Earlier this month, The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) published and distributed a blog post written by, Kevin Nunez, a self-advocate and Vice Chair of the Council. The blog post, which was shared in the context of Black History Month, inappropriately compared aspects of the disability experience to the atrocities of slavery in America.
The post was unintentionally hurtful, insensitive, and disrespectful. As leaders in the NJCDD, we take full responsibility for its publication and distribution.
On behalf of the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, our volunteer members and our staff, we apologize to all of our readers and followers, but especially to Black individuals and families.
This action did not align in any way with our commitment to create a more inclusive and equitable experience for Black New Jersey residents with I/DD and their families. We have therefore removed the blog post from our website, and have put additional protocols in place to ensure more effective and appropriate communications in the future.
We are aware of the critical and urgent need for continued education, training and information on the part of NJCDD’s members, staff and leadership if we are to better support and serve the NJ Black community with I/DD. We are developing a plan to expand and deepen that effort.
As part of our Five-Year State Plan, adopted in 2021, the NJCDD is supporting projects and engaging in outreach designed to ensure increased levels of diversity, equity, cultural competency, and linguistic responsiveness in all aspects of our work. Many of our objectives address racial disparities in access and delivery of disability services in New Jersey.
We cannot do this work without you, and pledge to do better. We are committed to doing everything we can to earn and keep your trust.
With deep apologies and regret,
Paul Blaustein, Chairperson of the NJCDD
Mercedes Witowsky, Executive Director of the NJCDD