a person sitting in a wheelchair and a person standing beside, both with the backs turned away from the camera, facing a blurred crowd

Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at a year old, I have lived with a disability my entire life. But that’s not what compelled me to become an activist.

What politicized me around disability was watching America’s healthcare system fail my mother. She was diagnosed with cancer when I was a teenager. Not only could the progression of her illness have been prevented if not for a sexist and incompetent doctor, but she faced the deadly consequences of our broken system firsthand. She needed a life-saving treatment and took the proper steps to make it happen. And then her insurance denied her coverage because of a pre-existing condition: cancer. To hear the cancer she was attempting to treat was considered a pre-existing condition was outrageous. She ultimately was able to get the care she needed, and if it weren’t for the Affordable Care Act, she would have died much sooner.

As I got older and I became more immersed in the larger disability community, I learned that my mother’s experience was shared by nearly every person I interacted with in some form or fashion. My mother’s experience with the medical-industrial complex—coupled with my own as a disabled person—was the start of my journey as an advocate and eventually what led me to create New Disabled South (NDS)…

As a Black woman, religious minority and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve had multiple marginalized identities that have been more salient than my disability throughout my life.

Kehsi Iman Wilson, Chief Operating Officer of New Disabled South

To continue reading visit: Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is a partner of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality.

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