Before I knew I was autistic, I was hanging around online when an Autism Expert ™ (most likely a relative) showed up to tell us to refer to autistics as a person with autism, not autistic an person. Or else we would reduce said person to their autism only. You know how it goes. It sounded reasonable to me as they presented it. Therefore, I’m really thankful that actually autistic people showed up and informed us that they preferred identity language first, and why. What if no one had challenged that person? Do these so called experts show up everywhere telling others to separate disabled people from our disabilities? The answer to me, seems to be yes. I’ve seen them pop up in places you least expect them to. I find it really strange.
For me, one of the hardest things in this world seems to be to get people to understand me. To understand me, they first need to see me. That is, see all of me. White people refuse to acknowledge that I am racialised. ‘I don’t see colour‘, they say.
”There’s only one human race. The only reason racism still exists is because people like you split us up in groups. You seem to think that there’s races, I’m just giving you a head’s up, but that’s kinda racist don’t you think?”
All said to me by white people. The last quote was actually from a guy who mods a racist white supremacy group on Facebook.
Time and time again I’ve told people that it’s okay. I am brown. I’m not like you, I’m not white. I will never be like you. I don’t even want to be like you. But all it does is apparently exposing me as an evil reverse racist. And honestly. I’ll be damned before they separate me from my autism too. I’m autistic. I’ve always been autistic. There has never been a me before autism. All parts of me are autistic as hell and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I know that there’s a lot of people out there, even in the autistic community that want to
move away from labels. Some might just not identify strongly enough with the label. Others might be scared. Of being dismissed, reduced. But I believe that you can only be reduced to a label if it’s something that you feel reduces you. Which can happen, especially if it is a label with negative connotation not chosen by oneself. In my case? My autism doesn’t reduce me at all. My brown skin doesn’t reduce me at all. Ignoring these these parts of me do, because they make me myself. My autism and brown skin affects how I see the world and how the world sees and treats me. Neither my race or my autism are invisible to the world, I promise. They affect everything. Pretending that they do not matter means erasing the reality I am experiencing and that is dangerous to me. Until you see all of me, you do not accept or respect me at all. And if you don’t? Well, then I am likely to lose any interest in you.
Before I found out I was autistic, I wasn’t able to see myself clearly. I already knew myself like no other could, but I didn’t understand myself the way I do now. I didn’t have a community where I actually belonged. These things mean a lot to me, and because of them I am in a better place now. And it’s all because I learnt that I am autistic. Therefore, this label means a lot to me. I never want to be separated from it ever again.