Last fall, Darren Walker wrote an essay urging all of us to acknowledge our personal biases and to understand how those biases can fuel injustice and inequality. Darren’s call grew out of his own awakening: the realization, brought to light by friends and activists, that for all the foundation’s attention to challenging inequality, we hadn’t accounted for the huge community of people living with disabilities. It was a humbling moment, he wrote.
As the past year has shown, it has also proved to be a consequential one. It quickly became clear that our focus on inequality demands that we think seriously about disability issues. It became equally clear that across all our programs, the specific outcomes and goals we’re working to achieve simply cannot be accomplished without addressing the needs, concerns, and priorities of people with disabilities. And so, guided by the disability movement’s mantra, “Nothing about us without us,” we’ve been working to confront ableism and expand participation and inclusion on both the institutional and the individual levels. It turned out we had a lot to learn.