I get it. I am a white woman. In that, I am privileged, to a degree. I am also autistic, but I did not receive the controversial Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, nor did I get other types of “therapy” such as restraint and seclusion. I am also fat. Let’s face it. I am 4’ 11” and a size 20. There are some things which give me a certain amount of privilege, plus a very loving and accepting mother, and a father who loved me the way he could. Now, with all of this going for me, why do I care about the person with skin darker than mine, the person in the wheelchair’s dignity, the fellow autistic who was abused? There are a myriad of reasons why. I am compelled to be concerned about my fellow man and woman, and understand why they might have a degree of mistrust toward me. I get that. As I explore these reasons and troubling, unfair and often untrue stereotypes about this type of person or that type of person, I also get my eyes opened to some pretty stupid and cruel treatment of others by people I am familiar with. For instance, one of my friends a couple of years ago got offended by another woman talking about her and her race as “you people” negatively. I’m not sure if that other woman’s eyes are opened yet, but my eyes definitely are.
It is wrong, and visually comical, to try and set a type of people into a narrow box of behavior. Let me give you an example from my own life. A stereotype of autism is that we are all skinny white men who are proficient in math and cannot grasp intangible subjects, like love and fashion. I have only met one person who could wholly fit the stereotype, and he was not autistic. Besides, my family taught me how to love, and What Not To Wear demystified fashion for me. Let me also tell you something: I am not a skinny man. Have you been reading this? If so, I applaud you. We have a saying among the autistic community: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. I swear, other people think we have a hive behavior or a hive mind or something. We do not all react to everything the same way.
We all are members of different cultures and families; we all, however, have one thing to set us in common: We all have human hearts. We cannot live without our hearts. We have an innate sense of right and wrong as well. Our differences are so many, yet there are so many things we have in common. Besides, those in power love to point out the differences of the oppressed to keep them fighting each other, so they can stay in power. I’ll wax on that another time. Let’s come together among our commonalities so we can help each other and do what’s right. That is why I care about others who are different from me, because those differences are minor in comparison to the fact that we all have human hearts.