There is a magical talisman.
See – this talisman says that if “such-and-such” member of a minority supports “such-and-such” campaign, viewpoint, person, organization that says things that could be (and often is) found offensive by other members of that minority – then it’s all okay – because it’s been approved.
There’s a “minority approval” sticker which means that if you just get maybe a couple of famous people and a handful of others who are members of this minority to agree with offensive thing – it’s magically not offensive.
At least – so is the apparent belief.
Dealing with not offending people is hard – I do understand that – you can’t speak for getting it wrong. You have to ALWAYS ask first, be ready with sincere apology, not allow yourself to think your intent makes it “okay”, and if you can’t ask first you have to go with the largest consensus you know of on the topic (But ready with that apology). It can also be really hard because there are lots of members of minorities who are exceptionally tired of being “ambassadors for all [insert the minority they’re part of]”.
But one of the things you really need to pay attention to is:
Where is the consensus coming from?
Today is November 1st – it is the 4th Annual Autistics Speaking Day.
It is also the 4th Annual “Communication Shutdown” Day.
The Autistics Speaking Day was sparked by autistics who were arguing against the stereotype put forth by Communication Shutdown that communication difficulties with autistics is all the fault of or entirely upon the shoulders of those who are autistics and that not communicating on Facebook or Twitter is somehow comparable.
The “Communication Shutdown” was sparked by a bunch of charities for autism and it’s part of their “awareness” efforts (its interesting how there are so many charities for autism that want to raise awareness and so few wanting to raise acceptance [also notable how many of those that want to raise acceptance were started by or have autistics on their boards – and how few of the ones that want to raise awareness do])). Basically you get to pay money for an app that will put a picture on your Facebook or Twitter that lets you tell people you’re taking part (regardless of if you interact on those media sites or otherwise anyway).
It’s solely for fundraising basically. Fundraising for a group of charities “for autism” but probably not for autistics. It’s one of those token things like the ALS ice bucket challenge – to give able-bodied, non-disabled people the idea that they’re SOMEHOW seeing what it’s like to live with such-and-such disability without actually living that disability and on the basis of only one possible difficulty in relation to that disability and not the thousands of others that are involved or are knocked over like a domino topple by this issue so that it spills into more areas of your life.
It’s rarely EVER one thing.
Person stuck in a wheelchair? Put ramps everywhere for their wheelchairs.
Fixed the problem? Nope.
Because you’ve got to have sufficiently dropped curbs, the door sizes need to be of a reasonable height, can they reach light switches or other things that are necessities for them to reach? Is there a reasonable exit? Is the meeting on the ground floor? Is there a lift? What if there’s a fire and you’re not supposed to use the lift? What if the fire truck can’t get there in time to take them down a ladder out of the building?
Is the reason their in a wheelchair JUST their legs? What if their arms are effected? Neck? Do they have intellectual disabilities? Muscle/bone weakness?
I’m not saying it can’t be one thing – but even if it IS – there is no one small catch-all solution – there are still a thousand of other things that it effects.
My autism does affect how I effectively communicate. People’s allistic and neurotypical experience of the world effects how well they can get what I’m saying. But that’s not all that’s happening – and just “fixing” my communication problems are NOT going to solve my problems.
I hear that Temple Grandin “supports ‘Communication Shutdown'” and I can’t help but sigh in an exaggerated way.
Yeah – I’ve seen autistics who support that kind of thing. Ones that insist that they’re not disabled (Good for you! I am disabled so please stop telling everyone that ‘autistics aren’t disabled’ – because I NEED HELP YOU DON’T). I’ve seen ones that support ABA and horrible attitudes/parenting decisions. Ones that tell parents who film their children’s meltdowns that they’re “sorry for what they’re going through” and that the parents are “so brave”.
I’ve seen ones that ask really offensive and ableist questions.
And the fact that they’re walking around identifying as autistic and some of them even with diagnosis to prove it – doesn’t mean that their approval of offensive things doesn’t make them no longer offensive.
Sometimes it means they’ve internalized ableism.
Which makes me sad.
Because maybe we have something in common.
But you’re not speaking with me.
You’re speaking against me.
Which is depressing as I have nothing against you and I don’t in anyway want to make your life worse – but I would like to make my life better, and the lives of all other autistics that I can help in anyway.
But sometimes – that’s just how it plays out.
But just because someone in a minority approves. Doesn’t mean you have the approval and support of all the minority – and if more of us speak out against you – then what we’re saying – should be listened to.