For the past two months, myself and two other members, Connor Roach and Martín Lazarte of Cuéntame Zine, a storytelling platform that explores the impacts of ableism, have been documenting the ways in which ableism has influenced the media and the U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the media and the U.S. government have focused on reopening the economy without much consideration for populations they have deemed vulnerable such as the chronically ill, disabled, immunocompromised, and neurodivergent communities. Media outlets and lawmakers continue to push out their own narratives and rarely are members of these vulnerable communities invited to share information about their experiences.
The Cuéntame team has been exploring ableism by interviewing and photographing a diverse group of individuals from the aforementioned communities. Over the past two months we have interviewed 70 individuals from the aforementioned communities. The interviews have documented (1) how participants are dealing with COVID-19, (2) participants’ thoughts on the media coverage and government policy proposals (e.g. reopening the economy and the stimulus package) and (3) how participants would like to see society respond to the pandemic. In addition to interviews, we have photographed 35 of the 70 interviewees in a socially distant manner (following CDC guidelines) in the South of the U.S. Over the next 60-days we will photograph the rest of the interviewees.
The goal of this series is to amplify the diverse voices that make up the aforementioned communities and influence how ableism is understood. The photo-essays will be utilized for a virtual gallery for educators. The gallery will be accompanied by a curriculum that educators can use to provoke conversations with their students about the impacts of ableism during the pandemic. The series will also be shown in print format (i.e. books and galleries) as it is important for individuals of all ages to examine ableism in their own life and community.
What our grantee is saying: "We are beyond honored to receive the Awesome Foundation Disability Chapter’s grant for July 2020! This grant will ensure that the stories of chronically ill, disabled, immunocompromised, and neurodiverse individuals are heard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you so much!"
Funded by Disability (July 2020)