To the editor:
As a disability advocate, both myself and my team of supporters are sadly recognizing that racism and discrimination is very much alive and thriving in New York City. And it is comfortably lurking within so many of the “white candidates” looking to be elected onto the city council and as our next borough president in 2021.
Riverdale is no exception. The mayoral race is even more disturbing and shocking. Truly an eye-opener.
As a disabled advocate, both myself and my supporters ask for disability justice in 2021. When I mention this to candidates of color, they smile, and ask, “What would you like me to do?” Or, “Great work! Where do I sign up?” Or “Please give me your suggestions.”
When I ask candidates who are white, there is generally a pause. And then, more often than not, some deny that they even heard the question. One actually said, “Well, I support disabled kids, but not disabled adults.”
Really, I am not kidding.
Many disabled adults in New York City live a very lonely and isolated existence, and some sadly end their lives as their quality of life is simply non-existent.
When I discuss EBT low-income justice policies, the 45 percent of doors that slammed shut from the white candidates denying the disabled community suddenly jumps to a massive 80 percent by white candidates who say to the electronic benefit transfer-supported low-income families, “Sorry, you are truly on your own regarding EBT.”
This is when pure undiluted racism is not even hidden, but is proudly thrust into my face by very smug white candidates who shake their heads and say, “EBT is not an option for our policies and website. Please never ask us again.”
Candidates of color say to me, “It’s about time someone discussed EBT. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”
Yet, the moment that I call out the white candidates as racists, elitists and discriminators, then boy how they immediately become defensive and say how they are super progressive. Or how they emulate the Kennedys. Marched in the Black Lives Matter protests. And even have some token friends of color.
But they just don’t actually want to live near any projects.
It’s called a “whitewash” — pretend that you are hip, progressive and that you love your neighbor. Just as long as your neighbor is white.
Nine out of 10 white candidates will gush about animal rights, and then turn to tell the EBT low-income community that they should be ashamed to be depending on food stamps each month.
All of the white candidates running for office in New York City are financially secure, and not one of them is receiving EBT food stamps.
All of the white candidates running for office in New York City are not physically or emotionally disabled to a level that totally prevents their ability to earn an income.
And just to note that every white female candidate running for office in New York City states how they “fully support all women.” Just as long as they are not disabled women, and just as long as they are not women who receive EBT food stamps each month.
So imagine how the city council will vote in 2022 when all these closet white racists and discriminators are allowed to run districts and to dictate policy.
Many of them scream “defund the NYPD,” then turn and dismiss the disabled community and the EBT low-income community. Yet, they proudly spout the word “solidarity.”
So I have to wonder who are they in solidarity with, when it’s clearly not with their communities.
The Black Lives Matter marches never really changed a thing. White privilege in New York City, in my opinion, is very much alive and thriving.
Whereas the candidates of color looking to be elected in 2021 speak a very different language. The vast majority were born into poverty, and went to bed hungry. They understand disabilities, and they truly understand EBT.
They do not need to be sold policies by me. They get it. They always have.
The author is the director of Advocacy for the Disabled NYC.