2018: Let’s Build for One Another

The first post of the year took awhile for me to write. I could say this was due to a hectic holiday schedule, me winding up my graduate studies or starting a new internship, but that would be a lie. The real difficulty came after I asked myself one simple question: “What do you say to people that are exhausted of fighting to exist every day?” The past year has felt like it dragged along with each new political development making us feel as though the people around us fail to see our value. Disabled fought for the nations healthcare and in return were forgotten when it came time to support the Americans with Disabilities Act. Not all hope is lost, but, again, what do I say to people to people whose souls are tired?

I have your back.

I have your back and I know you have mine. I feel your aching bones like I can feel my own and you don’t have to carry that weight alone. Where the world desires to put us away in homes, I see you and know you still exist. I know what it’s like to cry out of anger and frustration and I can hear you from blocks, miles and continents away.

Maysoon Zayid and Imani Barbarin meet.

Hold fast to the fact that we are one another’s strength and let us come to the assistance of those that fall and falter. For longer than we can remember, we have used one another’s knowledge to invite disabled person after disabled person to the table. And we continue to do so in this digital age. Let’s go even further and vow to be intersectional in our advocacy and recognize the ways race, gender, sexuality, age, and ways in which our disabilities present themselves changes the way we navigate the world. Lets listen to these experiences. Just to listen so the person sharing knows they’re being heard. That someone cares.

Let’s build. Let’s create in the face of our pain, let’s create because of it, let it soothe us. Let’s collaborate as best we can. Let’s lift one another’s voices and check in with one another from time to time.

And, finally, let’s celebrate once in a while. The little things and big, the hopes come to fruition and the goals realized. Let’s continue to build the community we need to get get through. Let’s build it for one another.


  1. Well-said, Imani. In the wake of the election, I was forced to reevaluate and largely recalibrate my relationship to my country. Prior to the election, I was optimistically hopeful, and perhaps naive, about my prospects and future. I’m still hopeful, but the naivete and rose-colored glasses are gone, and I no longer miss them. After the election, I was forced to recognize that the United States doesn’t particularly care at all about my life, liberty or happiness, nor about the life, liberty and happiness of its other disabled citizens. But I find strength in knowing that, despite the fact that my country and government are hostile, indifferent, or hostilely indifferent to my existence, I can still thrive. In fact, in the face of that dismissal, our survival and our helping of others to survive and thrive- might just be the most revolutionary thing we can do.

    Also, in that spirit, I want to add that you inspire me- and I don’t mean that expression in the vapid way that the abled so often use it with us- i.e. “You’re inspiring!” as a self-congratulatory phrase devoid of meaning. I mean that literally. I was looking at American University in Paris’s course offerings. I have decided to learn French. And I think after my current degree is concluded, I want to go to AUP for a double master’s in French and in International Diplomacy. You opened up that possibility for me because I thought, “If Imani can navigate Paris as a disabled person, then why can’t I?” So you have inspired me– literally! And I thank you.

    1. Ok, now I’m crying. I’m so happy you are on this path and I am so honored by your support. Shoot me an email using the contact form and we can talk more about grad school and any questions you may have.

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