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Meet the Black woman advocating for greater disability visibility

Black Women in the News

Meet the Black woman advocating for greater disability visibility

By Donna Owens via

Andraéa LaVant wants you to know that she’s many things, a living snapshot of humanity’s vast kaleidoscope. She’s a Black woman. A native Midwesterner. A college graduate and business owner. A daughter, sister and friend.

LaVant is also among the estimated 61 million people in the U.S., according to federal data, living with a disability — in her case, a form of muscular dystrophy called spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA for short. The 37-year-old was diagnosed at age 2 with a genetic disease that, among other things, affects the central nervous system and voluntary muscle movement.

“I could feed myself, and write. But I grew up being pretty much dependent on people for everything,” says LaVant, an Iowa native raised in Louisville, Kentucky. “I used a walker and a…

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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