Masks are very highly recommended for all students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Disability Studies community who attend in-person class meetings, office hours, and in-person events and activities. Continuing the use of masks will help to make our learning spaces and workplaces as accessible as possible and to protect everyone, especially at this time when there are fewer COVID safety precautions on and off campus.
In agreeing to support each other by wearing a mask, we recognize that there are disparate experiences of this pandemic that are shaped by underlying social inequities. Older adults, immunocompromised people, working-class people, and people of color have died at disproportionately high rates. As Black disabled activist Imani Barbarin notes, “COVID-19 and the subsequent safety guidelines have made overt the long-standing institutional and systemic inequalities that span across our culture, from the medical system to workplace policies. These complexities are exacerbated when race and other marginalized identities come into play, particularly for Black disabled people.”
We need to practice collective care rather than shifting the burden onto those who are most impacted. In the face of what epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves names the “national policy of organized abandonment,” we support his call for “accompaniment as policy… [in which] we walk together with those whom others would rather forget, until they tell us their journey is done.”
Imani Barbarin, “The Pandemic Tried to Break Me, but I Know My Black Disabled Life Is Worthy,” Cosmopolitan, March 11, 2022.
Gregg Gonsalves, “The Biden Administration Turns Its Back on the Pandemic: Structural Violence, Social Murder, and Our National Policy of Organized Abandonment,” The Nation, March 10, 2022.
Ed Yong, “How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal?” The Atlantic, March 8, 2022.
"Why Don't We Care about Disabled People?" Try Guys podcast, April 21, 2022.
"11 Disability Rights Activists on Where the Fight for Justice Stands," Teen Vogue, Sept. 19, 2022