Unity for Disability Power: Envisioning Mental Health Justice

Transcript of my speech at the #ADAPTtakesCHI rally and march 4/12/17

As I share this microphone today I speak alongside stories of strength, power and resilience. Stories of what we’ve accomplished, and what is yet to be done. Today, I would like us to imagine our better future together. I would like to see our movement filled with the audacity and enthusiasm of a people who know that they are right, are believe they will win. Because I believe that we will win.

This is the better future I seek:

I seek a future where we are all given equal access to healthcare — where we receive informed, competent care regardless of size, race, class, gender, or diagnosis.

I seek a future where mental illness is treated with the same urgency and compassion as a broken bone. I seek a future where mental illness is no longer treated as a crime.

Where the police are demilitarized and first responders are given training for competent and compassionate care in a mental health crisis. I believe we will win it.


I know what happens when an unchecked, militarized police force handles a mental health crisis. I have survived it. A first hand witness to its brutality, I am a survivor of abuse at the hands of people sworn to protect, who got away with it because they knew my voice wouldn’t matter. I stand in front of you a survivor of a shattered system.

Police violence and institutional abuse are too often a reality of our experience. I carry scars; I am poisoned by trauma from this broken system. I found wellness despite it. I pray for better. I still believe we will win.

I am a survivor of state violence and institutional neglect and so I envision a future where people like me may be free from it. So that what I went through will never happen again. I pray for better. I believe we will win.


I seek an end to prisons and a massive restructuring of mental health care in marginalized communities. I seek the decriminalization of mental illness, of people living with HIV+AIDS. I seek the decriminalization of addiction. I seek culturally competent mental health care in every neighborhood. I seek economic and racial justice as a first step towards healthy communities. I seek fundamental change. I seek abolition. I believe we will win.