You Are Not Entitled To Our Deaths: COVID, Abled Supremacy & Interdependence by Mia Mingus

These days, I am struggling to find grace for abled people. I have taken a break from engaging with most abled folks in my life because frankly, I don’t know how to convey the magnitude of disabled rage I feel about this pandemic and the stunningly self absorbed levels of abled entitlement. I cannot casually check-in anymore or be asked how I’m doing in the middle of mass suffering, illness and death. I cannot listen to or read about the high rates of infections, illness and death in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities with no mention of BIPOC disabled people in the middle of a pandemic. I cannot listen to the CDC say they are “encouraged” that only those “who were unwell to begin with” will die from Omicron and then hear about so-called-comrades’ vacations outside of the continental U.S. I cannot be part of any more so-called political conversations that don’t acknowledge disability, ableism and abled supremacy in the middle of a pandemic

We will not trade disabled deaths for abled life. We will not allow disabled people to be disposable or the necessary collateral for the status quo. We will not look away from the mass illness and death that surrounds us or from a state machine that is more committed to churning out profit and privileged comfort with eugenic abandonment. 

We know the state has failed us. We are currently witnessing the pandemic state-sanctioned violence of murder, eugenics, abuse and bone-chilling neglect in the face of mass suffering, illness and death. We are the richest nation in the world and we continue to choose greed and comfort over people and life. The state is driving the knife of suffering deeper into the gut of those who are already collapsed on the ground. The cruelty is sweeping and unapologetic. 

This is no surprise to many of us on the far left. We have seen what the state is willing to do to its own people. We have never been able to rely on the state because we know the state does not care about us or our people. We have always had to organize outside of the state. This is nothing new. We have been here before and we are here again. 

We know we need systemic change so that our peoples can literally survive this pandemic alive, but we also know that the kind of changes we need are most likely not coming. It is in the interest of those in power to keep people uncared for, sick and dependent on dwindling crumbs. This is one reason why ableism and poverty are so effective and why they are often inseparable. There are many things we cannot control or change right now, even as we desperately wish we could. As we fight for systemic changes, we can also try to change what is happening inside of our communities. We can learn from our mistakes and try to, at the very least, not make things worse than they already are. 

Pitting the need for state and systemic change against individual and community change sets up a false binary. Both are necessary to get out of the pandemic mess we are in, just as both are necessary for any kind of liberation we are fighting for. We need to provide hazard pay to essential workers, end evictions, pay people to stay home, distribute free tests to everyone and we need everyone to wear masks, stop holding/attending in-person gatherings, stop unnecessary travel and get vaccinated and boosted. There are people on the left who are only talking about the need for a state response, while they themselves are still not vaccinated and boosted or continue to throw/attend in-person gatherings. If transformative justice teaches us anything, it is that systemic change alone is not enough. There are also many changes that must happen at the community and individual levels as well.