Director of Minority Outreach, Not Dead Yet
Anita Cameron is a disability justice activist who has been involved in social change activism and community organizing for 41 years. Anita is Director of Minority Outreach for Not Dead Yet. She has met with national and state policy makers and written persuasively about opposition to a public policy of assisted suicide from the perspective of communities of color who experience disparities in access to healthcare. Anita’s work and articles were cited in the 2019 National Council on Disability report on the dangers of assisted suicide as public policy.
Anita is a national organizer with ADAPT and has been arrested 140 time for nonviolent civil disobedience fighting for the civil rights of all disabled people. She was invited to the White House on three occasions, has met three sitting U.S. Presidents, two Vice-Presidents, and helped to organize a national march.
Anita has 39 years of experience in transportation issues affecting disabled people and has served on numerous transportation advisory committees and commissions around the country. Anita has also served on mayors and governors commissions on disability in Illinois, Colorado and the District of Columbia.
Anita has worked in California, Colorado, Maryland and New York and Washington, DC, to ensure that disabled people can vote, serve as poll workers, precinct captains and election officials. She also worked at the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) in Washington, DC, as the DC Metro Disability Vote Organizer.
She worked as Systems Advocate for the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY, addressing a broad range of disability rights and access issues with advocates and lawmakers at the local, state and national levels.
Anita trained to become a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member and became the first blind CERT instructor for the State of Colorado as well as a CERT Program Manager for the State. Anita has written extensively, for numerous agencies and publications, on emergency and disaster preparedness for people with disabilities.
Anita also serves on the National Disability Leadership Alliance’s Steering Committee as well as its Racism Taskforce.
My name is Anita Cameron. I’m a 57 year old Black woman with multiple disabilities. I am a disability justice activist. For 37 years, I have organized with ADAPT, a national, grassroots disability organization known for direct action and nonviolent civil disobedience. I have participated in historic actions, like the 1990 Capitol Crawl and Rotunda takeover, pushing successfully for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the 2017 fight to save Medicaid, where disabled people were dragged out of congressional offices. I have been arrested 140 times fighting for civil and human rights for the disability community. My experiences shape my views against assisted suicide.
In 2009, while living in Washington state, my mother was determined to have end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and placed in hospice. Her doctor had her so convinced that she was dying that after six months in hospice, she moved home to Colorado to die. Six weeks later, she and I were arrested together in Washington, DC, fighting for disability rights. After that, she became active in her community and lived almost twelve years more.
Assisted suicide is dangerous especially for disabled, sick folks, seniors and marginalized people. It creates a two-tiered system where one’s state of health determines whether one receives adequate care. As a Black disabled woman, I have experienced both racial and disability discrimination in healthcare. The most blatant example of this was when I went to the emergency department last year in intractable pain. A white woman, also in pain, was next to me. She got Dilaudid, a potent pain medication, while I got a pat on the shoulder and sent home.
Although few Blacks and people of color request assisted suicide, as it becomes normalized across the country, racial disparities and the devaluing of the lives of disabled people will lead to people being forced, or” convinced” to ask for assisted suicide. As long as racial disparities and disability discrimination in our healthcare system exist, there is no place for assisted suicide.
How do you pronounce your name?
Anita (A like uh, nit like neat, and a like uh) Cameron (Came like camera, ron like run).