On Being Left Behind

I thought once I got my COVID vaccines that I could finally leave behind having to blog diatribes. But here we are, almost 2 years later and I still haven’t been given that opportunity.

Today, California decided to lift the mask mandate altogether, for everyone, whether you’re vaccinated or not. The fact that this happened on Disability Day of Mourning is an irony not lost on me. COVID is not gone, it may never be. While it may be “better”, people are still dying. People are still getting it.

What lifting the mask mandate has said and especially says today is that “ok high risk, immunocompromised and disability community…you still don’t matter. We don’t care.” Our lives and our safety don’t matter. Our mental health doesn’t matter. Because we’re deemed less than for something we had no choice in. Our lives are considered worth preserving because we don’t live with the same abilities as non-disabled people.

The burden is still falling on us to wear masks (even though the whole point of wearing a mask is to protect other people more than yourself). The burden still falls on us to have to do a constant risk analysis of what we’re comfortable or not comfortable doing and if it may or may not make us sick or kill us.

Even with the chance of being hospitalized or killed from COVID being majorly lessened with the vaccines and boosters, that doesn’t get rid of the chance of any of us getting long COVID. And when you’re already disabled, you can’t afford something else coming along to make you even more disabled. So we don’t have the luxury to just “get it” and get it over with.

Our lives and our livelihood are once again being sacrificed for the convenience of others, and this time it’s for the convenience of people who were perfectly able to get the vaccine but voluntarily chose not to (obviously I’m not including people who have legitimate medical reasons for not getting it because many members of the disabled community fall into that category too). This virus has spread and mutated so badly because people are unvaccinated (in some countries, to no fault of their own, they just don’t have the access) and today those people got to celebrate not having to wear a mask anymore while I sat by and cried. When do we get to celebrate? When do we get to have some sort of liberation from this whole fucked up mess?

My whole life I’ve tried to balance speaking up while also not being seen as the “angry” disabled person because then people wouldn’t listen to me or I might offend someone. But you know what, I am angry. I know people aren’t going to like some of what I’ve just said. I’m probably going to offend someone, especially if there’s an unvaccinated person reading this. You can think I’m unreasonable. That I’m taking this too personally. That the numbers support lifting the mandate. But until you know what it feels like to have people make fun of you, not understand you, treat you like you’re being unreasonable for making an accessibility request, for being passed over for a job because of your disability, for being accused of faking your disability, for being told your not disabled enough, for constantly not being able to do the same things because so many places aren’t accessible, to not be able to find affordable or accessibly housing, and after all that, have the world tell you that you don’t matter and that you should just go away or die…your opinion doesn’t matter to me.

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