Last week I wrote a little about why I stopped blogging the news.
Yesterday, I listened to an amazing episode of the This Week in Blackness podcast which stated the emotional reasons why much more clearly. They replayed highlights from earler episodes, including a response to a Psychology Today blog post from a couple of years ago in which Satoshi Kanazawa tried to explain why black women are objectively less physically attractive than other people. It was an amazingly racist, scientifically stupid article, and Psychology Today parted ways with him because of it.
In the podcast, Bassey Ikpi gives an amazing rant about how destructive it is when people mix science and bigotry. Listen to it here-- it's four minutes in.
And warning, her language is strong.
She says, in part:
What I'm really pissed off about is that I feel that as a Black woman, there is this constant and consistent attack... Every single day, there's an interview, there's an article, there's a book-- there's something that's coming that's saying that Black women are not as wanted, needed, appreciated, attractive-- whatever negative thing that could possibly be brought out, Black women are either the cause of it or the butt end of it... We're the reason why there's crime in our communities, we're the reason there's a lack of education, we're the reason why everyone's on welfare. There's a reason why we're not wanted, we can't get married, nobody wants us, nobody finds us attractive...
I'm sick of it... At some point it's no longer "Don't take it personally," or "You can just ignore it" or "You have enough self-esteem," or "You know that you're beautiful." That's not the fucking point... I'm tired of hearing it...
At the end of the day, it's doing so much harm because how am I supposed to tell some little girl that you're supposed to be happy about being black and a woman when all you hear is how undesirable you are, how unwanted you are? There's not enough self-esteem in the fucking world to keep going up against this shit.
I'm tired of it. I'm sick of it. It's too much. I don't want to see another book, another article, another fucking poll. I don't want to see it anymore. It's too much. It's too much...
How are we supposed to just live our lives?
I don't know what it is like to be a black woman.
But I do know what it is like to read, over and over, how unwanted we are.
How we are the cause of everyone's problems.
How science proves that we are inferior.
How can I tell you to love your own autistic self in a world that never stops telling us how unloved we are?
For now, I need to shut the windows, turn off the phone, and just look at your beautiful faces.
I love you.
I love us.
And that's why I stopped blogging the news.
So mostly what I used to do here is try to bring together news about autism.
And I've mostly stopped doing that for now.
And I want to explain why.
I got tired of the stories they tell about us.
One of the things I learned from following the news very closely for a few years is that mostly reporters tell the same stories, over and over. They just fill in the blanks with different names.
These are the stories people tell about autism:
1) Autism is ruining everything! And it's getting worse and worse!
This is your basic Autism Awareness Horror Story. It's about using the raising rates of diagnosis to scare people into giving someone money.
2) My autistic child is ruining my life.
Somebody's mom or dad talks about how the stress or expense or scary behavior of autistic children is ruining their lives. It's about getting more services.
3) This causes autism.
Everything causes autism! The internet, old dads, abused moms, antidepressants, highways, cleanliness-- whatever! This is about using the word "autism" to bring attention to some other thing that someone is all excited about.
4) Autistic person does thing
Described brilliantly by Zoe Gross here.
5) Someone did something nice for some autistic person.
I like this one.
6) This will cure autism.
No, it won't.
7) Someone did something awful to some autistic person.
I hate this one, but it's the one people read.
8) Some autistic person did something awful.
I hate this one, too.
What do we learn about ourselves from these stories?
That people view us as a problem.
That they think we are less than they are.
We know that.
Now we start teaching them that we are more than they think we are.
Now we start building structures to build each other up, because the tearing down is done.
The story they tell about us isn't good enough.
So we tell a better one.
April 4, 2013
I want to write a little bit about The New Normal, before the season finale tomorrow night. As is always the case for me with producer Ryan Murphy’s work, I love some things about the series and hate others. I love seeing a gay couple at the heart of a television show, but I wish they did not remind me so much of other couples in previous Murphy series, mostly the doctors in Nip/Tuck, who weren’t literally a gay couple (but totally were) and the nasty gay ghosts in last season’s American Horror Story, who were a prescient parody of the sweetsy-poo dads-to-be in The New Normal. And this is silly, but I wish Murphy would break his habit of casting his gay couples with one gay actor, who plays the sort of feminine one, and a more attractive straight actor, who plays the sort of masculine one.
I don’t know who this show is for. It seems to be for children, with its after school special lessons, simplistic plots, and aggressively lovable cast of characters. But then it gets so raunchy (like that reference to that real picture of a real actor’s genitals) that I would not let young kids watch it. I guess its for middle school kids who are super sophisticated in terms of their understanding of sexuality (or unusually clueless about it).
And the Sue Sylvester, nasty older blonde lady is so played out. I like Ellen Barkin, but it would be the best thing for her and the show if she were not on it next year.
I have appreciated some of the messages the show has sent, especially when it included disabled people and their kids in a montage about everyone’s right to have a family and find love.
Last week’s episode caught me by surprise by illuminating one aspect of the difficulty some people might have with autistic adults as role models.
Since I decided to go with the incendiary headline, let's get a few things out of the way first.
1) I am not one of those atheists who believes that everyone who is not an atheist is stupid or bigoted. I believe in religious freedom, not universal atheism. I like and respect religious people. I believe that religions do both good and bad things. I don't think all religions are equal but I try to treat them all with equal respect since I don't share any of them.
2) Lots of autistic people are atheists, but lots are also religious. There is some research indicating that we might be less disposed toward belief than others. I am skeptical of this research-- I think maybe the way autism has been defined by some scientists (extreme male brain) may skew it. I know many intensely, and beautifully, religious autistic people.
3) My autism does not prevent my from being able to believe. I have been a Christian. I have been a Buddhist. I have benefited from being part of both of those traditions. I'm not an atheist because the faithy part of my brain is missing or damaged. I have the capacity for belief, and I believe that the vast majority of other autistic people do, too.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan talked to ABC's George Stephanopoulos for Easter. Early this morning, I read what Dolan said about gay people feeling unwelcome in the Catholic church:
“Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.’ But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally,” Dolan said. “We got to be – we got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not an anti-anybody.”
And I thought, I want to see him say that. So I watched when the interview was on this morning.
This morning, a friend sent me the new Autism Speaks Employment Toolkit.
It's not awful.
It shows real movement in directions that autistic activists, myself included, have been asking for for years:
It is for adults.
It features autistic people telling their own stories.
It is focused on helping, not preventing, autistic people.
Under the leadership of new president Liz Feld, the largest and richest autism charity has moved away from the most damaging things it used to do.
For example, her statement last week on new research showing an autism prevalence of 1 in 50 was far from the overt scaremongering of the recent past:
The good news is that the survey’s “1 in 50” results suggest that increased autism awareness is helping more children get a diagnosis. However, it also shows that many children are going undiagnosed until age 7 or older – years after a reliable diagnosis is possible. We must change this – we know that early intervention helps our children do better in school and lead happier, healthier lives.
We’re also encouraged to see a number of our political leaders respond to the new findings by affirming that autism is a public health crisis needing a national public health response.
We're still a crisis, but a much less terrifying one.
I'm still not a fan of Autism Speaks.
But I no longer feel that it is a crisis.
Should you give them money or volunteer for them?
No, please don't.
Should you keep yelling at your friends and neighbors who do?
No, please don't.
There's a flash blog happening today in response to a recent video that Autism Speaks has put out called "I Want to Say."