I’ve found myself becoming increasingly frustrated.
My work, my writing, this website, my Twitter, my Facebook page have never been merely about Autism. They can’t be.
The rights of Autistic, Neurodivergent and Disabled people are wrapped up in Social Injustice.
The same Social Injustice that creates Ableism, creates Racism.
The things that cause Autistic people to be marginalised and oppressed come from the same sources as those that cause Racism.
The social hierarchies that exist oppress all of us.
Of course all lives matter. Why would you even feel the need to say this?
Its disingenuous and it comes from an enormous place of White privilege.
Sometimes things just aren’t about us, whatever that may be. If someone says “Save the whales” does that mean they are excluding all other animals and want them to perish? Of course not.
What’s worrying, is that thinking this way, as so many seem to do is clear evidence that your thought process is fuelled by systemic Racism.
Racism has not just reappeared. Racism is not just an issue for the United States.
Right now and for a long time, Black people in Western countries including the UK (who many seem to think is immune from Systemic Racism), are everyday mocked based on appearances or cultural stereotypes, under-educated, suppressed, marginalised, feared, treated differently, viewed negatively, looked at with suspicion criminalised, excluded and oppressed by government, the Education system, the Media, the Police and the General Public all of which because of hundreds of years this happening.
You do not see this because you are White and don’t have to worry about it.
When you are not White and live under this narrative, trampled and trodden upon out of sight by people who are mostly ignorant of the fact that they are doing it, you have to think about these things ALL of the time.
In terms of Autism:
The Autistic community is not one thing made up of one train of thought. A community is made up of different people, from different backgrounds, with different ideas, who do different things but are connected with a common link.
That people either from outside the community, or inside it, describe the Autistic community as one homogeneous group is another, separate form of frustration for me. We are a diverse group of people by our very nature, of course there will be disagreements.
But, any injustice perpetuated on any part of any community is an injustice perpetuated on that entire community.
Any community is only as strong as its weakest members.
Yet, I’ve seen multiple instances of Autistic people denying that that race has anything to do with Autistic people.
In the support groups I run or am involved in running, we have had to take an extra stand, going from merely refusing to allow racist comments as always to actively taking a stand in highlighting racism within those groups.
Black Autistics, BIPOC Autistics and BAME Autistics have all the injustices perpetuated on Autistic people PLUS all the injustices perpetuated on people who are not White.
Autistics who are not white are often denied diagnoses (if its ever identified that they are eligible for diagnosis) because of Systemic Racism and all the reasons i outlined at the top of this.
Autistics who are not White are MORE marginalised, MORE oppressed, MORE invalidated.
That means that the injustices faced by Black Autistics, the Systemic Racism, the oppression and the marginalisation are all tied up with the Autism narrative. Which means that Race has EVERYTHING to do with Autism.
Autism does not sit in a bubble isolated from everything. There is grey and in that grey are interconnected issues you cannot separate from Autism: Disability, Race, Gender, Sex, Health, Education, Politics, Justice, History, Economics, Social Justice, and more;
Autism straddles all of these areas, intertwined and interconnected.
Which is why I call on the Autistic community to do better, because #AutisticBlackLivesMatter
Life straddles all these things, which makes what is going on in the US right now pertinent to those of us outside of the US AND White people.
What is happening there is a result of pressure: hundreds of years of being unseen (unless in a negative light), unheard, used and shat upon.
It is all OUR problem. It is all OUR fault. It is all OUR responsibility.
Of course all lives matter, #BlackLivesMatter isn’t saying they don’t. Its asking for all of us to give a shit about people that we as White people knowingly or unknowingly contribute to the oppression of.
Right now, instead of bickering about the morality of some people looting, instead of crying ‘All lives matter’, instead of trying to carve one issue in separation from another because it makes you uncomfortable; how about focusing on shutting up, opening your ears, listening and platforming.
And do it sustainably, not just because its on the news and in your field of vision.
Our kin are hurting and we need to support them, our support groups are places where the burden of education musn’t be on it’s Black members, but on the White members to go out and learn, to put together resources and make sure that Black members are protected from targeted, systemic and casual racism.
This is about leveling up who we are as people.
The Autistic community is not exempt from racism or being racist. Indeed the narrative and history of Autism is inherantly racist. We are products of the societies we live in, but that does not absolve us of responsibility.
I say all this in acknowledgement of my own privilege, of my own need to learn more and of my own need to do better.
Now is not the time to fear doing things wrong, it is the time to fear doing nothing at all.