2021 Disability Day of Mourning: Closing Remarks

photo of a yellow candle against a dark background with sevreal blurry candle lights in the backgroundby Rishav Banerjee

The following was read at A4A’s vigil for the Disability Day of Mourning, a global event where we remember disabled people who were murdered by their parents/caregivers.

Ableism exists all around us and can be deadly, as seen by today’s memorial. Disabled people face barriers in all walks of life, but it should not be this way.

In order to fight for the rights of disabled people – to fight for our right to live, we need to dismantle ableism once and for all.

The past year has shown us that accessibility is not as infeasible as people once thought. Accommodations can be made with the results being that at the end of the day, everyone regardless of ability or neurotype benefits as these accommodations transform into universal design. However, 2020 showed us that ableism is still pervasive, as many continue to disregard the safety and lives of disabled people up to considering them acceptable sacrifices and an inconvenience for everyone else’s “freedom” in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

How does this relate to filicide? Because attitude and representation matters.

When covering the murder of a disabled person at the hands of people entrusted to help them live fulfilling lives, the media will often disregard the humanity of the killer’s victim. The media turns the victim into a burden, a caricature, a machine that was no longer worth maintaining. Not as living beings — human beings with hopes, dreams, feelings, thoughts, ideas, and a presence in this world. People whose storied lives were brought to an unceremonious, painful, cruel, and treacherous end.

Going forward, we hope that the memories of those lost to ableist violence will live on. Those  who have lost their lives to ableist violence deserve to have their lives, names, and stories remembered.

And as always, while we mourn the lives that were cut short, we also must remember to fight relentlessly for the living.