An autistic person of color recently brought up a really valid point: many times, when persons of color bring up racism in the world, and even in autistic circles, many white people come up with “But you can’t condemn us! We’re LESS RACIST than neurotypicals!” or some other self-gratifying comparison. Here’s the problem with comparisons: they expose that you’re still affected by the same thing as the person you’re distancing yourself from! If you’re “less racist,” you’re still racist. If you’re “more open-minded,” that doesn’t mean your mind is completely open. You can’t excuse yourself from improvement. Just because you’re ahead of somebody in the race, it does not mean you are at the finish line. Self-improvement and tolerance are marathons, not the long jump. There is still work that needs to be done. Hitler was and is not the only Nazi, David Duke is not the only member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Something that grinds my gears is the notion that race decides your musical tastes. Some people have it in their heads that if you’re black you must listen to this music and if you’re white, you must listen to that music. If you ask me, that notion is ridiculous. There are race-crossing musicians appearing all the time. Eminem, Darius Rucker, In Living Color, Killswitch Engage’s lead singer, Sevendust’s lead singer, the list goes on and on. Maybe my opinion is more popular than I think, but I am stating that when a person likes a certain genre of music, they ought to be given free rein to explore and develop their talent to fit said genre. I grew up in the 1990s. I liked En Vogue and TLC as much as I liked Nirvana. “Free Your Mind” helped me challenge my views of many different types of people. Even back then, I got the feeling that this notion of race deciding musical taste was creeping into society. As I said before, just ridiculous.
- The whole treatment of Meg Griffin.
- Having to borrow a title from a show that treats their teen daughter like feces.
- The fact that I have to hide the fact that my very nice upstairs neighbor is black because some very powerful white people assume she is some kind of criminal.
- The fact that I am forty and only qualified to work in a fast food joint because I only have an Associate Degree.
- People who go swimming in pubic pools when they don’t feel well. Stay home and get well!
- The fact that I have to justify my autism diagnosis because I am not Sheldon Cooper, Raymond “Rain Man” Babbitt, or some other white male whose weird is life-throttling.
- The fact that I have yet to see an autistic girl who likes assumed girly things on T.V.
- That most of the autistic people in media are white, male and otherwise of a privileged class.
- That these stereotypes throttle non-white, non-male autistic people from being believed.
- That I am even having to mention these in the 21st Century.
Maybe I should keep quiet about Cinco de Mayo, but I really want to help bring about the truth in the celebration. So that’s what motivates me.
Most people in the United States use May 5th to down Margaritas or Mexican beers and get sloppy drunk – and throw those drinks back up – but as I’ve recently learned, that’s not the real reason to celebrate. As a person who chooses sobriety on the daily, I decided to learn the real reason behind this holiday that is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day. (You’re thinking of September 16 for that one.) What makes Cinco de Mayo so important is that it is a day in which Mexico contributes to the outcome of the USA’s Civil War.
In 1862, when this all happened, the Union Navy had the Confederates in a naval blockade. The cotton (and other things) of the South was not getting to places like France, who decided to try and set up a place to bypass the blockade and get their all-important cotton. They chose Puebla, which turned out to be a bad idea. The residents of Puebla were not to be pushed around, defeating the French there, and contributing to the eventual Union victory of the US Civil War. If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, you’ll have to travel to Puebla, because that’s probably the only place they celebrate Cinco de Mayo anyway.
So, in brief, Cinco de Mayo is really a US holiday to celebrate the major contributions of Mexico to the USA. I have no problem celebrating that – sober. I don’t like being drunk anyway.
Why do people need to act and believe their cartoons? Cartoons are what happens when people believe their stereotypes.
Here’s the problem with stereotypes: most people believe them, at least secretly.
Here is an example: A later episode of What Not to Wear featured a woman who dressed so feminine, she acted like a cartoon. Now this is an extreme example, but it is very close to stereotypes regarding women. A giant beehive, tons of bubblegum makeup, strands of pearls, and super-high heels.
Another example? Willie, a character in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. A most annoying and ingratiating character, yes, but she seems little more than a bundle of stereotypes. I’m not laying the blame at Capshaw’s feet, though. She is among a class of people who can portray anyone. The character was written stereotypically, the damsel in distress. Well, the damsel in distress was largely out of fashion by the 1980s, thanks to the introduction of Princess Leia and other more participatory lead women. Most people dislike the character of Willie, and she is counted among the most annoying characters ever put to film.
My point about bringing up the damsel in distress, and the character of What Not to Wear, are that these women are literally cartoons of femininity. The problem with cartoons is, most people believe them. They are detrimental to things like peace, love and understanding. I brought up feminine stereotypes because they are ones I am closest to, but here’s a good example of detriment: How many persons of color have been followed in a store because the people who work there think the person of color is an automatic thief? How about all the women who have been denied their autism diagnosis simply because they are women? There’s the “aggressive, savage” black person, the “hysterical” Hispanic, and the “math genius-ninja” Asian. Sure, there are a few people who fit the stereotype, but most of them do not. Let me break it down: Who is going to listen to someone “hysterical”? Who is going to stock up on guns to protect themselves from the “aggressive savage”? Most people are fighting the cartoon version of their kind daily.
Why can’t people be real?
What can I say about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.? How he championed nonviolence? How his struggles for the black people and others spurs my own civil rights struggle? (Yes, as an autistic, and a woman, I struggle for love, acceptance and civil rights.) Yes, I can say a lot about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And his legacy, but I feel that others can do it much better than I can. So I will let them.
You have to scream the title like a horror movie final girl to get the full effect.*
How many times have you dealt with somebody who was a little different from you? Many times, I am sure. Trouble is, many of us have not dealt with different in our lives as much as others. And the sad thing is, dealing with different may just be the key to overcoming different. And yet, with the trend toward dividing up and shrinking back into racial and religious divides, fear and hate helps different keep us apart.
Now, I know that the rich, white and powerful have most of the prejudice and hate on lockdown. That is a fact. That is how they stay in power. What I am saying is, there are people on all sides, not just black and white, need to overcome the prejudice inside their own heads in order to function.
I’m not even talking about Black Lives Matter or antifascists at this point. I do not believe they are a terrorist group. It’s a shame that it only takes a color of skin to designate one group terrorist and another group not. It is a shame that I even have to waste space on this declaration.
What I am talking about is the person who shuts their ears to another person, simply because there is a different trait. I am talking about the white person who closes his ears to the understanding person of color, as well as the person of color closing his ears to the understanding white person. I am talking about the person who says “You are just a ______” and name that difference. With a closed mind and a cold heart, they become part of the problem of hate that is about to destroy the United States of America.
How does this manifest in my own life? I am glad you asked. This manifests in my life with a chilling precision; I fear these words will not get to the people who need to hear them, because I am autistic, and white, and cisgender, and female, and fat. I have just listed six reasons people shut out my words. I am sure there are many more.