COVID MEMORIAL SPEECH 2021


Covid Memorial Speech

by Aidan Zingler

I am a nonbinary neurodivergent disabled person. I am homebound and live alone with my cat. Many disabled folks I know are either in similar situations, live in a home, or forced to live with people that harm them. Many of us struggle in poverty due to restrictions on how much assets and money we’re allowed to have in order to keep our benefits that keep us alive. Very few of us have the health to work. Many of us are under the age of 64.

Who cares if one more life goes out if there’s millions of other lives? We care. We care, even if the state doesn’t.

When the pandemic hit, disabled folks predicted a lot of what transpired, and because we are often homebound, we had techniques and ideas on how to help others navigate this new reality. But instead of listening, society triaged us last. We cried out at the injustice; we demanded equitable triage; ANY pandemic response that would stop the spread.

Who cares if one more life flickers and dies if there’s millions of others? We care. We care, even if the state doesn’t.

We wept when yet another Black disabled person died, when yet disabled immigrant person died, when another Indigenous disabled person died. We wept as we watched our lives snuffed out by a careless state who would decided the economy mattered more than the most vulnerable.

Who cares if one more life flickers and dies if there’s millions of others? We care. We care, even if the state doesn’t.

The governor pushed hard for triage that put disabled folks last if the hospitals were overrun. The reasoning? We have a poor quality of life. But who decides that? Do we not get a voice? An excerpt of a poem I wrote:

Ableism teaches us that disability is
to escape from, to be liberated from,
to be horrified by, to be ignored,
to be not believed for aren’t we faking it?
over and over, even from loved ones
who frame their arguments and words
just as society taught them, perpetuating
the same harm that threatens my life.

Can’t you see our inherent beauty?
Can’t you see our gifts are magnificent?
Can’t you see our unique perspectives
reveal hidden nooks you overlooked?
Can’t you see the worth embedded?
Can’t you see our words and stories
are real and true, valid and joyful?
We are not your inspiration porn,
We may never live up to society’s
impossible expectations but remember
we live a fantastic existence as us.

If only our state could recognize the beauty within us. I will never forget going on Twitter after the election to see videos from other disabled activists. All with the similar messages, the shared tears. They cried as they said, “You left us for dead, and yet we came out. We came out and voted anyway. We swung the vote. Will you not prioritize us?”

Who cares if one more life dies if there’s millions of others? We care. We care, even if the state doesn’t.

How many times did people joke about how Covid only affected the immuno-compromised? The elderly? The disabled? I am here listening. We are right here. Do you not see how that joke implies it’s okay that we die? That it’s not a big deal because it hits us harder than abled-bodied (often white) people? Do we not also deserve life?

Who cares if one more life goes out if there’s millions of others? We care. We care, even if the state doesn’t.

When the vaccine rollout started, us disabled high-risk folks were not prioritized. Across social media our hashtags erupted in protest: #CripTheVote #NoBodyIsDisposable #HighRiskCOVID19  Many of us need routine meds and procedures for our health. I share the pain with many in the disabled community when our healthcare is delayed, prioritized last. We are told to stay isolated, and yet if we are to survive, we must go to our health appointments, must get food and supplies. But to go out, when the risk is so high? What choice do we have? Our symptoms cannot be paused until the state deems us important enough to vaccinate. We continue to demand an equitable response.

Who cares if one more life goes out if there’s millions of others? We care. We care even if the state doesn’t. We care.

Mourning by Aidan Zingler

Call it what it is.
casual normalization of death
for the poor, the marginalized,
Sacrificed on the altar of capitalism.

Where is the collective mourning?
500,000 dead and rising
The powers that be and journalists
TV anchors and elected officials
Sound off with silence
for the 500,000 dead and rising

We should mourn. We will mourn. We must.

The dead weeps to be so unheard
the ill shatter to be so spurned
where is the compassion?
who will hear the cries of our lost?

We should mourn. We will mourn. We must.

Those in power laugh gleefully
as their profits skyrocket
billionaires, trillionaires
growing hoards in a pandemic

Justice howls its forlorn song
the compassion for humanity
lost in reopening economy
500,000 dead and rising
normalized, desensitizes
500,000 dead and rising
who will hear their stories?
who will honor their memory?

We should mourn. We will mourn. We must.

CALL TO ACTION:

Please:

1. Write your representatives and call for equitable vaccine distribution. Ask that high risk immuno-compromised people of any age be prioritized. Ask that vaccine distribution sites are accessible and have transportation for those that can’t or don’t have access to a car. Ask that marginalized communities such as Black, Indigenous, immigrant communities are prioritized and have accessible sites.

2. Share what you write in this thread. Share this thread. Don’t forget the dead. Lift up the lives. Remember them and act the best that you can.

3. PLEASE CONTINUE TO WEAR MASKS EVEN IF YOU ARE VACCINATED. You can still carry the virus even if vaccinated. The Vaccine just nullifies the virus from harming you but doesn’t mean you can’t still transmit it.

4. Please continue to ask our government to continue with Requiring Everyone to Wear Masks. To NOT reopen the state yet. We are still fighting this pandemic and its newer variations.

Thank you for reading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kaUvGSLMew

Categories: Writing

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