Our Unfavorable Position / What We Could Have Had

Estelle Ellison
5 min readApr 28, 2023


Our Unfavorable Position

Assessing the trajectory of who did and did not become radicalized by the 2020 uprisings, it seems that many of the latter viewed that moment in a manner similar to how venture capitalists approach potential investments. Rather than feeling stirred to join centuries-long abolitionist struggles against anti-Blackness and risk what has been gained from keeping their heads down years prior, liberals instead viewed prison abolitionism as a trend they feared missing out on.

The image of a burning precinct disturbed the white american imagination such that many liberals and self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” alike wished only to appease those who might look at them with disdain and resentment as the intended benefactors of white supremacy. In stark contrast with an earnest fight to end oppressive violence, there was instead a frantic rush to clamor for positive regard from those who could not help but be fed up with an unthreatened status quo. We are now left with the memories of gestures that have left only a fleeting feeling that material changes have been made while oppressive power dynamics are left quite intact and are perhaps better equipped to repress anyone who refuses to build a more lethal normalcy.

Alongside a prison abolitionist movement that reached a national topic of conversation, the pandemic has continued. Evaluating how few people have taken and continue to take effective covid precautions reveals chilling implications of what today’s ableism looks like contrasted with ableism prior to the pandemic.

There is an even more glaring hostility towards accommodations, encouraging bolder resentment of those who must articulate their access needs in order to survive. These dynamics increase the loyalty between everyone rushing to build normalcy on the graves of over a million people who would still be alive were it not for callously selfish individualists and an insatiable capitalist state. Animosity for disabled people has been ever more seamlessly folded into day-to-day life.

What we are seeing is the severe amplification of oppressive trends that we have thus far been unable to put an end to. While some of us have fought hard to make modest gains and victories, many of us have had our efforts thwarted by the proliferation of reactionaries and opportunists in and around our respective networks. The underlying struggles we’ve been trying to surmount are all a direct result of the structural inequities capitalism is now leveraging against us more aggressively than before the pandemic.

We must take stock of the situation before us and the few remaining avenues for organizing ourselves all while struggling to survive an economy that has become drastically more fatal and callous.

The fact that we lack access to capitalist infrastructure has, as a matter of survival, pushed us to try creating our own networks of care and support, even though they are hard to sustain without at least some relationships to a funding class of people. Similarly, coming together to create communal resources during this pandemic and fascist tide often means contending with inter and intra-communal conflicts. We see these conflicts take form most notably as anti-survivorship and people’s unwillingness to accommodate disabled people. So many of us have had to leave homes, workplaces, organizations, friendships, relationships, or all of the above due to so many people’s attachment to values and practices that are incongruous with liberation.

We’ve had to scramble to figure out how to protect people in our networks from suffering the consequences of a capitalist economy, and that led many of us to rely more heavily on online platforms to find community and access financial support. A trade-off for this maneuver has been the fact that our online networks have become far more visible to reactionaries, opportunists, and the state. With emergency protocols ended, and mounting fascist movements worldwide, that visibility has made us a bigger target than before.

What We Could Have Had

There is a significant hostility for disabled, Black, queer, and trans people and survivors of abuse who have utilized the internet as a means of surviving fascism and the pandemic. For every group of disabled people and survivors who have been able to find support and create pockets of safety from abuse and ableism, there is another group of reactionaries cursing their losses. With more abolitionists learning to identify anti-survivorship, some resentful abusers and other reactionaries have begun downplaying what they gained from opportunistically aligning with mass abuse apologism. Instead, they now try co-opting the language of survivor support and disability justice in a desperate bid to preserve their power and influence.

We are having to learn painful lessons in the face of mounting and compounding challenges. We are locked in a cultural war against the forces of fascism strengthened by liberals hastily building a tomorrow made from eugenicist principles. Distinguishing revolutionary values and practices from their reactionary opposites has never been more difficult. For every bit of discernment we learn to exercise, there is an incoming fascist trend we must learn to combat and navigate.

It is hard not to wonder what we could have accomplished by now if all of us struggling to fight fascism from within the margins had received sustained mass support over the course of this ongoing pandemic. We are seeing multiple conflict trends emerge in response to this institutional neglect and a lack of formidable resistance to fascism. In place of wide networks that value support and safety, we instead often see marginalized individuals struggling to make up for collective skill gaps. Most end up burned out from a lack of support for themselves while they work to support others. Some just end up squeezed dry by groups and milieus who failed to recognize that an individual cannot sustainably do the work that should be conducted by entire communities en masse.

While voters continue to pray for the means of stopping fascism from coming to america (it’s already here), and a silver bullet to win back reproductive rights and prevent a trans genocide, it is hard not to notice the similarities between this lack of mass opposition to fascism and so many people’s present unwillingness to secure safety for disabled people. In this way, there is a quiet and deceptive dedication to both eugenicist normalcy and a bio-reductionist way of thinking that makes possible today’s loud nationwide crusade against queer, trans, and reproductive rights.

Where the 2020 uprisings inspired hope in many that we may see oppressed people liberated in our lifetimes, we must now assess the severity of the wounds that have been inflicted upon us as well as the impact of all the casualties we have now witnessed. It is in this grave context that we must, heartbreakingly, ask ourselves if we will see the end of fascism in our lifetimes. This somber reality must ground our next steps and inform how we will survive a fascist tide that has become strikingly efficient at recruiting and inspiring assimilation into its oppressive normalcies.

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Estelle Ellison

Time dissuades us from getting free... Black Trans Disabled Writer (She/They)