Oppression means using power to keep someone down.This page covers disability oppression (called “ableism”), other oppressions, and examples of people who are doing social justice work. At the bottom of this page are links to glossaries explaining all these words.
Oppression that hurts people with disabilities is also called ableism. Ableism is set of beliefs that values and favors non-disabled people.
1. What is Ableism? is website that gives a concise definition of the word Ableism and explains how and when it originated. It also talks about how people can fight Ableism.
2. Brown Star Girl is a site by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarashina, a disabled queer woman of color. Leah is a poet, artist, teacher, and disability activist. Her writings talk a lot about how ableism perpetuates [creates and continues] violence, trauma and exclusion.
3. Democracy Now recently interviewed Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarashina and Stacey Milbern, NYLN’s Community Outreach Director. In the interview, Leah and Stacey talk about ableism and the importance of interdependence.
4. The Disabled Young People’s Collective Zine is a 114 page hand-made, illustrated book created by members of the Disabled Young People’s Collective (DYP). DYP is NYLN’s state partner in North Carolina. It includes a lot of writing on how Ableism works. It can be used in workshops. Contact NYLN to find out how to get a copy. It usually costs $5-8.
5. Feminist Disability Studies Blog is an online blog run by a group of feminists with disabilities. They post often and write a lot about how media represents people with disabilities.
6. Sisters of Frida is a blog run by disabled women. They do a lot of work to fight ableism and raise visibility around the oppression women with disabilities face.
7. If I Can’t Dance It’s Still My Revolution is a site that covers the way ableism is still pervasive [spread everywhere] in social justice movements. This site cover the different definitions of disability, ableism, and ways we can resist an ableism that hurts us all.
8. Leaving Evidence is a blog by Mia Mingus, a disabled, queer, transnational adoptee of color. She is a disability activist working in queer people of color community. Her writings talk a lot about her experience with ableism and the medical industrial complex [a money-centered system that uses science to control people.] She also writes a lot about how ableism isolates disabled people. She facilitates disability workshops (NYLN loves working with her) and is available to work with your group.
OTHER SOCIAL JUSTICE RESOURCES
Besides ableism, there are many other forms of oppression. Some other forms of oppression include racism [a form of oppression that hurts people of color], classism [a form of oppression that hurts poor people], heterosexism [a form of oppression that hurt people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender], and sexism [a form or oppression that hurts women]. Social justice activists try to understand and be aware of all of the forms of oppression. They understand that each form of oppression does not work alone. Forms of oppression work together to hold people back. Social justice is also about being an ally. Being an ally involves understanding the forms of oppression that do not affect you. It involves working to challenge those forms of oppression.
1. How Do We Relate?: Relationships Between Forms of Oppression (.pdf) is a document created by Southerners on New Ground. It is a chart that connects the dots between the issues that disabled people, low income people, immigrants, people of color, and GLBTQ [Gay, Lesbian. Transgender, and Queer] people face. It is helpful for understanding how Ableism and other forms of oppression work hand in hand with each other. It is made by Southerners on New Ground. SONG is an organization that works towards queer liberation in the South.
2. Bias Free Triangle is an illustration that explains how bias works. It is also known as the Burke and Eichler’s Bias Free Framework. You can find the bias free triangle and documents that help explain it at
3. Challenging White Supremacy is a group of organizers who give anti-racism trainings. They have a thorough list of resources on ways white people can be an ally to people of color.
4. The Privilege and Allyship Pamphlet (pdf) is a a concise, resource that talks about safe space, some basic social justice definitions, and ways to be actively be an ally to transgender and gender-variant people . The Multicultural Resource Center at Oberlin College created the document. They also have a list of resources about how to be an ally including the Privilege and Allyship Pamphlet.
5. What is Adultism? Adultism is the belief that adults are better than young people. This is a resource that explains what adultism is and how it plays out.
7. Colorlines is the most respected news source among racial justice activists. It is available online and is pretty easy to read.
8. Movement Strategy Center is a place where leaders come together to talk about how to build better movements. If you click on resources, they have a lot of things you can download about environmental justice, reproductive justice, and more.
SOCIAL JUSTICE GLOSSARIES
1. Evaluation Tools for Racial Equity has a great online glossary covering words like ally, oppression, structural racism, and other words.
2. The Freechild Project has an online glossary of words used in youth movements, like adultism and intergenerationality.
3. Youth Against Racism has a fantastic glossary explaining every day words used in social justice movements.