Systems of Power, Axes of Inequity: Parallels, Intersections, Braiding the Strands

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This commentary builds on work examining the impacts of racism on health to identify parallels and intersections with regard to able-ism and health. The “Cliff Analogy” framework for distinguishing between five levels of health intervention is used to sort the Healthy People 2020 goals on Disability and Health along an array from medical care to addressing the social determinants of equity. Parallels between racism and able-ism as systems of power, similarities and differences between “race” and disability status as axes of inequity, intersections of “race” and disability status in individuals and in communities, and the promise of convergent strength between the anti-racism community and the disability rights community are highlighted. With health equity defined as assurance of the conditions for optimal health for all people, it is noted that achieving health equity requires valuing all individuals and populations equally, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and providing resources according to need.

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