For the First Time, I Live in Fear of My Disability

In a black and white photo, a man and a woman dressed in 70's style pant suits stand on either side of a young girl on crutches.
The author, Suzanne Richard, and her parents in the 1970’s

Since some others have refused to learn from the Pandemic, I thought I would share what I had.  When I watched George Floyd be lynched on national television, I was brought to tears.  I was brought to tears by the terror and anger that my fellow citizens of color live with every day.  But I also wept for the terror of the disability community and myself.  The terror that is so great that we dare not breathe its name least the beast awakens.

And then Trump and his (somewhat aphasic) citing of herd immunity came crashing through my television screen, and it all crystallized for me.  You do understand that herd immunity is allowing the sick and the weak to be culled from the group.  It is survival of the fittest – Darwinism – Eugenics, Baby!  And that is where The Final Solution came from which started with, before all the other groups targeted by the Nazis, people with disabilities.  <But Susie, that is too dark! This is America, ‘all [folx] are created equal,’ so they must not mean that, right?> Dear God, unfortunately, I think they do and have stopped pulling their punches.

Let me break this down into smaller bites so I can get you there with me.  Do they care that it is black and brown people dying in greater numbers than white people?  No, they don’t, they were planning on it.  In their vomit-inducing view of their own superiority, “those people” are inferior anyway and that is why they have the low-wage, frontline jobs like getting you your food and delivering services to the public.  Because none of the economic inequality has anything to do with the systemic racism dating back to the beginning of our history with the subjugation of native peoples, the kidnapping and enslavement of Africans, and more recently, the exploitation of populations fleeing unstable governments and brutal criminals to our south.

But don’t forget that these same people are also using as their reason-to-not-wear-a-mask mantra that it is only people who are old and previously sick that are really at risk, so they should be OK.  Do not forget that the Lieutenant Governor of Texas said that grandparents should be happy to volunteer to die to get the economy going again as he would.  Is that guy dead?  If not, maybe he should volunteer to go be Trump’s body-man in the Whitehouse.  His real one has COVID.

But after that, it is not too far to one more drink around the socially-distanced campfire before a God-fearing genius like that starts saying, “Well, they hadn’t taken care of themselves, had they?  So they really brought it on themselves”  It gets them off the hook very quickly from feeling any real empathy.  Once someone loses empathy it is not long before they have gotten to, “You know what?  People with disabilities are really just taking up the resources of someone who can really contribute more to the country…”  Then their warped “christianity” kicks in and they come up with, “I mean just look at their quality of life.  It really would be a mercy…”

Look, those of us with disabilities are defending rights that we really only won in the latter half of the 20th century.  Before that, we were referred to as Invalids that let us know we were not valid people.  Some of us were still being sterilized en-mass without our consent in the 1930s. And on a personal note, a friend of mine was informed as she was being wheeled into the operating room for her c-section that, “The Ethics Board had met and they can’t allow you to have any more children, so would you rather have a hysterectomy or your tubes tied?”  And THAT was in the 1980s in a supposed pro-life state.

But this is America and we rose up and got the right to an equal (and for a while “yet separate”) education in the 1970s with the IDEA and the right to employment in the 90s with the ADA.  We have led the way around the world in empowering the 15% of the world’s population who have disabilities and were essential in the crafting of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  And we still have work to do. We obviously have work to do with law enforcement: 50% of people of color killed by the police have disabilities and I have seen a person in a wheelchair lifted up by two police officers and slammed face-first onto the ground.  

But if this Pandemic can teach us anything, it is that we really are all created equal.  No one is immune to this pandemic, not even our own “Chosen-one” President.  And don’t worry, people with disabilities are here in DC still continuing to work towards a more perfect union.  Fighting for your rights, because we are the only minority you can join at any time and will if you live long enough…or, God forbid, you get COVID.  So if the time comes, I would personally appreciate it if you had my back.  Oh, and while I have the mic – Rand Paul…bite me.

10 thoughts on “For the First Time, I Live in Fear of My Disability

    • I would never doubt you would be there for me as I, you! Miss you, My Love!!!! You make the world a more loving place. Say beautiful!

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