Safer at Home: Exploring the ONE Archives Collection

Week 13 (July 20, 2020)

This exhibition began with a photograph of an AIDS protest sign denouncing the shortage of hospital beds for AIDS patients. As COVID cases rise across the U.S., this picket sign from the LA chapter of ACT UP carries important messages and reminders. The sign, in the shape of a tombstone, is simple but powerful. Printed in block letters with a black marker and filled in with a pink highlighter, the text reads: “No Bed! Now I’m Dead.” At first glance, this sign, like the one posted earlier, alludes to the shortage of hospital beds. Read again, it might also draw attention to those who do not have access to needed medical care due to lack of health insurance, financial insecurity, or limited geographic access to hospitals. Those who are wealthy and white are more likely to have the ability to access high quality care and the means to more easily take time off from work in order to seek medical care or care for a loved one. 

Reading this phrase for a third time, the second sentence stands out. With more than 580K deaths worldwide and 138K in the US, it is important to grasp the grim reality of this virus. Furthermore, as reported by the CDC, “Among some racial and ethnic minority groups, including non-Hispanic black persons, Hispanics and Latinos, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, evidence points to higher rates of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 than among non-Hispanic white persons.” Safer at home does not mean safe at home, and we must continue to fight for the most vulnerable among us. 

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