What We Are About

Mission Statement

To be an inter/national space by and for Disabled LGBTQ2SIA+ people, sex worker/trafficking survivors, and Black, Indigenous, Multiracial, and other People of Color to develop leadership capacities, create and display/perform interdisciplinary art, transmit Disabled culture, collaborate with and support other groups/organizations with similar values and goals, build community, and more through a Disability Justice lens. From our beds and our ventilators, we think generationally and work for liberation and a reindigenized world.

We are a Portland OR-based, inter/national Disability Justice gathering space that focuses on disabled art, justice, culture, leadership, and more, by and for Queer and Trans (QT) + sex workers and trafficking survivors + Black, Indigenous, Multiracial, and People of Color (BIPOC).

One of our main goals is to become a TRANSFORMATIVE ANTI-OPPRESSIONS ORGANIZATION. We are doing this by beginning our work with a Disabled BIPOC Community Advisory Committee and community-driven Disability Justice Dreaming Sessions. One tool we use is the PEOPLE’S SOLUTION LENS.

Who is involved so far: Board of Directors: Rebel Sidney Fayola Black Burnett (President), Amanda Boman-Mejía (Treasurer), Deanna Parvin Yadollahi (Secretary), William Rain-Shadid, Esther Kim; as well as all our community members who participate in Dreaming Sessions to keep us grounded.

Territory Acknowledgement: Disability Justice Dreaming is grounded on the forcibly ceded lands of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes, bands, and nations who made their homes and trading centers along Nchi-wana (“The Big River”), whose ancestors and present-day peoples have cared for these lands, waters, and living beings since time immemorial, and for whom these lands, waters, and living beings are vital to their cultures, ceremonies, and traditions to this day.

Call to Action: We ask you to SEARCH FOR WHOSE LANDS YOU ARE ON and think about your role in coming to be there. You may live on your own ancestral lands, you may be an occupier of lands whose original caretakers were given no choice in your existence there. Maybe you or your ancestors were forcibly moved or forcibly taken from your own ancestral lands. Reflect and act on your responsibilities to Indigenous peoples given this information.

Our Origins: While Disability Justice Dreaming officially began in 2021, it is the  culmination of founder Rebel Sidney Black’s Disability Justice organizing, with trust and permission from, and in collaboration with, local, national, and international most-impacted Disability communities.

In 2017, Rebel participated in Northwest Health Foundation’s Disability Justice Leaders Collaborative. In 2019, Rebel founded Portland Disability Justice Collective, a mutual aid group. In 2020, he organized the As We Are: Disability Justice and Community Care conference. In 2021 and 2022, he spent almost 1 year supporting and leading Disability Art and Culture Project. This year, he has been invited to Vancouver BC by artist Carmen Papalia to participate in “Provisional Structure 1” by bringing Disability Justice Dreaming Sessions to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Rebel also has a BA in Nonprofit Arts Administration.

While this history describes Rebel’s Disability Justice-related achievements, woven throughout this story are remarkable relationships being found and forged–relationships that strengthen Disability Justice Dreaming’s direction.

The 2020 conference impacted many people, including Rebel. He would not have had the courage to come into his power as a leader in the Disability Justice movement had it not been for the incredible feedback and relationships that came out of the 2020 As We Are conference.

There were really only a handful of people who helped him, two of those being Grant Miller and Jonathan Paradox Lee of The Curiosity Paradox. They provided much-needed emotional and reflective support and input during that time, and during the Disability Art and Culture Project year as well.

Deanna Parvin Yadollahi began CripCreate with The Curiosity Paradox, and it eventually settled with Disability Justice Dreaming with support from Claudia Alick of Calling Up Justice. Grant, Jonathan, Deanna, Claudia, and I all supported Disability/Representation (Dis/Rep) 2021 as facilitators and access artists. Grant, Jonathan, Claudia, Rebel, and Luticha Andre Doucette facilitated Dis/Rep 2022. Rebel met Cheryl Green, who is a meticulous captioner and transcriber, through Disability Art and Culture Project where she is a sitting board member. We hope to bring Cheryl’s skill to our own organization, to caption and transcribe our programming.

Rebel has known William Rain-Shadid for over a decade; William has been doing Disability Justice work for decades, long before it was formalized. Knowing William’s goofy brilliance, Rebel invited them to apply to the Disability Justice Dreaming Board of Directors. Amanda Boman-Mejia and Catherine St. John attended a Disability Justice-focused leadership school that Rebel’s partner attended, and both showed a persistent and active interest in supporting local Disability Justice work. Rebel has known Esther Kim for years as well, and their politics align. Finally, Carmen Papalia–a Vancouver B.C. artist–was extremely touched by the 2020 Conference, and being touched that way has led to collaborations and a mutual respect and care.

These relationships represent those of Board members, volunteers, and community members, all of whom shape Disability Justice Dreaming’s past, present, and future.

While we have a rich history, the leadership team of Disability Justice Dreaming is still gently coalescing and learning our roles together in a collective framework.