What is the pandemic teaching us about ableism?
The pandemic has really highlighted just how much disabled lives aren’t valued. Many people don’t really ever think about those of us who have underlying health conditions or disabilities. But we’re here! We are your family members, your colleague, your lovers. We also hear and see what you’ve been saying during this pandemic.
During the last two and a half years we have seen how you’ve treated us. We’ve heard how little you value our lives and contribute to society. We’ve heard how we have to get back to ‘normal’ even though we’re still dying. The majority of those who have died have been disabled. A minority of those who have survived have also become part of our community.
When you think of someone who is disabled, it is usually one that you can clearly see. Someone who has one arm, someone who’s in a wheelchair. The thing is, most disabilities aren’t visible. Most people have this perception that very few people are disabled because they simply can’t see their disability. This is very far from the truth.
This minimising of just who we are causes so many issues. This is where the idea that “only those with underlying health conditions die” is so damaging. We may be your boss, your friend, your co-worker, your doctor, your grocery isle worker. Our lives are worth living. We have aspirations, family and friends. We have a life too, and just because you have a very low risk of death from a severe virus doesn’t mean we do too. It’s so harmful to put us down as those who don’t matter.
This idea that we don’t matter has spread. We are currently in a world where the majority think that the virus is gone or somehow less severe than it used to be and has now evolved into the flu. This is simply not true. The risk is higher now than it has ever been with no restrictions to mitigate anything.
Our lives are still at risk from this virus, however, ableism has taken over and so many people simply don’t care anymore. As a disabled person, it’s really disheartening to hear these views. It’s difficult to come to terms with not being valued, especially when it’s coming from people you love.