by Jennifer A. Zelnick
I have spent the past year actively trying to convince myself that I am not sick. This is my attempt to try to reconcile feeling fine or mostly fine, with the often-invisible threat of illness—a concept much of the world is grappling with in the age of Covid-19, but which many chronically ill and disabled people have confronted daily for years or their entire lives. It is my attempt to put my own real privilege into conversation with the vulnerability I feel for myself, and the real vulnerability experienced by my interlocutors—deported Cambodian-American refugees.I begin with an acknowledgement of my own positionality: I am a Jewish, cis woman, in a relationship with a man. I am an American citizen. I have an intergenerational emergency financial safety net. I am highly educated. As a PhD candidate at UC Irvine, I have year-round health insurance and a guaranteed paycheck as a TA for nine months out of the year. Despite the real needs for a COLA—a cost of living adjustment for all graduate and undergraduate workers at the University of California—as my colleague Elizabeth Hanna Rubio so poignantly argues (2020), I and my partner will find a way to make ends meet.