Today, the Autistic People of Color Fund honors Disability Pride Month by releasing its 2022 Community Policy Priorities Report, the first such report specifically focusing only on autistic people of color’s priorities.
Drawing from community surveys conducted between the winter and spring of 2022, the report identifies five strategic areas that the Fund will elevate under the leadership of incoming Policy and Advocacy Director Finn Gardiner: (1) health equity, (2) food justice, (3) economic security, (4) housing justice, and (5) education justice.
For too long, autistic people’s basic human rights have been violated by regressive laws, policies, and practices at the local, national, and global levels, within private institutions, and as a result of ableist interpersonal encounters at the individual level. Autistic people of color, in particular, face heighted ostracization, marginalization, and vulnerability due to intersectional discrimination arising from global white supremacy, racialized capitalism, and structural racism.
“Austic people of color are some of the most exploited, vulnerable people in the world,” said the Fund’s outgoing Policy and Advocacy Director Tony Alexander, one of the report’s authors. “Once the wrongs against autistic people of color are addressed, and action is taken to ensure they are protected against ableist, classist, racist, and other forms of oppression, society as a whole will shift for the better. I am ecstatic because the Fund started as a mutual aid organization. This is our first ever policy priorities report and our work in this area has the potential to create long-term, systemic change that will ensure autistic people of color are ensured their basic rights and able to live out fulfilling lives.”
The report identifies multiple policy objectives, including:
- Advocating for continued and expanded access to remote and virtual healthcare services, such as telehealth visits
- Expanding autistic people of color’s food assistance benefits and increasing enrollment for low-income autistic people of color within food assistance programs
- Ending subminimum wages for all disabled people, along with subminimum wages for tipped and incarcerated workers who are disproportionately disabled people of color
- Advocating for restorative justice practices that address serious issues in schools without resorting to restraints, seclusion, suspension, or expulsions – disciplinary actions that disproportionately and negatively impact Black, Brown and disabled students
- Creating solidarity with other autistic people of color led organizations within and outside of the United States, as well as organizations and people who work on intersectional issues, such as within the queer and trans communities where disabled people comprise a higher percentage of the population
- Increasing the number of public health authority inspection visits during pandemics at sites where higher-risk, immunosuppressed, and immunocompromised people live so as to ensure better compliance with health and safety standards
- Connecting autistic people of color to their local Protection & Advocacy Systems agencies, which provide lega, technical and training assistance
Though the Fund is an organization created by autistic people of color for the wellbeing of autistic people of color, these policy advocacy priorities will benefit the cross-disability community and even nondisabled people. The Fund’s approach to policy advocacy situates this work firmly within the principles and praxis of nonreformist reform, harm reduction, and disability justice informed policy advocacy.
Report authors: Tony Alexander, Oluwatobi Maeyen Odugunwa, Lydia X. Z. Brown, and Finn Gardiner, with assistance from Shreya Iyer