I am not expendable.
That’s really important, so I’m going say it again.
I am not expendable.
Not only am I not expendable, but people like me are not expendable.
We are often the ones that rely on others for many of our daily needs. Needs that if no one were there to help us, they probably wouldn’t get met. Some of these daily needs take place at home, while others take place in the larger world of which we are a part, even if they are rarely seen.
We are the ones that have to take pills, and feel a sinking sensation in our stomachs when we get a notice from our insurance companies saying our medication is no longer available to us because it is being prescribed for something it doesn’t help, and then thanking us for our sacrifice.
We are the ones that hospitals put on the bottom of the list of people they will help if supplies run short. We are the ones whose lives, some believe, are not of high enough value to save.
We are the ones that watch the news and see death counts rise, and in every county where they note a death, they often state that the person had “underlying conditions”. What conditions? Too many birthdays? The wrong parents? Liking cats more than dogs? What are they trying to get at?
What they’re getting at is that some of the people who died were already broken. They’re telling ‘regular people’ that they have less to be afraid of. Of course they don’t mention the fact that 92.6 million people are at risk for serious complications, including death. (That’s roughly 37% of the population.)
This article was going to be about The Disability Day of Mourning, and in previous years we felt like filicides due to disability were tragic but somewhat isolated events—events that we could bring awareness to and perhaps put a stop to one day. This year we see our job is much bigger. Filicide is a symptom of a larger societal attitude that the medically fragile sons and daughters among us are not just familial burdens, but also societal burdens—secondhand inconveniences that are easily dismissed. We find that when given a choice, filicides are potentially more common than we could have imagined. This year we will read the list of names of those we know who were murdered by their families, but there are others that won’t be read because they may be hidden in an “underlying condition” that the system missed.
And now that we have gotten a front-row view of the sickening mass selfishness of those who would choose attending a wedding over saving lives, we understand just how big of a job we have.
We are not expendable, and there’s work to be done.
Nancy Peterson was born and raised in Alaska, before leaving to become the first college graduate in their family. They hold a BS in elementary education with a minor in special education, an MA in teaching, an ME.d. in special education, and are in the process of completing an AAS in business administration. Nancy’s family consists of a husband, two sons, a giant cat, and all the local people that have become family over the years. Nancy enjoys watching documentaries and cooking shows, reading sci-fi/fantasy books, family game nights, and going out for coffee with friends.
Nancy has a long history of diversity rights activism. As a non-binary person with disabilities, they have their own experiences with discrimination, and use the skills they’ve learned as a self-advocate and educator to help others. They are a speaker, organizer, and writer. They have participated in local groups, such as Pride, Disability Day of Mourning, “Celebrate! Faith and Cultures,” and the Womxn’s March. Nancy has supported the BIPOC community by working to help create and support platforms that center its members' voices. Nancy currently works as a disability services accessibility specialist at Columbia Basin College.
Nancy was elected to the Hermiston, OR City Council in 2020 to serve their first term in 2021.