Perspective of a White Female Professor: Special Issue of Inclusion on Intersectionality of Race and Disability
Colleen A. Thoma, PhD, FAAIDD, Professor, Department of Counseling and Special Education, Virginia Commonwealth University & Co-Editor, Inclusion
When my Co-Editor asked me to contribute to the latest special issue of Inclusion, I asked myself what I could contribute to the dialogue on the disparities faced by Black children, youth, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)? While an experienced researcher, I am still a novice at using a disability and critical race theoretical framework. I have learned a great deal about the biases and systemic barriers experienced by Black youth and their families. But it takes more than just documenting barriers; we must stop admiring the problem and start working to solve it.
Khalilah Robinson Johnson, Matthew Bogenschutz, and Kierra Peak (2021) provide guidance on improving research and have called out researchers for failing to give voice to those who are the focus of research studies, using “fuzzy” terminology and groupings, and assuming that because a marginalized group is included in our population, we have understood their experiences in context.
Moving forward, I will be making several changes. First, my intervention research studies, will be designed with Black youth to improve transition outcomes, to provide access to transition education and services to help them achieve their dreams for adult life, and to remove barriers.
Next, as co-editor of Inclusion, my new goals are to publish research that has an impact on Black communities, involves those who are the focus of study at all stages of the research (not merely as participants), and that results in articles that give voice to those who have been marginalized. Please join me in this work so others can learn and improve outcomes for Black children, youth, and adults with IDD.