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A person with hypersomnia sleeps contentedly on a bed.

Where are the crip Utopias?


Good question, hey? I don’t know you, but I’ve never read any type of alternative utopian stories that included people like me. By that, I mean people that are not able-bodied, that cannot adapt or assure their survival by their own means. Not that anyone can, really, but some are better equipped. I know very well what happens to people like me according to collapsology or dystopian predictions. In the “best” scenario, I get a quick mercy-death before everything starts to be too violent; in the worst case, I get to be killed in a more genocidal fashion by some cruel form of authority.

In the post-revolution, capitalist or authoritarian world, I simply disappear. I just don’t exist in those futures, as I barely exist in this present. If you read about those ideals that people project themselves into, activists or everyday people, I am not a part of it; am an afterthought at best.

When people like me ask, “What about us? What about those who won’t be able to grow their own food? What about those who cannot live by themselves in the wilderness? What about those who need medicine to stay alive? What are we becoming in this bright future?” — to this, you have two types of answers; let’s start with the honest one:

“Sorry, but the only reason you people are alive is this sick society, and this is just too big of a price to pay, as it creates so much suffering. In the future we build, there is no place for disease or illnesses; it’s how things are. You die when you get sick, and you hide in the forest when you’re too old to follow the group”.

Of course, things are usually said with more tact, and those discourses are shared amongst people who cannot imagine for a second that they could be the weak ones. Because they stay in shape, avoid industrial food, are not too fat or too thin, and never catch a cold. Usually, they have no bad intentions toward disabled people. They can even know a thing or two about ableism. Rare are the ones that would have the nerve to say to my face, “I don’t think your life is worth it”. It’s more subtle, like refusing to mask-up in the middle of a pandemic because “individual liberties”, ignoring one’s needs for accessibility, or a general avoidance of my kind.

On the other end, the hypocritical answer says:

“Of course there is a place for you in this world. We’ll build support systems, bring you the assistance you need, and nobody is gonna be left behind. The project we have for the future is all about acceptance, love, and care for everyone. Yes, you are never represented in our utopias, but it’s because we forgot and are sorry about that. You’re free to contribute to improving it ! And when time comes, we’ll figure something out”.

Fifteen per-cent of the world’s population, yet that forgettable? Look around you, look at the groups you’re a part of. How many disabled people are actually involved? There lies your answer. How many of those militant events are really accessible? How many times have I seen organisations congratulate themselves about doing the best they can, when what they actually did was the bare minimum on a scale of expectations put to the lowest? Why not figure out something now, when we still have the capacity and the “comfort” to do it? Why would we magically succeed to do something in the future, if we goof it up in the present? Why do we have to wait for the catastrophe to build efficient support systems? Except that, the strong belief in both reasonings is that it’s always other people’s problems.

Every day, people are brutalized and disabled by police violence, but every time we have to build a support system from the ground up, like it’s something exceptional that never happened before. Of course, those support systems are only for those who used to be part of the group, who sacrificed themselves for the cause. As for the crips out there, who are excluded on the sole basis that they cannot conform to the ableist ideal of an activist — too bad. And don’t pretend you don’t know what I am making reference to. We can have those beautiful discourses about care work, activism burnout or preservation, at the end of the day, those who cannot follow the rhythm of the efficient majority are out. We have a term for that — eugenics — and yeah, it’s a problem, no matter how sugar-coated it seems on the surface. I don’t care that your ideology is more liberal, anarchist, or communist, if at the end of the day I cannot tell the difference from fascism when it comes to the disabled community.

There is no such thing as the “after” world, we do not build out of a blank page. What we lack now, we’ll be lacking then. I chose here to only talk about my fellow crips, but in many cases, it applies to a bunch of other minorities. There is no after-world without disability.

No matter how much you think you’re safe now, we are still breathing the same polluted air, drinking the same poisonous water. We still all have to deal with fires, floods, or storms. Thinking that most people will go through their life with a perfect health is a complete denial of the reality we’re going towards. And a world that is hostile for disabled people is usually not that great for the elderly and kids. Not many people left, right? What is the difference between a totalitarian utopia and any other one, if only the strong, the powerful, get to live a decent life?

Because we’ve been used to navigate a hostile world with our fucked-up body and mind, we’ve acquired knowledges that are precious and could benefit so many. Yet, we’re still excluded from most political circles and reflexions. The denial needs to stop, so we can actually start to build some sort of cooperation without the fear (real or hypothetical) of being left behind the second we show a sign of weakness. And yes, it starts by making your space less unwelcoming for crips like me. How about starting to build bubbles of those futures now, in this actual mess? I don’t have the life expectancy to wait for better days anyway.

~ H

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