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Disability justice and racial equity go hand in hand, city's advocate says

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When the pandemic reached Rochester, the city's equity coordinator, Luticha André Doucette,  was concerned for her safety. Doucette has a disability and is immunocompromised.  
Luticha André Doucette is the city of Rochester's equity coordinator. - PROVIDED BY LUTICHA ANDRÉ DOUCETTE
  • PROVIDED BY LUTICHA ANDRÉ DOUCETTE
  • Luticha André Doucette is the city of Rochester's equity coordinator.


But the pandemic offered a silver lining. Doucette along with so many others began working from home. Her cats have made regular appearances on ZOOM calls. She said that while it’s comfortable, it has also been frustrating.

“This is a hypocrisy that when non-disabled people need accommodations the world kinda bends forward for them but for us, for years we've been asking for this,” Doucette said.

Last year, Bloomberg Law reported that in 2017 and 2018, 21 out of 30 lawsuits over reasonable accommodation requests through the Americans with Disabilities Act sided with employers. While disability advocates fought for policies like the ADA, Doucette said that disability activism led by white people has largely left out people of color.

“White disabled people have the same work that they need to do internally as non-disabled white people,” she said. “So, understanding their own privilege, just because you’re disabled, your whiteness still matters.”

As Black Lives Matter has raised a call to end racial injustice in policing, public health, and education, Doucette believes that justice for disabled people of color is also part of the equation.



“We can’t really talk about getting people out of prisons without talking about getting people out of institutions,” she said.

Data from the New York State Department of Health shows that people with developmental disabilities die at a rate two and a half times higher than others who contract the virus. Researchers say this is in part due to group home settings.

Doucette said that even though she can’t join protests, she supports the Black Lives Matter movement and sees opportunity for a myriad of voices to contribute to the cause for racial equity.

“What could be really powerful for Black Lives Matter is to join forces with the black and brown queer disabled movement for justice,” she said.

Noelle E.C. Evans is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. She can be reached at nevans@wxxi.org.

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