Saturday, February 6, 2021

#AutisticWhileBlack #BlackHistory2021: Vaccination While Black

The author, owning
The angry Black woman 
look. Image of a gray haired 
Black woman with glasses. 

The huge disparities between the agendas of those individuals with the largest platforms who are presented as allies to autism advocacy and the realities of what African American autistic families need to survive have continued for all the years since my son's diagnosis. I try to highlight and speak out, but my voice is tiny. But I am fed up and I'm going to vent now.

Steve Silberman, the author of  NeuroTribes, posted this on social media:

Steve Silberman: Vaccine envy is a thing.

I have been trying for months to emphasize the struggles and barriers to our communities of color, particularly my racial peers, having access to vaccination. I have been trying to show the incredible irony between the near gaslighting being done to push vaccination on our people when there is no supply of vaccines to give us. The cruelty of advertising mass vaccination events as "open to the public" at sites that require individuals to have cars when those most vulnerable don't own cars and no public transportation is provided to those sites. In truth, only those who have managed to gain appointments, which require access to the Internet (needs class privilege and access to technology) are allowed at mass vaccination sites, and there can be no mass vaccination without vaccine supply.

Being Black in America during a pandemic means the quality of healthcare given is limited because the staff, equipment, and treatment options that those with race and class privilege have are not available in their zip codes. Add racialized autism to these obstacles, and the idea of achieving vaccination becomes a nearly impossible mountain of barriers to climb.

Black vaccine hesitancy is discussed in the press and narrowed to one incident when the history of disparity in health services and maltreatment of African Americans continues to this day. Only Rachel Maddow has spoken to our own people trying to breach barriers to vaccinate us. 

I tweeted about Drene Keyes going into anaphylaxis minutes after being given the first Pfizer vaccine dose. I am angry that the same excuses for why more of our people are dying from COVID 19 are being used to excuse her death. Her preexisting conditions. This is not the first anaphylaxis reaction to this vaccine. Others have had this reaction so this was a known issue. Why then, was this not thought through before giving the okay for a disabled woman to receive this vaccine? Why is our community not asking these questions? Because the quality of healthcare for the non-racialized disabled population is better than for us.

My son and I are disabled. No one has bothered to care whether disabled people might die from anaphylaxis after a dose of a vaccine. No authorities have taken the time and care to warn African American patients, a majority of whom have preexisting conditions and low access to quality healthcare services, to wait before getting vaccinated. Instead what we hear, from supposed allies, is pressure to forget the disparities in healthcare that are driving up the numbers of us who die from this coronavirus. We hear that it is a lack of education causing vaccine hesitancy, while hospitals that serve our most impoverished communities demand equipment, medical supplies, and staff to fight the surge in infected patients. Entire families are dying. Our people are pressured to sign up for vaccination appointments when they have no access to the means of signing up. We are told to drive to vaccination sites without a car. We are told to stay at home when our jobs require delivering food, medication, and care to those who can stay in homes without risking eviction for not being able to pay rent. We are told to go to mass vaccination events when there is no vaccine supply. 

I want everyone claiming to advocate for autistics and their families to do better. It's time to advocate now by giving us the damn mike since mainstream autism advocacy is clearly ignorant of what has been happening to our community since the beginning of this pandemic. Reach out to your communities and do something to save lives and make this vaccination effort equitable for everyone. We are dying while our supposed allies are posting quips on social media.

When will those who are supposed to be our allies cease making thoughtless, clueless, cruel statements like "vaccine envy is a thing?"

If this is the mainstream idea of allies, miss me with that.

Rant, done.

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