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Beacon Press

To Be a Problem: A Black Woman's Survival in the Racist Disability Rights Movement by Dara Baldwin (Hardcover) (PREORDER)

To Be a Problem: A Black Woman's Survival in the Racist Disability Rights Movement by Dara Baldwin (Hardcover) (PREORDER)

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Nonfiction - Social Science - People With Disabilities - Political Science - Public Policy - Social Services & Welfare - Social Science - Race & Ethnic Relations 


Foreward by: Keith P. Jones

A searing critique of the disability rights movement from within, and a call for collective liberation that is pro-Black and centers disabled people of color

For over twenty years, Dara Baldwin has often been the only person of color in the room when significant disability policy decisions are made. Disenfranchisement of people of color and multi-marginalized communities within the disability rights community is not new and has left many inside the community feeling frustrated and erased.

In To Be a Problem, Baldwin candidly shares her journey to becoming a disability activist and policymaker in DC while critiquing the disability rights community. She reveals the reality of erasure for many Black people and people of color in the disability movement and argues that, in turn, many white disabled people center themselves within the work without addressing their own white privilege.

Disability rights groups have been centering white, straight, cisgender people while racial justice groups often fail to center disabled people, leading many Black and Brown disabled people to start their own Disability Justice organizations. Drawing from her unique vantage point, Baldwin calls readers to understand the shortcomings of the disability rights movement while inspiring us to push all movements towards a more inclusive and authentic liberation.


Dara Baldwin is an activist, scholar, and author with over twenty years of experience in policy and social justice work. She currently runs her own equity consulting firm DMadrina, LLC. She formerly held the position of Director of National Policy for the Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR). Baldwin has led multiple national and international advocacy campaigns as an expert in disability laws and policy. She works on Housing and Transportation equity, Criminal Justice, and many other issue areas.

"Dara Baldwin is courageous, committed, the definition of intersectional, and a fierce movement builder. We can learn much from her."  --V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of The Vagina Monologues and Reckoning

" To Be a Problem is a revolutionary text from a unique perspective all too ignored in our society. In a time when dehumanization is on the march, to read a book so rooted in our collective humanity is an absolute gift. Dara Baldwin is a special writer, as anyone who reads these pages will find out for themselves."-Dave Zirin, author of The Kaepernick Effect and sports editor of The Nation

"Dara Baldwin is a visionary organizer who applies her razor-sharp intellect to the task of building movements that include the most marginalized, not as an afterthought but as the only possible route to winning the world we need. This book is a badly needed intervention in our times of overlapping and intersecting crises."--Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and Doppelganger

"Discover the remarkable journey of Dara Baldwin in her manifesto, where she fearlessly challenges the disability rights movement, advocating for disability justice and amplifying the voices of disabled BIPOC. Her passionate call for change will leave you inspired to champion a more inclusive and equitable world."--Brittany K. Barnett, author of A Knock. at Midnight

"Baldwin makes plain that the Americans with Disabilities Act is about more than doors and ramps. It is the minimum required to build a truly inclusive society where we all participate . If you want to understand what disability justice, solidarity, and intersectionality are, and if you want to know how to show up in the movement for an inclusive multiracial democracy, read this book."--Zach Norris, author of Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment

"Dara Baldwin is an incredibly dynamic leader who embodies the true meaning of solidarity and understands intersectionality better than almost anyone. Dara's voice, and this book, is so unique and critical in this moment."--Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage

"As spirited an author as she is an activist, Dara Baldwin brings tenacity, passion, and an intimate insight into the racial landscape of the disability rights movement. To Be a Problem not only demystifies the notion of a monolithic movement for disability rights but brings to clarity how the overlapping intersections of race and racism, Blackness and gender, leave many disabled individuals stuck at the margins, invisible, and silenced. This book reads like a freedom song for these overlooked segments of the disability rights movement(s), with Dara Baldwin crafting lyrics that speak hope and courage to readers."--Khaled A. Beydoun, law professor and author of Islamophobia

"I would regularly see Dara Baldwin in the halls of Congress as she did the hard work of lobbying for disability rights. Her frustration was not just with Congress but also with her own disability movement, which she found to be racist, insulting, and oppressive. Her hard-hitting exposé will hopefully lead to reflection and transformation, not only in that movement but in all of our movements that continue to be plagued by elitism and white privilege."--Medea Benjamin, peace activist and cofounder of CODEPINK

"From Dara Baldwin's powerful storytelling in this book, one learns about history that is far too often white-washed, leaving out the powerful contributions of Black women including Lois Curtis and the roles of key figures such as Asian American advocate Yoshiko Dart. Baldwin also clearly names the problematic tendency to compare disparate historical moments across our identities that falsely equate our nation's history with enslaving Black people with its failures to provide access to disabled people. Baldwin provides example after example of how she has spoken truth to power, educated others, and persisted through problematic and hurtful experiences as a DC activist and lobbyist for disability justice. This book is a testament to Baldwin's family, faith, courage, and the many times she has brought race into necessary rooms through her presence and through naming things that are far too often unsaid, in the hope of creating more authentic movements by and for those of us who are multi-marginalized."--Sunu P. Chandy, civil rights attorney and author of My Dear Comrades

"Dara Baldwin's To Be a Problem is an incisive book that helps build necessary connections between all of our movements with the disability rights movements. Clear and filled with purpose, Dara's voice cuts to the heart of what needs to change while also opening a pathway to how Black feminists like Dara are the foundation of the solution. Her commitment to intersectional col-liberation rings true, and this book is a wonderful addition to the library of all changemakers."--Thenmozhi Soundararajan, author of The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition

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