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.
Last night, I touched on a subject that I think needs more explanation: the blaming of the other party and the other race for the existence of racism. I think I need to state the obvious: No side is clean. We are all to blame for going around in circles and not taking our part in fighting racism. We are literally giving blame, and therefore power, to the other side for the racism in this country. The result of that? The gaining strength of racism and hate in this nation, of course.
Let me look at one which has dominated my feed: Republicans vs. Democrats.
Here’s a typical “infopic” running around the Republican circles:
And here’s a typical infopic running around the Democratic circles:
See? Both parties are blaming the other, and NOBODY is taking responsibility. Stop picking my pictures apart for one cotton picking second and just acknowledge that blame pictures exist.
Now, let’s look at Black and White racism blame:
Stop picking my pictures apart for one cotton picking second and just acknowledge that blame pictures exist.
Once again, going around in circles. Giving our responsibility and power away. Is it any wonder we feel so powerless? We’re giving our power away. If it is up to THEM, what can the US do about it? Nothing. If there is an US and a THEM, truth be told, it’s always the THEM that has all the power. The US is always washing their hands of any responsibility.
Let me make one thing clear: Hate exists in the minds of EVERYONE. EVERYONE must stand up and fight it. If we give the responsibility for eliminating racism to the “THEM,” we are denying our own responsibility in the process. Since I have to have a house fall on you, here is the falling house:
WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR RACISM.
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?
Have you noticed that the more different a person is from you, the less likely you are to take them at their word? Case in point: I have an African-American neighbor. She experienced racism when she once called the police to report criminal activity. The policeman threatened to lock HER up, even though SHE called the police. The policeman did not back off until a white man intervened on my neighbor’s behalf. While this is shocking to most white people, I decided to take her word for it, because I know racism persists like a virus in this world. I wonder, why do people deny the different person’s experience? Is it that people are more likely to trust their “Own Kind?” I do not have that luxury. I have met very few of my “Own Kind.” My “Own Kind” are autistic women, who have been taught by society’s wishes that they barely exist. Also, I was often taught to doubt myself and my own instinct in my family, and that kind of betrayal gives you a major distrust of anyone. So, what is taking a person at their own word? To me, it is revolutionary.
Some people have the luxury of trusting their own kind – mostly, white males. I’ve observed their behavior, these people who can trust their own, and it seems that they trust their own because they seem themselves in them. Why don’t you try to see yourself in people different from you? Is it because they are “less human” because they are not your clones? How much like you does the person have to be for you to trust them? Also, how much faith do you put in similarity anyway? Similarity is no guarantee of safety.
So there is an outbreak of measles in Minnesota among Somali-descended children, spreading to other vulnerable populations. I want you to understand that. What I don’t want you to do is point the finger at me about it. For the longest time, I thought that, being autistic and scary to a neurotypical population that is afraid of me, that I was the cause of unvaccinated measles outbreaks, in Minnesota and Southern California (at Disneyland, no less), especially since Jenny McCarthy literally blamed her son’s autism for all her suffering in life. But, in this case and others, I have already dismissed my existence as a cause of measles outbreaks, especially since now there are more complex, pointed reasons as to why there is an outbreak of measles they are dealing with in Minnesota. I want you to read the next sentences very carefully. That’s why I have separated them out.
The causes of the outbreak of measles in Minnesota are as follows:
- Ableism, represented as Anti-autism
The causes of the Disneyland outbreak in Southern California are as follows:
- Ableism, represented as Anti-autism
These lists are not finished. First, I want to discuss the discovered causes of the measles outbreak in Minnesota. Let me start with ableism.
Thank you so very much, Jenny McCarthy. Thank you, Andrew Wakefield. Thanks a lot, Autism Speaks. While I won’t go into the extremely non-duplicated, thoroughly debunked, corrupt and hateful so-called “study” of how you think the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine causes autism. I have felt personally responsible and personally attacked because of you. You have made children sick because of my existence. You have murdered over nine thousand children as of July 2015. And the cause of all this pain and destruction? The existence of autistic people. I am autistic. Therefore, you make ME a target. Your hatred of me justifies your actions of denying children their health, their immunity, even their lives. You justify your kills because of me. I am tired of being the cause for the loss of innocent lives.
Now, onto the next two causes, because they are interwoven and intersected. They are Racism and Xenophobia.
Now, when most white American people look at Somali immigrants, what do they see? They see dark skin – race being the previous mark of slavery, and they devalue the person. They see a foreigner – those “evil” people trying to come and take their lives, jobs and livelihood. They see a Muslim – and deem them dangerous, evil terrorists, not realizing that most Muslims HATE those terrorists. (Don’t get me started on some of my Muslim friends’ seething rage.) So, when these dark-skinned foreign so-called terrorists come to them with an issue – their children are getting autism – what do those white American people do? They ignore and deny help to these inferior people. So, what does the ableist, Anti-vaccine camp do? They listen, and recruit soldiers for their own terror. Herd immunity is compromised. And children in Minnesota now have measles, many of them hospitalized because their weak and developing immune systems are defenseless against the onslaught. Now do you see how danger and strife can get a foothold due to racism and xenophobia?
I am not here to bring anybody down, or anybody out. I am simply facing hatred in three intersecting directions of ableism, racism and xenophobia. Now, I know I am not black and an immigrant, but I will fight the diseased rot of ableism, racism and xenophobia right alongside its victims. I do it every day – even in my mind. When children are dying, there is something wrong. One absolutely must speak up for the sake of the future. One must speak up for the sake of the suffering children.
Content Warning: Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks has largely hijacked the dialogue about Autism. And as we know, Autism Speaks is just as mean and hateful towards the autistic person as the Ku Klux Klan is toward other races. Sure, they don’t say they want a cure now, but it still searches for “solutions.” Autism Speaks still describes our genomics as “MSSNG,” which is “MISSING without the I.” How negative is that? They want to “crack autism’s code.” To me, that means they still want to rid the world of autism.
Why do I hate Autism Speaks? Simple. I am their worst-case scenario. I am what they fear. I am different. I am an autistic adult.
You see, their way of thinking and processing the world is thought of as “right” and therefore “supreme” by them, the exact same way that whiteness is supreme, if you ask any Ku Klux Klan member. It makes me shudder to think how similar they are to the Ku Klux Klan in their hate.