Living through history

As someone who has spent much of the past decade or so thinking about historical pandemics, it is quite surreal to be in the middle of one. On one hand, it is rewarding to be reminded that what I’m working on is important and relevant today, and I have identified many new questions to study in the future. On the other hand, that’s not much of a silver lining when there’s so much uncertainty and worry. Like many other people, I’m concerned for myself, my family and friends, my community, and indeed people around the world. While the MSCA fellowship is an amazing opportunity, it also means I’m an ocean away from the people I love the most.

With cancellations and social distancing and everything else, I have had to rearrange and prioritize activities in my project. I also am trying to help out where I can. For example, I will be providing content to some teachers who are now shifting to online education. I also want to help raise awareness of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with disabilities. For example, how are life or death decisions being made about who gets treatment and who is “expendable”? What happens to the people who need various medical supplies on a daily basis when there is panic buying and supply shortages? Why is working or learning from home possible now when before that was commonly written off as an unreasonable accommodation? And yet at the same time, people with disabilities are still often being excluded from public health responses and communication, economic relief packages, and accessible education.

These and many other questions are being raised and discussed by people who are much more eloquent and experienced with these matters than I am. As important as I think it is to study historical pandemics and to use the experiences of the past to inform the present and the future, I think it’s more important to listen to the voices of the people directly impacted right now. So, I want to conclude this post by linking to several Twitter accounts of people and organizations who are particularly concerned with disability during this pandemic. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start: @MyEDF, @CDSLeeds, @Imani_Barbarin, @emily_ladau, and @jaivirdi

To everyone: stay healthy and stay home, as much as you can!