A few long weeks ago, I submitted an essay to the Digital Feminist Collective about my position as Career Faculty at a state university. In the midst of a pandemic, the problems of structural inequity associated with such positions become more urgent, whether they concern job security or access to health care. The time seemed ripe to describe an experience about which people are usually silent.
In this post we want to share some thoughts on how and why the disabled community is suddenly receiving greater attention. We would like, in specific, to talk about the value of disabled knowledge, and how the story of disability justice connects to two separate however interrelated events happening now: the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter uprisings. By sharing sources that amplify disabled voices and collectives doing important social justice work, we hope to encourage involvement as we navigate together through these uncertain times.
I begin this short text with a very pertinent commentary at a moment in which the pandemic of Covid-19 is turning our attention towards diverse societies:
“…one of the factors that has exacerbated ethno-racial conflicts in recent years has been the imposition of economic policies based on a globalization that subordinates the national economies of the region and impoverishes their peoples dramatically. In this sense, we can observe that the recognition of cultural pluralism tends to emerge, paradoxically, at times in which economic mechanisms of exclusion of traditionally subordinated racial and ethnic sectors, that is to say, of the Amerindian peoples and African Americans, are strengthening.” (Paris Pombo, 2002: 309)
I call on women to speak out and lead the way. We cannot wait, we have to act. Our children’s and grandchildren’s future is at stake.
Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland
Feminists have embraced intersectional inquiries for a long time, integrating frameworks developed by women, minorities, the disabled, and other underrepresented groups. When society equated women and nature, feminist scholars responded with ecofeminist analyses. For half a century, ecofeminists have examined the implications of the destruction of the planet for women and girls. Ecofeminists have also analyzed connections between our capitalist economic system, patriarchy, colonization, right-wing and fascist groups, domestic abuse, suppression of women’s rights, and genocide. Feminist activism has been part of several waves of women’s movements and hands-on activism for more political participation and attention to the concerns of all who do not identify as male, be it by getting the right to vote one hundred years ago, fighting for abortion rights in the 1960s and 70s, and by joining LGBTQIA* activists since the 1980s.