House Slaves in the Autism Community
Malcolm X tells you all you need to know about house slaves.
A few weeks ago, I was concerned by some very prominent autistic voices who help neurotypical bullies silence other people with autism when they disagree too strongly with the idea that parents should make all significant choices regarding autism policy. These same people always seem to believe that if autistic people do not communicate exactly as a skillful NT person would-- if, in other words we display impaired social interaction or communication skills-- that we are rude and horrible and hurting everyone and really need to just shut up. They don't seem to understand that autism IS impaired communication and social skills. And that by limiting the conversation to autistic people like themselves whose impairment in those areas is less severe, they are building themselves up in a way that damages the community as a whole. These people, who also tend to congratulate themselves on their "niceness," are the opposite of nice. They hurt us all.
I wrote The Cosby Syndrome, a lengthy essay considering the relationship of pioneers from minority groups to others in their community, to address those concerns.
Today I am concerned about house slaves in the autism community. And, again, I think it is best to address those concerns indirectly.
What is a house slave?
Malcolm X explains:
If you're afraid of black nationalism, you're afraid of revolution. And if you love revolution, you love black nationalism. To understand this, you have to go back to what the young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro back during slavery. There were two kinds of slaves, the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes - they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good because they ate his food - what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved the master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master's house - quicker than the master would. If the master said, "We got a good house here," the house Negro would say, "Yeah, we got a good house here." Whenever the master said "we," he said "we." That's how you can tell a house Negro.
If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, "What's the matter, boss, we sick?" We sick! He identified himself with his master, more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, "Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate," the house Negro would look at you and say, "Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?" That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a "house nigger." And that's what we call them today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here.
This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He'll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about "I'm the only Negro out here." "I'm the only one on my job." "I'm the only one in this school." You're nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, "Let's separate," you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. "What you mean, separate? From America, this good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?" I mean, this is what you say. "I ain't left nothing in Africa," that's what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa.
On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negroes - those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there were Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn't get anything but what was left of the insides of the hog.
The field Negro was beaten from morning to night; he lived in a shack, in a hut; he wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master, but that field Negro - remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn't try to put it out; that field Negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he'd die. If someone came to the field Negro and said, "Let's separate, let's run," he didn't say, "Where we going?" He'd say, "Any place is better than here."
Do we have house slaves in the autism community?
Are there autistic people who help the neurotypical organizations who want to eradicate us?
Are there autistic people who provide a token presence, so that those organizations can pretend to have "changed" when their funding priorities-- what they actually spend money and do-- show no evidence of having changed at all?