Making Voting Accessible Means Millions More Votes

Lilian Aluri, REV UP Voting Campaign Coordinator

This blog was originally posted by US Vote Foundation on their blog and reposted with permission as part of a series of blogs. The US Vote Foundation recently published their Resources for Voters with Disabilities initiative in honor of Disability Voting Rights Week.

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38 Million. That’s the number of eligible voters with disabilities in the U.S. This week, September 12-16, is Disability Voting Rights Week. Learn why the disability vote matters and how you work to build the power of the disability vote with us.

Disabled voters make up one of the largest voting blocs in the country. Many politicians and lawmakers prefer to think of us as passive members of society, content to be left out of the political process. But this could not be farther from the truth.

Disabled people are activists and organizers, candidates and voters, caregivers and recipients of care, community leaders and volunteers, patients and doctors, employees and CEOs. We have many reasons to care about elections and how they impact our lives. The people and policies we vote on impact our access to transportation, employment, healthcare, community, privacy, and so much more.

Even though voters with disabilities have many reasons to vote in elections, there is still a 6% turnout gap between voters with and without disabilities. This means that fewer people with disabilities are voting than non-disabled people. Our community has less of a say in the very policies that impact our lives. This doesn’t mean that disabled voters are less politically engaged than voters without disabilities. Access barriers create this turnout gap.

Some barriers that keep disabled voters from participating in elections include inaccessibility at every part of the voting process, discrimination from others, exclusion from the political process by candidates and campaigns, and social isolation from digital and physical access barriers to the community.

Disability Voting Rights Week, September 12-16, 2022, - on the right of the text is a blue and white and red ballot box with a blue fist on one side.

In 2016, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) launched the REV UP Voting Campaign and Disability Voting Rights Week to address this gap in voting outreach and advocacy. REV UP builds the power of the disability vote through grassroots coalition building, voting outreach to disabled voters, and advocating for more accessible voting.

Closing the 6% voter turnout gap between people with and without disabilities would mean close to 2 million more votes from people with disabilities. Learn how you can join REV UP in making sure disabled voters are registered and ready to vote and have access to the ballot in 2022 and beyond!

Find REV UP at and on social media at @RevUPCampaign.

Action Alert: Ask Your Senators to Confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson!

April 04, 2022

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was just voted out of committee and is poised to become the first Black woman Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, pending a full vote by the Senate.  Today, we are calling on our network to take action by reaching out to your Senators and pushing them to ensure the fair, swift, and bipartisan confirmation vote that Judge Jackson deserves.

Read AAPD’s press release applauding the vote advancing Judge Jackson out of committee and AAPD’s press release celebrating her nomination. To learn more about her track record on disability and civil rights you can read the Bazelon Center’s research memo on Judge Jackson’s decisions.

Take action by contacting your Senator through phone, email, or social media and urging them to confirm Judge Jackson!

Dial 888-852-7561 and the #ConfirmJackson hotline will connect you to your local Senator or tag your Senator on Twitter and use the #ConfirmJackson hashtag. 

Sample Email/ Phone Script:

Hello, My name is [Your name]. 

I am contacting you today to urge you to support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Jackson’s personal and professional experiences will increase public trust in our courts and improve judicial decision making on a number of issues, including disability rights. 

In numerous decisions, from her time as a federal public defender to her service on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Jackson has shown deep appreciation for our nation’s disability rights laws. She has represented defendants with mental health disabilities and ensured that they would receive a fair day in court. She has ruled on many cases that affirm people with disabilities deserve equal opportunities for participation in our workplaces, government programs, and places of public accommodation. 

As a member of the disability community, my life has been directly impacted by the decisions of the Supreme Court. It is important to me that the Supreme Court understands the importance of disability rights and civil rights more broadly, and Judge Jackson has demonstrated that she does. All Americans will benefit from Judge Jackson’s presence on the Supreme Court!

Sample Tweets: 

[@Your Senator] the #SCOTUS decisions impact people with disabilities & Judge Jackson has exhibited an exemplary track record on disability & civil rights along with a dedication to equity. We deserve a Justice like Judge Jackson. Vote yes to #ConfirmJackson #CripTheVote

[@Your Senator] I am calling on you to recognize Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s exceptional record and to deliver the fair and swift confirmation vote that she deserves. We need a Supreme Court that will represent all Americans. #ConfirmJackson #CripTheVote

We need [@Your Senator] to #ConfirmJackson, not only for a more reflective and equitable Supreme Court but also so that we can have a highly qualified Justice that is impartial and fully dedicated to disability and civil rights for all. America needs Judge Jackson. #CripTheVote

My Hopes For the State of the Union

By Rachita Singh | AAPD Policy Associate | February 28, 2022

On March 1, 2022 President Biden is set to deliver his first official State of the Union address.

He gives this address as we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearing a million COVID-related deaths, and yet people are still unsure of guidance on masks, vaccines, and quarantining. While Congress did pass some significant legislation this year, like the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, other vital pieces of legislation, like the Build Back Better Act, have stalled in negotiations. Americans have been left to wonder if there will be further action taken to enhance and expand access to home-and community-based services, as we continue to see overwhelmed waitlists and underpaid direct support staff. We have been left questioning what the future of our democracy will be as states continue to make efforts to suppress the votes of disabled people and of people of color. President Biden will also deliver this address as Russia continues to invade Ukraine and force a mass displacement of Ukrainian people. President Biden should deliver an address that provides clarity on many of these issues and presents a series of actionable solutions his administration plans to pursue. As a disabled Brown woman, here are my hopes for what President Biden will highlight in his first State of the Union Address: 

  1. Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) 

The fight for full and appropriate funding for home- and community-based services (HCBS) has been decades in the making, and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda provided significant hope that we would see progress in reducing HCBS waiting lists, increasing direct support worker wages, and improving the quality of available services. Although this priority may be stalled in Congress, it is of vital importance to the disability community. Progress towards this goal is essential to rebuilding our economy and to giving people with disabilities, direct support workers, and our families a fair shot. Expanding access to HCBS will help close to one million people with disabilities and seniors who are waiting for this money in order to come off the waiting lists and receive the support they need in the homes and communities they love. Furthermore, care providers and direct support professionals deserve the wages and benefits that the funding includes. We’ve waited decades for this necessary support – in his address, the President needs to signal that he’s listening and that we don’t have to wait any longer.

  1. Prioritizing People with Disabilities in Continued Pandemic Response

The COVID-19 virus and its variants have now resulted in almost a million deaths, an unknown number of new disabilities from Long COVID, and damaging economic, mental, and social impacts that people, particularly multiply-marginalized people, have endured. While no one has gone completely unaffected, the disability community has definitely borne the brunt of the pandemic – not only because we are more vulnerable to the virus, but also because of existing inequities in our healthcare, workforce, and education systems that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.  COVID has been and continues to be a mass disabling event. Long COVID has caused people across the nation to have to learn how to navigate the world in completely new ways. A lack of access to regular health care during the pandemic, has caused many conditions to decline or treatable diseases to go unchecked. All too frequently, Americans have noticed that their mental health worsened during the pandemicThis is especially true for young adults and children, and we need to make sure that we are addressing these needs in our nation’s responses to COVID-19. I want to hear President Biden prioritize the disability community, when he discusses how his team has handled and will continue to handle COVID-19. I will not be satisfied with a single mention of “disability” in the State of the Union address, nor will I be satisfied with a single sentence. I want to hear how disabled people are being centered in the COVID response as we expect students to go back to school in person without having the option to continue remote education as an accommodation. I want to know what considerations will be made for the disabled people who are now expected to safely be able to interact in our communities without the presence of mask mandates, expected to utilize telehealth despite the lack of accessibility on telehealth platforms, and expected to struggle in the workplace with symptoms of Long COVID because they cannot access disability benefits.  

  1. Addressing Racial Justice, Police Violence, and the Rise of Hate Crimes

When discussing systemic discrimination and marginalization, race and disability cannot be separated. While the Biden administration has done better than others in hiring people from diverse identities as federal appointees, more significant action must be taken to protect Black, Indigenous, and other poeple of color from further discrimination and violence. During the first year of the Biden administration, Black and Brown communities have continued to encounter police violence. Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Americans continue to experience hate crimes at unprecedented rates. State legislatures across the country have and continue to institute new legislation suppressing voters of color, yet critical legislation to address voting rights at the federal level has repeatedly failed or stalled in the Senate. Given the prevalence of disability in every community, these issues are not just racial issues, but disability justice issues as well. I want President Biden to discuss how he will direct his administration’s energy into addressing criminal justice reform and protections for these communities, openly condemn white supremacy, and commit to move forward with efforts to end voter suppression in order to protect the voting rights of millions across the nation.

  1. Eliminating Subminimum Wage and Promoting Disability Employment 

I am sure that a core message of President Biden’s address will be the need to grow the economy for the lower and middle classes, a message that was essential to his campaign. In 2021, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was still more than twice the rate of people without disabilities (10.6% compared to 4.9%). Not only do people with disabilities participate in the labor force at lower rates, those who are employed experience lower rates of pay compared to their non-disabled peers. One of the reasons for this gap in pay is Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Through 14(c), employers are allowed to pay subminimum wage to employees with disabilities, i.e. they can pay however little they choose to. It has been more than 80 years since the Fair Labor Standards Act was signed into law, and despite the development of disability employment civil rights protections and enormous advancements in accessibility, this discriminatory rule is still in place. Even today, the allowance of subminimum wage reinforces stereotypes that people with disabilities are inherently less productive and diminishes our skills and contributions. I desperately hope to hear President Biden say that as part of his plan to strengthen the economy for average Americans, he will finally eliminate subminimum wage on behalf of all workers everywhere. 

  1. Acknowledge The Link Between Disability, War, and Supporting Refugees 

War and disability are inherently linked. War creates disability – not only through those who become injured and disabled during the conflict, but also through the trauma that war creates as civilians live through war, witness destruction and bloodshed, and are often forced to flee their homes. This should be a consideration in the support that the United States provides Ukrainian refugees. We already know that more than half a million refugees have fled Ukraine in the wake of Russian violence. The nature of their displacement will cause many of these refugees to become disabled. For those who are able to flee, women will be at greater risk for gender-based violence, and children will face physical harm and severe emotional distress. While the United States has already committed money to aid in the response to the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, I want to hear President Biden speak to how U.S. aid will foster greater accessibility of refugee shelters, how it will help ensure access to healthcare that is responsive to refugees with complex medical needs, and how it will keep families connected, regardless of an individual’s communication or access needs.

Black (Disability) History: Past, Present, & Future.

By Rasheera Dopson, AAPD Intern

Today marks the final day of Black History Month. Understanding and celebrating Black history is an integral part of truly understanding American history. Commemorating Black history dates all the way back to the early 1900s. Previously referred to as “Negro History week,” the practice of formally celebrating and acknowledging Black history was initiated as a movement to acknowledge Black achievement. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, the celebration of Black history has grown into a full 28 days and is recognized in the United States as well as abroad in countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada. 

The line of achievement among Black Americans is a crucial thread that holds the American fabric together. Black American achievement and excellence is even more remarkable when considering how it has occurred against a backdrop of structural and interpersonal racism and anti-Blackness, oppression, and harm. In preventing the erasure of Black history, the continued fight for visibility and representation of the Black American experience remains a priority. 

From states attempting to pass legislation banning the teaching of Black history in schools to the recognition of racism as a public health issue, the invitation to honor Black history and Black presence in our society is louder than ever. In lifting up a few of the many examples of Black history and leadership that should be celebrated, I wanted to create a space where Black voices are amplified and a spectrum of black experiences are shared. To honor Black history, today I am highlighting “Black Disability.”

Black Disability is what I like to refer to as a subsection of the Black experience that not only looks at disability through a Black lens, but also illustrates the intersection of a double minority identity that is often hidden within the Black community. This group of golden gems deserve to have their stories told and for their experiences to be recognized by the Black community as a whole.  Here at AAPD we’re recognizing Black Disability History by honoring its “Past, Present and Future.”

1. Fannie Lou Hamer – Born in Mississippi in 1917, Fannie Lou Hamer, daughter of sharecroppers, found her path to activism from her lived experience. Hamer had polio as a child and became further disabled following a brutal briefing in a Mississippi jail. She also faced a form of medical abuse that was committed against thousands of other black women at the time and countless disabled people throughout history when she became a victim of forced sterilization. Later, Hamer attended a civil rights meeting held by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), where she became involved in the voting rights movement as a community organizer. She went on to co-found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) in 1964, helped organize the Freedom Summer of 1964, and in 1971, helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus. Her grassroots work left an indelible mark on Mississippi and paved the way for voting rights for hundreds of thousands in her local communities and nationally. AAPD also has an initiative named after Hamer, the Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program. This program is designed for young (ages 18 – 30) Black disabled advocates who are committed to boosting voter registration and civic engagement across Black communities leading up to elections.

2.  Donald GallowayBorn in 1938 in Washington, D.C., Donald Galloway became blind in an accident in his early teens. Despite his injury, Donald found pride in his disability, and molded his experiences into tangible leadership roles, becoming an advocate for disability rights. He became a junior member at the NAACP, and also served as a junior member for the National Federation of the Blind. Galloway received his master’s degree in social work and became heavily engaged in Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living. From his time spent in community activism, Galloway rose through the ranks to become a leader at the Center for Independent Living branch in Washington D.C. One of the most landmark moments in Galloway’s activism was when he advocated for representation in the D.C. Superior Court. After receiving a jury summons, Galloway was dismissed from consideration as a juror on the grounds that he was unable to fulfill his civic duty because he could not see. Galloway fought back, filing a lawsuit against the District, which found in 1993 that dismissing a juror on the basis of disability was unconstitutional. His advocacy efforts challenged systems and enabled the voices of those most vulnerable to be heard in an impactful way. 

3. Brad Lomax– Born in 1950 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Brad Lomax was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during his freshman year of college and became a wheelchair user. He quickly discovered that many buildings were inaccessible to him. He also got involved with the D.C. chapter of the Black Panther party and helped organize the 1972 Africa Liberation movement on the National Mall. In 1973 he moved to Berkeley, California, where, after encountering issues to access public transportation, he decided to get involved in the local disability movement. He advocated for more resources for Black people with disabilities — partnering with the Black Panther party to bring resources to Black communities in east Oakland. In 1977, he was among the activists who executed an historic sit-in at the San Francisco Federal Building to urge Section 504-Rehabilitation Act of 1973. His actions ensured that activists were clothed, fed, and provided adequate shelter during times of protest, an effort which the Black Panthers and other grassroots organizations contributed to during the Section 504 sit-in. His commitment to the disability rights movement helped set the stage for major transformation and actionable change for generations to come.  

4Claudia Gordon- Born in Jamaica in 1972, Claudia Gordon is the first known deaf Black woman to earn a Juris Doctorate in the United States. Gordon lost her hearing at the age of eight and was removed from school to do chores at home. Growing up in Jamaica, Gordon faced significant discrimination at young age due to her deafness. She immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 11 and returned to formal education at the Lexington school for deaf in New York City.  She later went on to attend Howard University where she received her B.A. in political science, and to American University College of Law. After her law school graduation, she worked as a senior policy advisor for the Department of Homeland Security. Her notable work began to gain traction as she advocated for disabled people during Hurricane Katrina. She was then called upon by the White House to serve as a public engagement advisor working with the disability community. Gordon continues to blaze trails for black and brown disabled people across the nation. In 2002, she was a recipient of AAPD’s Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award. 

5. Tatiana Lee– is an award-winning actress, model, and activist born with Spina Bifida. Growing up in Coatesville Pennsylvania, Lee felt underrepresented in media and entertainment, and began to utilize social media strategy to  In being vocal about disability visibility Lee has leveraged social media to not only raise awareness but to expand her platform for other disabled artists. She is the voice of the AccessibleHollywood brand, Lee’s award-winning work can be seen in films such as Footloose, Jade, and Together & Better. Her modeling campaigns can be seen in ads at Target, Zappos, and more. Her commitment to creating a more inclusive Hollywood has created opportunity for and awareness of other emerging disabled entertainers. She continues to speak, advise, consult, and educate others in film and media, including with companies like Netflix and The Walt Disney Company. 

6. Dr. Feranmi OkanlamiDr. Feranmi Okanlami’s – also known as “Dr. O” – journey in disability advocacy began unexpectedly. During his 4th year surgical residency at Yale University, Dr. O was paralyzed during a swimming incident that caused his life to take a drastic turn. Now, as an advocate for disability inclusion, and especially diversity and inclusion in the field of medicine, Dr. O makes it his mission to ensure that the conversation of disability and diversity are at the table when talking about the experiences of doctors, medical students, and patients. He currently serves as faculty member at Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan and speaks to medical students and practitioners across the nation. 

7.  Wesley Hamilton– Wesley Hamilton founded the non-profit organization “Disabled but Not Really” after becoming disabled when he survived a shooting that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Facing a long journey to recovery, Hamilton made the decision to pivot and use his newly acquired disability status to make a difference for others. Now serving as an advocate in the disability community, Hamilton’s aim is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to inclusive fitness training. In launching his own accessible fitness program, he uses his platform to not only advocate for more inclusive fitness programs for wheelchair users but has also become a champion in speaking out on black disability representation and inclusion and ADA compliance. 

8. Leon Ford– Born in 1993 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Leon Ford became paralyzed in a tragic injustice in which he suffered a case of mistaken identity and was shot by the police five times during a routine traffic stop. At the young age of 19, Ford was brought into the disability community by an act of police brutality. He has since grown and used his platform to speak out against racial injustice, disability discrimination, and to bring a greater understanding of cultural competency and training to law enforcement across the country. He is a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama and was named one of Pittsburgh’s 40 under 40. Ford’s activism highlights the specific injustices experienced by black and disabled people alike. 

9.  Andraéa LaVant– Andraéa LaVant was raised in Louisville Kentucky and diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of 2 years old. She is a communications expert. impact producer, culture creator, and does it all while displaying iconic fashion and accessorizing. She is the founder and President of LaVant Consulting, a social impact communications and strategy consulting firm that helps brands address disability in a confident and competent manner. LaVant has been an active and critical voice in disability advocacy for more than fifteen years, and recently helped produce and led the campaign for the award-winning Oscar-nominated documentary “Crip Camp.” After, as she self-described, spending half her life “running away” from the identifier of disability, today, LaVant leads the way in bringing disability to mainstream media while breaking down our culture of othering and ostracizing disabled people, especially disabled people of color. 

10.  Haben Girma– Born in Oakland California in 1988, Haben Girma is the first deaf-blind woman to graduate from Harvard Law School. Her journey to fighting for the full access and inclusion of individuals with disabilities began in her journey during her undergraduate studies, where she had to advocate for access to her school’s cafeteria lunch menu. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she has written a memoir and consulted for globally recognized companies such as Apple, Microsoft, GE, SXSW, the New York Times and more to improve their accessibility. She believes and states often that “disability is an opportunity to drive innovation”. Girma uses her platform not only to advocate for accessibility, but to create long lasting solutions that benefit the disabled and non-disabled communities as a whole.

AAPD Summer Internship Program Long-Term Evaluation

Please Participate in the Long-Term Evaluation of the AAPD Summer Internship Program 

In Summer 2022, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is excited to celebrate 20 years of the Summer Internship Program. It began in 2002 as a transformative opportunity to bring young people with disabilities across the country to Washington, DC to work in Congressional offices. Throughout the 20 years, AAPD has placed nearly 400 alumni in Congressional offices, federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private companies. We are thrilled to continue this important work in cultivating a strong community of disabled leaders.

In January 2022, AAPD contracted Third Sight, LLC to conduct evaluation services of the Summer Internship Program. Third Sight will assess the program effectiveness and guide continued program improvement for the next 20 years, including program expansion.

The feedback gathered from our alumni, supervisors, mentors, and partners is crucial in expanding the program’s impact on our various stakeholder groups. With this in mind, the goals of the study are to:

  1. Learn about the outcome and impact that the AAPD Summer Internship Program had on the professional career trajectory, education and studies, and personal growth of program alumni.
  2. Understand how the program may have benefitted sponsors, placement site supervisors and employers, and mentors who have supported the Summer Internship Program.
  3. Identify the strengths of the Summer Internship Program and areas for improvement.

The evaluation team will reach out to Summer Internship Program alumni and partners to participate in the study through surveys and interviews. You will be contacted by Third Sight, LLC from with a link to the survey. Please check your inbox for emails from Third Sight. Your responses will be anonymous and kept entirely confidential. 

If you do not receive an email by the end of March, please contact to ensure you are included in this evaluation to share your feedback about the Summer Internship Program. 

We hope you will provide your open and honest feedback to the evaluation team so AAPD can continue to meaningfully improve our program to impact future generations. 

AAPD plans to release the findings in a long-term evaluation impact report in Fall 2022. Please check back on this page for updated information.

The Mouth Painter

Image of a painting of a bearded Black man.

By Morgan Dunn | November 08, 2021

Glenneisha Darkins, better known as Glenn, is a Black quadriplegic artist and mouth painter from Miami, Florida. She was involved in a fatal car accident in 2010 that caused her quadriplegia, and soon after she became determined to change how the world viewed her disability. Two years after her accident, she learned how to mouth paint from other young Black artists on Youtube. By operating breathing controls, navigating brush strokes, and mastering oil painting techniques, her efforts turned into a full-fledged business! She finds inspiration for her paintings from many sources:  her childhood, difficulties she experiences, navigating life, and her surroundings. She later received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis on Women and Gender studies from the Florida Int’l University in 2018.

Glenn’s goal is to inspire and motivate others through her personal story and art. She hopes to educate the world on dismantling the misconceptions of individuals with disabilities and help others feel the courage and strength to discover their purpose and share their stories.

I met Glenn on the audio-based social app ClubHouse; while listening to her perspective on the lack of visibility on black disabled artists, I recognized how her story could positively impact others.

Image of Glenn, a Black quadriplegic woman, in a wheelchair in front of a white tent and a sign with a photo of her and her name.

M: What advice would you give other disabled artists and creatives?

G: I would strongly advise other disabled artists and creatives to please keep going— keep creating and keep sharing your story. Throughout my journey as a disabled artist, I learned discipline and consistency is very much needed. When my purpose looked slow, bleak, I stretched whatever strength I had to find ways to stay creative. All sorts of challenges and obstacles definitely found its way to me, but I also found a way to make it work in my favor. I personally don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or my situation so I strive to be better than I was yesterday. I look at myself as a source of motivation to keep creating what I want and what makes me happy. I found that those same challenges and obstacles makes for a beautiful story to share. You never know who’s watching!

M: What are you looking forward to in the future?

G: I want to continue to create so I’m able to be a household name in museums, in celebrity homes. I want to share my journey on a TedTalk. I honestly just look forward to expanding my art business and staying healthy!

M: What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?

G: I schedule days to be in nature to see how colors complement each other. I listen to music and other creatives via podcasts or Youtube. I’m always looking at tutorials or documentaries on color mixing and oil painting portraits. I’m very motivated by other artists and when I see my earlier work, I challenge myself.

Image of a painting - the background is white, and in the center is a man with black hair and big black beard and white-ish gray skin wearing a gray jacket with gold collar.

M: Thinking about the things you have created, is there something you hated but the public may have loved – and perhaps purchased?

G: Yes, all of my Nipsey portraits. As I’m painting, I see it one way but at a distance, I second guess everything. Instant cringe. I want to do better when I capture him. I’m working on doing practice pieces with only him.

M: Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain

G: No, but criticism has definitely fueled my motivation to prove others wrong. I’m very sensitive when it comes to my art. Sensitive in a way that I’m motivated and inspired to prove to myself I am a real artist. I’m working on being more confident in art that isn’t what people want, but what I like and see as a masterpiece. So critics and negative comments has definitely affected how I approach my work.

M: In your opinion, how can black disabled creatives stay connected to each other? What is missing? What’s already there?

G: As of now, I found social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Twitter are most effective in connecting to disabled artists. I utilized Clubhouse as well. I’m still learning myself but I know that browsing social media sites has connected me to some very dope disabled creatives. I also learned that getting into local events as a vendor helps as well. So, establishing yourself on social media and participating in local events, in my opinion, can help disabled creatives to stay connected.

M: Anything else you’d like to share?

G: Do things for the greater good. Your purpose is bigger than yourself. Stay creative and never give up!

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