Fieldnotes

Our Fieldnotes section highlights notable ephemera and other materials — photographs, posters, artwork, event documentation, social media campaigns, and beyond  — encountered during our research that document the experiences of diverse disabled people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please note: this page displays notes in a random order each time it is loaded or refreshed.

Screenshot of Imani Barbarin, a Black disabled activist, speaking at the camera on TikTok.

Covid-19 as a Mass Disabling Event

In December 2020, Imani Barbarin (responding to a TikTok by Ram Danielle on the long term effects of Covid) created a TikTok post (@crutches_and_spice) in which she powerfully stated, “I cant stress this to you all enough, but Covid-19 is a mass disabling event. People are becoming disabled because of…...

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Five Black and brown men (from left to right: Vince, Jay, Tito, Pete and Var) sit in wheelchairs outside, all lined up in a straight horizontal line facing the camera. They wear T-shirts and sneakers and some wear baseball caps. They all look into the camera with serious expressions.

Fire Through Dry Grass

Jay (second from left) is Co-Director of an upcoming documentary, Fire Through Dry Grass, that is centered on a group of people living at Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island, a rehabilitation and nursing center in New York City. These men formed the Reality Poets, and are part of OPEN DOORS, a network of…...

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Downstate New York ADAPT Activists in Washington, DC

Downstate New York ADAPT activists travelled to Washington, DC on May 9 and 10, 2022, protesting in front of the Capitol to demand accessible, affordable, and integrated housing. The group challenged the nursing home industry as high cost structures with poor and dangerous clinical outcomes, as well as isolation and…...

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An animated, anthropomorphized mouse newscaster shown on a laptop, with a chiron that reads "New York is now the epicenter of the crisis."

2 Lizards animated series

2 Lizards, the brilliant eight-part series of short animations, captures the overwhelming sense of anxiety and isolation — as well as the occasional sense of shared community — that so many NYC residents experienced during the first few months of the pandemic when the city was the epicenter of the…...

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Graphic on a mostly black background with yellow shapes that suggest warning through red and yellow. Text says: 'COMMIT TO LONG COVID JUSTICE. Pandemics are Chronic. Sign the pledge. Visit TinyURL.com/PandemicsAreChronic or follow the link in our bio to read the full pledge & sign. @LongCOVIDJustice.'

#LongCOVIDJustice: Pandemics Are Chronic

In March 2022, the National Network for Long COVID Justice was launched as a coalition of groups representing people with Long Covid and other chronic illnesses (including notable leadership of ME/CFS activists) to insist that governments and institutions take seriously the chronic aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The coalition released…...

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Screenshot of tweet from @KateMcWilli that says: "We are all talking about how it feels to see ableds accommodating themselves with the the accessibility that we disabled people fight for every day, all because of #COVIDー19. Let's use the hashtag #AccessiblilityForAbleds when we talk about this. I want to hear your thoughts!"

#AccessibilityForAbleds

On March 7, 2020, as North American cities began to respond to the pandemic with remote school and work options, Canadian disability activist Kate McWilliams created the hashtag #AccessibilityForAbleds. The pandemic revealed how easy it was to provide certain accommodations that disabled and chronically ill people had been demanding, unsuccessfully, for…...

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Screenshot of Facebook post from CPC Open Door Senior Center showing collage of images of Chinese-American seniors engaging in various activities and celebrations (full post embedded)

CPC Open Door Senior Center 50th Anniversary

Established in 1972, Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) Open Door Senior Center has become a community space for elderly Chinese immigrants in NYC for 50 years. Reuniting with friends, various performances, and delicious food are our way of celebrating this milestone. — Shuting Li

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Rebelwheels appear in a collage in which she breathes fire, with multicolor hair and wearing a horned French beret with the words "resisto", "power", "heart", "mouth", "soul", "love" pasted around her.

“Disabled In NYC : #MyCovidStory”

In her blog entry “Disabled In NYC : #MyCovidStory?,” Rebelwheels NYC aka Michelle Kaplan discusses her reality during COVID as a disabled person receiving services at home, losing her usual CDPA home aides over a lack of resources, and contracting COVID from the ones sent by a more traditional agency.…...

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Screenshot of NYC Department of Education website with a section entitled "More Special Education Support Will Be Available for Students with Disabilities" (full text available at link in post).

NYC Department of Education Academic Recovery Plan

On July 8, 2021 Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter discussed the Academic Recovery Plan on the NYC Department of Education (DOE) website. Acknowledging that disabled students had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the DOE plan included the following bullet points: We will launch afterschool and Saturday programs for students with IEPs to…...

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A young man stands in a hard, hugging a rainbow umbrella

Ethan Jones’s Coming Out Ritual

Autistic activist Ethan Jones, age 26, photo by Maria Hodamarska (mother), taken June 2020. When the pandemic hit New York, the family moved to Deer Isle, Maine. While there, Ethan told us, that he had time to reflect and embrace what had been an emergent gay identity. On the last…...

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A community memorial featuring images and text attached to a tree, with a large pile of flowers placed at the base of the tree

In Memory of Lives Lost

This is a picture of an ad-hoc memorial to Christina Yuna Lee, outside of the Chrystie Street apartment building where she died. Her murder has been reported as both part of a rising tide of anti-Asian violence in New York City and part of the uniquely gendered violence that Asian women, in…...

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A tweet showing protestors in Albany, The texts from Kendra Scalia and Audrey Sasson read that 22 of them got arrested.

Fair Pay for Home Care

The pandemic has the existing hardships that afflict the home care workers, forcing them to leave to seek better paying jobs, causing a devastating shortage in home services which continues to grow. An alliance of senior, disability, and family care organizations as well as advocates formed and demanded that the…...

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Line graph of "New Positive Cases in DOE & Charter Schools (weekly)," separated by students and staff, from October 2021 to October 2022. The chart shows a major spike in cases in January 2022 (totally more than 65,000 cases total), and smaller spikes in May 2022 (peaking at just over 10k cases) and late September (peaking at just over 5k cases).

The People’s Dashboard by Press NYC

Parents for Responsible Equitable Safe Schools (PRESS NYC) is a parent collective founded in 2020, spanning NYC zip codes and cultures, to “hold the DOE, the Mayor, and the education press accountable.” Among their projects is The People’s Dashboard, reporting weekly Covid cases in the city as well as confirmed…...

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Screenshot of "High-Risk Pandemic Stories: A Syllabus" on Disability Visibility website (full text available via link in post)

Alice Wong’s High-Risk Pandemic Stories: A Syllabus

A compilation of essays, interviews, and podcast episodes posted to the Disability Visibility Project site in 2020 and 2021. Compiling this material into a “syllabus” in January 2022, Wong writes, “Since March 2020 I have been collecting strands of disabled wisdom about the pandemic and trying to gather, weave, and…...

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A prototype for a mural with the headline "Say Their Names" featuring a Black power fist with the infinity symbol and the words “Black Disabled Lives Matter” written down the wrist of the fist. There are images that spell out "BDLM" in ASL and a list of names of Black Disabled people killed by police.

Jen White Johnson: Black Disabled Lives Matter Mural Project

Artist, designer, educator, and activist Jen White Johnson created several designs for mural projects honoring Black disabled individuals who were killed by police, as she writes: Since sharing the details of this mural, many disability collectives have reached out to me asking how they can create this mural in their…...

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Photo by People's CDC on May 29, 2022. May be an image of map and text that says 'More than 96% of US residents live in an area with subsantial or high COVID-19 transmission. People's CDC COVID-19 Transmission Levels MAY 26 source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fCous %ofPop. Moderate 16.52% 15.53% 61.27% 3.44% 5.28%'.

The People’s CDC

The People’s CDC was founded in 2022 in response to the CDC “creating the appearance that the pandemic is over.” According to the group’s website, which offers resources and weekly Covid transmission reports, “The People’s CDC is a coalition of public health practitioners, scientists, healthcare workers, educators, advocates and people…...

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a poster with yellow text on a black and white mottled background reads: Remote Access: A Crip Nightlife Gathering, Sunday March 22, 5-6 pm EST

Remote Access: A Crip Nightlife Gathering

Critical Design Lab threw the first in a series of Remote Access Crip Nightlife Gatherings over Zoom on March 22, 2020. The Remote Access website explains, “Disabled people have long used remote access as a method for organizing pleasure and kinship. We call forth our community for an afternoon and…...

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Screenshot of Chalkbeat article titled "How remote learning upended instruction for NYC students with disabilities and their families" featuring an image of a mother holding her son.

Chalkbeat Reports on Disabled NYC Students during Covid

Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education reporting platform that covers 8 U.S. cities, added Covid reporting to its ongoing series about learning differences and special education in the New York City schools. A June 17, 2020 article offers an overview of the ways “remote learning upended instruction for NYC students with disabilities…...

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Multiple people laying on the sidewalk holding signs in front of the White House

#MillionsMissing: #MEAction Protests at White House

On September 19, 2022, the activist group #MEAction held a series of protests at and around the White House in Washington, DC, demanding that President Biden declare Long Covid and ME/CFS a national emergency with increased funding for medical education, research, and treatment. Despite knowing that participating in such an…...

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Screnshot of Twitter from Imani Barbarin saying: "Contrary to popular belief, @CDCDirector , disabled people aren’t just data points. Every life lost was loved by someone, someone’s community member, someone’s friend. How callous to say you’re encouraged by the prospect of their deaths. #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy"

#MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy

On January 7, 2022 CDC director Rochelle Walensky made a remark on Good Morning America about deaths from the Omicron variant of Covid that provoked outrage in the disability community: “These are people who were unwell to begin with. And yes: really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.” In…...

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Screenshot of a GoFundMe page for Crip Fund, with an image of a small bottle of hand sanitizer with an Ace of Cups tarot image as its label. The page shows that $56,925 was donated during the short fundraiser.

Crip Fund

Ninety-five percent of artists lost significant income during the pandemic, with performances and exhibitions cancelled and access to studio spaces restricted. A group of disabled and chronically ill artists organized Crip Fund in March 2020, pooling money and distributing food, medicine, and other aid to “immunocompromised and disabled people in need of in-home…...

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Screenshot of video featuring a Black woman speaking about her experience becoming sick with ME/CFS.

#MEAction’s “Stop. Rest. Pace.” Resources

From the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), an illness often triggered by a viral infection (such as Epstein Barr virus), were among the first to raise alarms about the possible implications of post-viral illness following acute infections. As the pandemic progressed,…...

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A young woman wheelchair user poses in front of a mural of outstretched wings, posing triumphantly with her hands in the air.

Samantha’s second vaccination

Samantha Myers photographed by Michelle Schwab two weeks after Samantha’s second vaccination, February 2021. Mural by Jeff Rose King on Bleecker St in Greenwich Village where Sam lives. — Faye Ginsburg

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Screenshot of tweet from user @KirkCruz: "How about: LGBTQ+ folks mobilized & demanded help We didn’t sit around waiting for the government to get its shit together. We organized vaxx events at our *bars*, we told our friends, many abstained from sex while waiting to get vaxxed Just like we had to do in the 80s & 90s"

Queer Mobilizations To Counter Monkeypox

As fears of Monkeypox spread arose in the spring and summer of 2022—particularly in and around communities of men who have sex with men and their sexual partners—many were concerned about the possibility of yet another overlapping pandemic, especially one that might further stigmatize LGBTQ populations at a time when…...

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A tweet from Rent Refusers Network showing a confrontation between activists, the SRG, NYPD, DSNY and DHS at the unhoused camp called "Anarchy Row." (Tweet accessible in post.)

Anarchy Row: NYC’s Management of the Unhoused

More images: In early April 2022, NYC’s administration engaged in a series of sweeps on unhoused encampments in the city in an effort to reduce homelessness in the city. The sweeps consist in dismantling the camps, dislodging people, and discarding their belongings and redirecting them in safe havens or stabilization…...

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The black-and-white graphic features a silhouette of a person in profile holding a syringe in one hand. The silhouette has been mirrored both vertically and horizontally so that the figure appears in each corner of the graphic. Written above the figures in varying font sizes from top to bottom are “Stop Rationing Care,” “Stop Medical Apartheid,” “Vaccinate Now,” “Global Inoculation Against Viral Fascism,” “End Eugenics,” and at the bottom of the image “End Vaccine Hoarding.”

Brothers Sick: Pareidolia (Vaccinate Now)

Pareidolia (Vaccinate Now), one of the posters created by Brothers Sick (Ezra Benus and Noah Benus) during the pandemic, reminds that vaccination is urgent but not always straightforward. The Brothers Sick demand an end to medical rationing, the rationing of care, and vaccine hoarding on a global scale. Sussanne Pfeffer, director…...

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Linoleum block print of black and white sunflowers with yellow petals growing on either side of the words “Disabled people deserve to live” in dark green lettering.

Roan Boucher (AORTA): Disabled People Deserve to Live

From AORTA’s Instagram: Ableism has informed the US’s pandemic response since the beginning. Last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cited the “encouraging” data that the majority of Covid deaths are in those with 4 or more pre-existing medical conditions. This statement and its phrasing lay bare what disabled people have…...

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Share Your Stories & Materials

In addition to the ethnographic interviews and oral histories initiated by our team of faculty and graduate students, we are eager to be in dialogue with any members of the community who wish to have their experiences preserved. Our digital repository will be preserved and made accessible by the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, a part of NYU Special Collections, at New York University.

We invite you to share your experiences in one of the following ways: Testimonials, Images & Artifacts, and Interviews / Oral Histories.

Please note: due to size and scope considerations, not all materials will necessarily be included in the archive or website.