Intersectionality vs. Equality

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Intersectionality And Disability

Current experts state that intersectionality creates barriers for people with disabilities and that there is not enough legislation that considers intersectionality. In addition, what reports were available stated that there is a lack of academic research that explores the impact of intersectionality on the disabled as it relates to economics. Negative effects of intersectionality for people with disabilities include barriers with visibility of disabilities, hierarchy of disabilities, political and social dynamics, and job and financial stability.


  • According to a study published in 2017, intersectionality has a negative impact on people with disabilities which is often overshadowed by other identities. The report stated, "'intersectionality' creates complications for people with disabilities when seeking full inclusion."
  • The Black Lives Matter movement recognized the issues with intersectionality stating, "We are not just fighting for one narrative, but we are specifically fighting for folks who are on the margins. We are fighting for black folks who are also LGBTQ, who are women, who are fem, who are trans, who are disabled."
  • Experts state that the recent situation brought on by COVID-19 has increased the awareness of intersectionality impacting the disabled. In a 2020 study, experts stated, "As a nation, the two current national crises have created a unique point in time to reflect on the intersectionality of race, injustice, poverty and disability. Widespread recognition of historic and systemic racism has created a moment for deep reflection, in which we have a responsibility to increase our awareness of how BIPOC Americans with disabilities are even more impacted by systemic inequalities."

Intersectionality Barriers

  • Intersectionality creates barriers for inclusion, especially for people with disabilities. According to research, barriers that the disabled can face due to intersectionality include being unable to obtain the disabilities services they need due to intersecting identities, creating wider exclusion gaps, or misidentification of people with disabilities.
  • Experts state that people with disabilities face barriers of visibility. They define disabilities as an invisible identity. Because of this people with disabilities are often misidentified by whatever identity is most visible (i.e. race, gender, etc.) which creates a distance between the actual needs of the person and their perceived barriers by external parties.
  • In addition, there are often issues of hierarchy with disabled persons meaning that only the people that are "visibly" disabled receive the appropriate considerations when compared to those with "invisible" disabilities.
  • According to expert Keri Gray, intersectionality is a key issue with equality for the disabled. She stated, " The thing that I find to be harmful is when we’re not building in coalition, because the reality is, is that you have people like myself, who are black, disabled, and women, and so many other things. And when you live at the intersections of all three of those, then you can’t split your political and social dynamics between these different groups. It doesn’t produce real results of freedom and it doesn’t produce real results of access to employment and other opportunities that you’re looking for."

Job And Financial Stability

  • According to a 2020 study of intersectionality relating to disability, by May 2020, 20% of disabled employees in America lost their jobs due to COVID-19, however, the rate of job loss was significantly higher in minorities including Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) at 35%.
  • The study also stated, "Even though intersectionality is critical in understanding the diverse experiences of individuals with disabilities, little research has focused on how this intersectionality plays out in the economic sphere."
  • In terms of race, the intersectionality of disability increases the risk of poverty. Studies show that the percentage of Americans with disabilities ranges from 23% (white) to 36% (black).


  • According to the 2017 study, people with intersecting discriminated identities face higher chances of negative experiences, however, violence is most commonly associated with religion or race affiliations rather than disabilities.
  • According to another article published by a social protection organization, they stated that intersectionality opens persons with disabilities up to more aggravated forms of violence and abuse. The article stated "All persons with disabilities are vulnerable to violence and abuse. However, it is known that women with disabilities have a higher risk and actual experience of violence and abuse through their life-course. Multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of gender and disability result in unique and pervasive barriers to the full realization of human rights."

Examples Of Intersectionality Negatively Impacting The Disabled

  • In 2015, a woman in Texas named Sandra Bland hung herself in her jail cell after being arrested for a traffic violation. Bland was a black woman with a mental illness. The state implemented the Sandra Bland Act which provided protection for disabled persons, however, Bland's family and other parties have criticized the Act stating that the act only applied to the mentally disabled and ignored other factors that could have contributed to her suicide such as gender and race.
  • "Michael Hickson, a Black man with quadriplegia, recently died of COVID-19 when doctors decided to terminate treatment, doubtful that, if he did survive, he would have much of a 'quality of life.'"
  • "Marcus-David Peters, another Black man with a disability, was shot and killed by police during a psychiatric episode."

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