Musings on Prejudice

Definition of prejudice  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

  1. 1 :  injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especiallydetriment to one’s legal rights or claims 
  1. 2a (1) :  preconceived judgment or opinion (2) :  an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.  2b :  an instance of such judgment or opinions :  an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics 

My first experience with Prejudice was a magazine cover on a news magazine. It was a series of differently colored or shaded(?) fists surrounding planet Earth. I asked dad what prejudice was, and he told me. He also warned me about not having prejudice, since it was one of those evils in society. In my family, we believed in equality. We believed humanity was humanity. This is why, today, I am an avowed opponent of ethnic separatist groups, the Ku Klux Klan among them. I believe separating and segregating people apart causes unnecessary fear and anxiety in people. I believe everybody is in the same race – the human race. There are people walking around everywhere as a testament to it. This is why I say what I say about the events in Charlottesville and other race relations hot spots. 

I cannot sit by while people are murdering each other because of minor differences that seem so much. I cannot sit idly by while hate rules in the halls of American government. I know violence is wrong on both sides. However, when the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and other segregationist groups want to destroy the multicultural diversity that actually makes this nation great, I cannot stand idly by and sit silent. I cannot sit idly by, because I am a firm believer in equality. I was raised as a firm believer in equality.  

I may not go to the protests and marches due to various circumstances, such as disability and economic hardship, but I speak wherever I can. I speak on my social media. I sincerely disagree with Trump’s approach to race relations. Yes, there was violence on many sides. But sometimes, you have to take a side. Unfortunately, you either stand against intolerance, or you are intolerant. The ultimate paradox of tolerance, is that you have to be intolerant against intolerance. The whole world has seen the results of accepting intolerance. It caused World War II, as a matter of fact. 

Sure, you can blame the other side for race baiting and the presence of prejudice. Both Democrats and Republicans do this. But what if we stopped blaming each other, came together as one, and vowed to do something BESIDES blame? Would that not be more effective? If we forgave each other (NOT excused, by the way) for race baiting and prejudice, stopped doing it ourselves, and finally decided to work on it together, would that not be more effective a weapon against hate?  

Too Concerned with Mental Health at Times? 

When I heard an actress, who had recently given birth, was getting health with her postpartum depression, I felt that concern time was over because I somehow knew she was in good hands. I often wonder if that concern was prematurely ended. I mean, since she was in good hands, she was getting good help, right?  

I was wondering: when should you be concerned with a person’s mental health, and when should you be NOT concerned? Also, could you be too concerned? Could that concern actually be thinly-veiled fear? 

When you’re dealing with your own mental health, I think concern should be best had by the person themselves. Mental health persons, when dealing with it, can be their own best advocates. Besides, they know what is best for them a majority of the time, especially in dealing with the tedious trial-and-error method of mental health medication. I am a fan of telling the doctor everything that is going on with your body, mind and mood. I know it’s long and drawn out. I myself had to tell my own prescriber that I was not feeling and functioning when they switched my prescription on me once. I am even glad there is somebody who looks out for me and my mental state as well. Unfortunately, few of those with mental illness have that person who really looks out for them. I know I am blessed in that aspect.  

About excess concern: that is usually a veiled fear of mental illness itself, and the various aspects of the behavior. I must speak again and again of the stigma, fear and hate that surrounds us who have mental illness, and our families. Pushing it under the rug will do nobody any favor. As a matter of fact, stigma gives mental illness a cover of darkness, and darkness is the perfect environment for the illness to spread and fester like bacteria, claiming lives and families as it grown. It is only in exposure to the light of day that we can fight it. 

So, what is the limit of concern? Where do we stop being scared for the person and begin to help the person in their fight for their health?  

Dealing with Disappointment from Some Things

I recently talked about the stigma showing in a recent episode of The Carmichaels. As I was thinking in the past few days, I came to the realization that some people might get the wrong idea on my opinion of the entire show, that I don’t like the entire show. Well, in my humble opinion, that’s just silly. Of course I like the show. It’s hilarious, discusses the issues of the day, and has David Alan Grier. What could not be more likable? It’s just like the Benedict Cumberbatch and autism debacle I fell into a little while ago. I like Benedict Cumberbatch a LOT. Why do you think the commentary surrounding autism and autistic people hurts so much? I mean, name screw-up jokes about him are not funny. You’re not John Travolta or a Starbucks Cup. The point is, just because something gets a little problematic does not mean you cannot like it. Critical thinking is needed at this point. I mean, just because something may disappoint you in one instance does not mean you should abandon it altogether. Give it a chance to redeem itself. I believe there is a point where you do need to give up on something, but it is much farther away than you think. Sometimes, you need to separate yourself from liking a certain point of the person, without kicking a person or show to the curb. It’s not easy, but you have to decide if you give up on something that disappoints you or not. As a matter of fact, I do like Benedict Cumberbatch and The Carmichaels. They may have disappointed me, but they have still proven themselves good and entertaining. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.  

Stigma on TV: The Carmichaels Edition

I’m getting real mad at The Carmichael Show. This is what facing mental illness stigma is like. 

Well, the episode started with the matriarch crying by herself in the kitchen, while nobody else knew. The elder son’s girlfriend, who is a therapist, caught her, and the matriarch would not let her help her. They went out to the living room, where the girlfriend told the men (and got called a snitch), who began a discussion about depression. The discussion following reeked with stigma. There was talk of weakness, of not talking about it, of saying it only happened to rich and (implied) white people, and even self-medication with weed. It literally took holding the day’s plans hostage to actually get her to go to therapy. She eventually went to therapy, but admitted she lied about everything. It took a fight out front in the living room and admitting the pressure she put herself under to get her to go to therapy again.  

Anyway, I summarized the episode because I’m still processing the information. It makes me mad because if this is what we with mental illness face going into various communities, it’s no wonder so many of them are going to jail! Now, I’m not blaming the African American community at large for the crimes of a few. That is not the problem. The problem is stigma. The problem is hate and discrimination against the “crazy” (and yes, that word was used at one point), which will get them locked up in jail or prison before they get help. The largest mental health institution in the United States is the Cook County Jail in Chicago. Perhaps if people were encouraged to seek help for their problems, maybe they would not wind up in jail! It often takes TV shows like The Carmichael Show encouraging getting help to get people to get help. Unfortunately, I feel they dropped the ball on this one. Why not fight the stigma?  

Autism Reality Show: A Reality Show No One Wants, But One We Need 

I Just read an article about a TV show concerning an autistic character. According to the review, it is simply the same “Experts because they know someone autistic” who gets a LOT of autism wrong. The show has not even come out on Netflix yet, and I’m disappointed. Maybe it could apply to one autistic character or person, but not a great majority. See, there is autism in all races, cultures, genders and sexualities.

I somehow think that the best interpretation of autism on TV is one which groups several autistic people together, of different ages, races and genders, and simply follows them around. You know, an autism reality show. No inspiration porn, no neurotypical censorship, no getting autistics wrong. Just autistic people, navigating a world that is not for them. But I think nobody will take it. Neurotypicals like to get autistic people and put them in a little box. Trouble is, if you don’t fit in this little box, you’re not autistic. Even professionals withhold help because women and people of color, and successful people too, do not fit into this little box. They withhold help in the form of refusing to diagnose autistic people with their autism. This is why we need an autism reality show in the form I described.

Besides, if you were a bird who could fly, would you rather not learn how to fly from a bird?

The Incredible Shrunk World of the Disabled Person  

Now, I am currently on vacation at my aunts’ place, who live in a small town in southern Kentucky. Now, this is unremarkable. What is remarkable is how incredibly small one of my aunts’ world can be at most times. It is hard for her to even get to the most basic, menial places. The place is fairly isolated, and the aunt I’m referring to has disabilities, too. It would be hard leaving her without any help for me, so I’m glad my other aunt can be somewhat helpful. What I marvel at his how small and shrunken the world for her seems.

I’m a person with a shrunken world, too. My parents divorced when I was sixteen, and my elder sister had already moved away, so nobody taught me how to drive. I need my mother to drive me places. On most days, my world does not extend past the end of our street. At least I walk the dog. Yet, on most days, my mother can barely walk upright, let alone get to the car. I do the cooking for both of us. At least it’s a short distance between her spots around the house. We live in a rather small apartment, and for me, at least, the walls can close in around both of us. When I write about these things, know this: I’m not writing for sympathy. I am writing to let you know how incredibly small the world of a disabled person can be.

Just so you know, I am turning forty in a few weeks. By comparison, many forty-year-olds have a job, a spouse, maybe some children, and a few activities to immerse themselves in. They often commute to work. They may have to drive some distance to get to the grocery store. My most common grocery store is just three blocks away. Fortunately, I can walk to many of my favorite places because they are within five blocks. Now, to get to something like paying the electric bill, I need someone to drive me. Good thing my mom drives. She also helps with my mental and emotional health, too. She’s very useful on several things. Of course, I cook and clean, and she appreciates it. We do for each other.

I never said either one of us is useless. We help each other daily. Without the other, it would be a very small world for both of us.

A Closer Look at Glorifying Autism

I just heard the most ridiculous thing: we autistics are “glorifying” autism. I would like to know: How do you do that? How do you glorify something when you can’t help but be that something? This contends to be a twofold problem: One, people are upset that there are autistic people out there in the first place. Two, they are upset that these autistic people are not going away. These accusations of “glorifying” autism are simply one thing in particular: they are undeniable proof that people have a hate of autistic people because they choose not to understand them. They are willfully ignoring us because of anti-autistic prejudice.

Anti-autistic prejudice has existed since the discovery of autism itself. There is no denying that. What exists around it is that people are willing to stick their fingers in their ears and yell “LA LA LA LA LA” at autistic people, as if they think autistic people have no idea what is going on with them. Why do you not take autistic people at their word? Is it because you are going to find out you might be wrong about us? This inexperienced “expertise” is one of the things most Actually Autistic People hate about Autism Speaks. Yeah, there may be so-called “experts” on the field of autism now, but it is only after an autistic campaign of shame and exposure, and for us, it’s too little, too late. Those neurotypical experts, I believe, come from the same position of autism as most White Americans on the position of Africa. The position is as such: they know what it is, they maybe have seen it somewhere, but have they experienced it? No. Only people who have been to Africa can actually tell you about Africa. Likewise, only people who are autistic can fully tell you about the experience of autism.

So, about “glorifying” autism: this seems to me, as I have said before, a simple sign of trouble with autistic people existing. Why don’t you just say: “We hate autistic people?” I mean, be honest. Isn’t that what you always really wanted to say? Usually, somebody talking about “glorifying” something that simply exists is actually wanting to say how much they hate it. They are saying they do not want to be reminded that it exists. They want it to go away. They hate it. They hate us.

Why do I speak of hate in the “glorifying” accusations? Simple: it is there. Usually, when a “glorifying” accusation is thrown out, it is thrown out at something unpleasant that people want to go away. Here are a few: glorifying drugs, glorifying LGBT existence, glorifying single motherhood; I could go on. What all these things people are supposedly glorifying have in common is this: they are unpleasant to some. What these accusations of glorifying do not do is help. They simply drive these unpleasant things underground, where they can thrive in the fertile ground of secrecy. We need to talk of unpleasant things. No, we are not glorifying that.