We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe

8th June 2020 by Raphaele von Koettlitz

At D&A we talk about disabling experiences, situations and attitudes. The term “disabled people” is important for political reasons, to address the inherent barriers that many people face. But we aspire to reach a point where our society is so inclusive that the label becomes less relevant, as we believe disablement is often contextual. Environments can be disabling; a person in a wheelchair might consider themselves disabled in front of a flight of stairs, but not necessarily in front of a lift. The social model shows us that we can be inclusive by making our world accessible to the needs of everyone if we want to. Disablement can be considered a social construct.

Let’s talk about racism. 

If you apply the same line of thought to a person of colour living in a racist world, they are also “disabled” by the daily struggles of fighting against racism and systems that weren’t built with them in mind. There are structural inequalities that run deep, from the whitewashing of history lessons in schools to the disproportionate stop and search rates of black people. Simple things like going for a walk around your community, bird watching or even just sleeping peacefully in your own home ought to be a steadfast right. But it’s not. This world is currently disabling for people of colour.

Disablement comes in many shapes, colours, genders and beliefs, often crossing over to magnify marginalisation. At D&A we always have, and always will, champion diversity and listen closely to each person’s individual experience. We know that people experience disability differently, that people are complex and have layered identities that intersect. Black disabled people often face a double burden of being systematically undermined and overlooked.

We stand with you: paving the way for a future where everyone is welcomed and included

D&A’s CEO, Atif Choudhury, grew up in Thamesmead in the 1980’s with his Bengali parents, which at the time was the largest council estate in Europe. No stranger to racism, he wrote an open letter to express his solidarity with those that have had enough.

Atif CHoudhury portrait, D&A CEO

Atif Choudhury, CEO Diversity and Ability

With a personal need to express solidarity to all those globally participating in the resistance, I am writing in the hope that we can all safeguard ourselves a little by reaching out to each other and indeed staying responsive to our own fears and hopes. Offering strength for friends, family members, and just as importantly, our learners, many of whom will be feeling the challenges of this moment and the sad resignation that this moment has gone on for over 400 years.

However hard it can be to push ourselves into action; state compliance and apathy disguised as empathy is all too often normalised. It is not enough to not be racist, we must look to decide upon actions that strike down systems and challenge us as overtly anti-racist.

Speaking perhaps from my own experiences in the UK, being reminded of childhood racism as a constant; the masking, the grace and the perseverance needed to not let it cut so deep. I’ve come like so many, to own this issue and carry better hopes for my children, yet I remain surprised when presented by political indifference. Nevertheless, as an organisation, I’m proud that we can do more; be more and insist on change. Committed to inclusion, D&A has never allowed silence to be its mother tongue. Indeed structurally, socially and authentically, our position to address the imbalances of inequality remain global in its intent.

Yet despite such heartfelt values, the reality of watching the US events unfold from afar is meaningless when it all too often happens in the UK too. I hope for many to acknowledge this and globally see a change that ensures we all hear the stifled voices that struggle to be heard, and even breathe.

“Until then, it remains painful to watch and ever more dehumanising to ignore”

Campaign banners: "Celebrate difference" & "Paving the way for a future where everyone is welcomed and included"

D&A campaign banners


Below is a list of resources to support black voices and to get educated. White supremacy infects every area of our lives, it needs to be recognised, unlearned and dismantled. We need to challenge racism by speaking up, deepening knowledge, skilling up, funding and defunding services, attacking complicity, calling it out, getting uncomfortable and rebuilding with respect.

Donate: UK orgs

Donate: US orgs


UK Articles

Racist history of the police in UK and US

Know your rights/ guidance to deal with police


  • Assata – Assata Shakur
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Me and White Supremacy – Layla F. Saad
  • All About Love – Bell Hooks
  • The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
  • Sister Outsider – Audre Lorde
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? – Angela Y. Davis
  • A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story – Elaine Brown
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Support online/ follow/ pay

Educational tools – Social Media

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