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Response to the El Paso and Dayton Shootings
In times of desperation it is often desirable to lay blame at the doorsteps of those society has perfected oppressing because it prevents us from evaluating our own reflections. What has occurred in America over the last week is a despicable reflection this country’s history of violence and gross apathy towards making policy and social changes that address the root causes of the problems that take people’s lives.
In El Paso, we know an enraged white supremacist sought to take the lives of people because of their skin color and ethnic roots. We know that these ideologies are normalized even further by the rhetoric of President Donald Trump and other elected officials who have leaned fully into the preservation of whiteness and the power they wield over others as a result. However, in response to this latest violence we have seen politicians seek to place blame at the doorstep of disability rather than acknowledging that the violence that built this nation currently sustains it and exists counter to the fundamental changes that should be to ensure that every person in this country feels safe, no matter who they are and where they are from.
Here’s what we know: disability does not breed hatred or white supremacy but rather society does. We could list countless facts about people with disabilities all over the world and the lack of racially motivated shootings that exist in the spaces they occupy - but we will not. Instead, we want to name some of the solutions that we have been unwilling to take on as a society to prevent the needless violence that continues to take the lives of historically marginalized people all over this country.
First, this nation needs to adopt comprehensive gun reform that removes the availability of firearms with the capability of killing large quantities of people at a time. There has never been a material need for the guns that currently exist to be made let alone available to the general public and ultimately greed should not be a driver of policy.
Secondly, we need to have more intentional conversations about this nation’s history of white supremacy to better understand how our society cultivates homegrown terrorists clinging to the promise of white supremacy. These conversations should include carefully evaluating curriculums in school and the way that we teach this nation’s history. Additionally, our dialogues about racism and white supremacy should also occur at our kitchen tables, when we are in community with family and friends as these are a few of the places that impact the instilment of white supremacist ideologies and create the domestic terrorists that take innocent lives.
Lastly, we should have conversations about mental health. We should talk about the availability of resources for all people who must process living in a society that carries out constant acts of violence on innocent people. We should talk about the availability of functional mental health resources for folks who experience depression in a world that continues to show us why waking up in the morning is a struggle for so many. We should talk more openly about why mental health is not valued or discussed as freely and honestly as physical health. Those are the dialogues about mental health we should have because it affects every single person’s life at any given moment.
There will never be a correlation between white supremacy and disability. Not now, not ever.
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