What is “White Privilege?” I Don’t Get It! A White Autistic Girl’s View of #Blacklivesmatter

This is my response to T.K.’s post on recent events. (Despite already making one, I just felt I should tell my viewpoint on racism too so don’t PC me)!

Amongst the protests of #blacklivesmatter there’s a lot of lectures on social media to white people about being so called “privileged” or to “check your privilege.” I was confused for at least a week. I had no idea what they were talking about except that for that one instance, when a bunch of people at the CVS I go to after work for an occasional snack sometimes decided yell it at me one day just because I was called up from the back of the line when the other register opened up. Really? What does that prove? How does yelling “white privilege” solve the issue? It doesn’t. It caused me to retaliate saying that I wish I had more because as a disabled person, I had barely any privilege at all due to the lack of protection from ADA. I found it very offensive!

However, this phrase has been turning up a lot lately because of the protests. This is supposedly the definition. “White privilege” as it is defined, is having a “societal advantage” due to your race being the “majority” or “the norm.” So, you’re telling me, that if I’m a white Jewish girl who moves to let’s say, India and because I’m not like them, because they’re the majority and I’m the minority they’re privileged and I’m not because of their cultural beliefs being the most dominant? Doesn’t that seem a little ridiculous? But this is the white person’s definition. Minorities have a different definition which is “All the times you didn’t get arrested for stupid things just because your skin tone is different.” I know, it sounds rude, but I saw a lot of social media posts like that all over Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Most people don’t realize that there is no such thing as “White Privilege”  and it’s just as racist as everything else said at other people. But that’s just my opinion.

-Artemislevina


What Is There Left to Say?

As a black autistic who runs a blog centered around current events and their effect on marginalized groups like Neurodivergents, I feel obligated to comment on the extrajudicial execution of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department and the subsequent global demonstrations. But what’s there to say? That many police departments in this country operate like the Tonton Macoute? We already know that. (Though many won’t admit it). Riots causing wanton destruction are bad? No kidding! Pretty much everyone to the left of Mussolini, autistics included, have made statements like these.

So as an alternative, I want to talk about the wider picture. Neurotypicals and Neurodivergeants alike often miss the forest for the trees when discussing disabled people. What influences do race, gender, sexuality, and nationality have on our experiences as NDs? How about socio-economic status? Bluntly Speaking posts focus on these topics because I see many Neurodivergents and those adjacent to us, shying away. The buck passing has only intensified in light of recent events. Public discourse has simplified, with Americans retreating to their respective identity corners. Woke yuppies are prostrating themselves at our feets. Many blacks, and black autistics are pretending that the crushing systemic oppression we face is caused solely by unabashed racism. The bootlickers, (who unfortunately make up a significant percentage of both autistics and the country as a whole), are watching Tucker Carlson’s White Power Hour everynight with hard-ons, as they practice their goose step.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve witnessed autistics of color berate white autistics for not recognizing their privilege and screaming “Black Lives Matter!” loud enough. Some white autistics are complaining because police violence against disabled people is largely ignored by the mainstream media. Meanwhile, a few conservative Aspies announced they would’ve gladly shoved that seventy-five-year-old man onto the ground if they were in Buffalo PD’s shoes.

The death of George Floyd, a case of police brutality so shocking, it even left the MAGA crowd reeling, has drawn the world’s attention to many of our country’s ills. But instead of banding together in order to force real change in America’s fascist law enforcement apparatus, sub-sects of neurodivergent groups have rushed through the breach, grabbed as much victimhood as possible, then bolted, like the Covid toilet paper hoarders.

NTs are doing the same, but I’ve written at length about how Neurotypical culture (for lack of a better word), is self-centered and reactionary by nature. The one thing NDs should never do is follow the mainstream’s lead. We Neurodivergents must pull ourselves together, otherwise nothing will improve for us or anyone else.

-T.K. Aspy

Why?

While everyone is talking about the riots and violent protests that have happened this week because of police brutality to Mr. Floyd I want to bring up something that happened in our community that most Ables who aren’t on social media ignored and overlooked as usual. Last month an Autistic boy was killed by his mother and framed two African American men for kidnapping him. How come there aren’t any violent riots in the streets when this happened? It was combination of abuse, Racism, and Ableism. Yet, this story as usual ends up being a flash in the pan because it’s not an issue of judgment due to race. We ALL matter because disability doesn’t discriminate. Discrimination and bigotry of any form is NEVER right and yet we see the Ables AKA  the Neurotypicals make the same stupid mistakes. So much for having fully developed mind what a fucking joke! They act like stupid children having a temper tantrum! There’s a time, place, and way to protest. DAMAGING PUBLIC OR POLICE PROPERTY ISN’T ONE OF THEM AND LOOTING BUSINESSES ISN’T EITHER. IT DOESN’T SOLVE ANYTHING! As much as I would like to blow up OPWDimwits I know it won’t help because instead of getting my point across I’d get arrested and not get anything accomplished at all. It doesn’t solve my problems it makes them worse. So if I’m gonna protest I’m gonna do it the right way. #Everyonematters #Pleaseprotestpeacefully

Autism and Masculinity

There seems to be a consensus within the Autism Community that autism exists in a vacuum. On blogs and forums, topics relating to autism are often discussed without regard for wider societal context. For example: the education system–and how it fails many autistics–is usually pointed to as proof of discrimination and apathy on the part of NTs towards NDs. But, as we all know, the American education system is in such terrible shape our Oreos come in Tide Pod flavor. If a school can’t properly serve the needs of neurotypical children, how the hell are they going to support neurodivergents? Subjects like education, economics, and politics are so intertwined with the autistic experience that they cannot be separated from the disorder itself.

I say all this to bury the lead though.

I didn’t want to center a second Bluntly Speaking post on the Stay-at-Home protesters. Unfortunately, El douche is now encouraging Taliban cosplaying pseudo-fascists to storm state legislatures. Watching armed nutjobs intimidating lawmakers is terrifying, but some good can come of it. These people represent a human case study in white supremacy, masculinity, and gun safety.

For right now, I’m focusing on masculinity. Autistic men perceive and handle masculinity differently than most NT men. (Autistic females perceive and handle femininity differently than most NT women, but I’ll let Artemislevina talk about that if she wants). Most men in this country are indoctrinated from a young age. We’re told to be aggressive. We’re told to be leaders, even if leadership doesn’t come naturally. We’re told not to cry if we’re in pain, physical or emotional. And most importantly, we’re told that if we don’t live up to these standards, we will be ostracized by women and tormented by other men. Fortunately, churning out generation after generation of entitled, overly aggressive, and emotionally stunted men hasn’t had any toxic repercussions whatsoever…

As boys, we were expected to accept this “wisdom” as gospel. But I didn’t. And many autistic men I know didn’t either. The reason many neurodivergents reject some traditional gender roles is because we either don’t fully understand them, aren’t interested in them, or both.

Putting all my cards on the table, I think gender roles are, for the most part, archaic and should be done away with. The neurotypical insistence on adhering to gender roles is silly at best, and harmful at worst. (According to conservatives on social media, these views make me an SJW cuck who panders to radical feminists in the hopes that they will have sex with me. Evidently, this must be a long-term strategy because it’s been twenty-eight years and I’m still waiting for that gratitude lay).

On a previous post, I talked about masking, a series of learned behaviors neurodivergents perform in order to gain acceptance from mainstream society. For me, and many autistic males, being sufficiently masculine is a key part of masking. Whenever I meet up with NT friends, one of the first questions they inevitably ask me is, “Are you working?” Neurotypicals asks this of each other as well, except it morphs into “Where are you working?” It’s assumed that men work. My autism is the reason I’m asked if.

Over the past year and a half, my answer to that question has been no. I’m a part-time writer and full-time caretaker of a disabled relative. In the twenty-first century though, caretaking and writing aren’t seen as masculine duties. So, despite my dislike of gender roles, my friends’ question is discomforting because it unmasks me. The unmasking occurs in two ways. One the one hand, my lack of suitable testosterone pulsing employment marks me as different. On the other, atypical jobs like caretaking and writing tend not to pay well. Often, as a result, things happen to me, rather than me happening to things. In other words, I’m forced to take a more passive, less controlled approach to life.

The illusion of control is an important pillar in our modern day conception of masculinity. A few months ago, my aunt brought me a membership at a local gym. As she and the head trainer haggled over prices, I slinked into the corner and sulked over the fact that, as a grown man, I couldn’t afford to purchase my own membership. In that instance, control of a small part of my life was ceded to my aunt. That’s why, to a certain extent, I empathize with the protesters. A lot of them are men who lost their jobs due to the shutdown. Being unemployed strips a measure of control from them. Having the shutdown dictated to them via government decree, rubs salt into the wound.

If someone like me, who processes pretty radical views of gender, can feel self-conscious over a slightly emasculating incident, how do you think conservative NT men feel about losing their financial independence? The average neurotypical man bases a large part of their identity on their masculinity. Erode it, and it’s like kicking a leg out from an already wobbly table.

Now, times that by tens of millions.

In a way ND men have more control over our lives than our NT counterparts. Societal pressures tend to ring more acutely in their ears than in ours. My aunt often reminds me that eventually, I will have to get a “real job” and won’t have time to worry about my “magical kingdom,” (a reference to the sci-fi/fantasy book series I’m currently writing). While I don’t appreciate her downplaying my writing, something I treat with the time and effort of a second job, I’m used to people frowning on my life choices. Sadly, many neurotypical men sacrifice their dreams in order to satisfy the breadwinner complex hoisted upon them. We’re not oblivious to these pressures, but the voice that told us as kids to be aggressive, to lead, to never cry, is just one of a cacophony. In the end, all the voices spew the same dichotomic message.

Be yourself, unless “yourself” deviates too far from the norm. In that case, be like everyone else!

 

The Stay-at-Home Protests

My dad owned a bunch of books about Autism. They were hardcover, densely worded, and authored by academics who had a whole can of alphabet soup after their names. When I was a kid, he would periodically sit me down, open one of those books, and start listing off all the character traits that supposedly made me abnormal.

  • I had a strictly black-and-white view of the world.
  • I lacked empathy; I was probably a sociopath.
  • I was rigid in my thoughts and ideas, not accepting different viewpoints.
  • I didn’t deal well with change of any sort.

While that may sound a bit fucked up, his views of autistics were, and still are, mainstream. We’re held to an unwritten series of societal rules and expectations. Whether we’re deemed “high-functioning” or not, is determined by how well we live up to those expectations. We all fail this test in some way or another, and when we do, one or more of the above traits are cited as the culprit. Yet, when neurotypicals don’t meet these standards, excuses of all sorts are made.

A few days ago, as I watched the world burn on its axis, I realized that I’d made a mistake while writing my last post. I said that the current Corona Virus pandemic was forcing neurotypicals to experience the everyday emotional states of many neurodivergents. I had it backwards. They’re not living our emotions; we’re living theirs. And we always have been. The character traits my dad was fond of ticking off, weren’t barriers separating me from living a “normal” life. Rather, they were (at least in part) psychological projections of behaviors society views as distasteful. In a way, autistics are golems, constructed from the clay of neurotypical ignorance, and brought to life by the dogma of dispassionate psychology books.

That’s not to say mental, emotional, and developmental disorders aren’t real or that they don’t have diagnostic criterias. What I am saying is that everyday, I see neurotypicals acting in the same nonsensical ways they accuse us of acting in.

A perfect example of this are the Stay-at-Home protesters. While they make up a small minority of Americans, in a way, they are really the majority. When people talk about the “Average American” they’re usually referring to a white, middle-aged male, hailing from a small town somewhere in fly-over country, who’s blue collar, and politically conservative. Most of the protesters fit this description. And while they demonstrate against government overreach, holding on tightly to their cocks…I mean phallic symbols…I mean rifles, they’re simultaneously demonstrating the same traits, we are told make us dysfunctional.

 

A Dualistic World View

When the protesters weren’t busy poorly handling their military grade firearms, they held signs that read thing like:

TRUMP/PENCE 2020: KEEP AMERICA GREAT!

And:

Michigans

Against

Gretchen

Abuses

With the exception of Texas, all of these protests happened in states led by Democratic governors. (The M.A.G.A. sign referred to Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan). However, there were over a dozen Stay-At-Home orders issued by Republican governors, and a mountain of evidence clearly showing that both political parties failed to prepare our country for the pandemic they knew was coming. This is a clear case of dualistic thinking. Team Red Good, Team Blue bad!

Lack of Empathy/Sociopathic Tendencies

In several states, including Michigan and Colorado, the protesters blocked traffic, making it difficult for ambulances to deliver patients to the hospital. If blocking the route to a hospital during a plague isn’t sociopathic, I don’t know what is.

Rigid Thinking

When interviewed, many of the protesters expressed frustration at the mainstream media for portraying COVID-19 as incredibly deadly, and for claiming that the Stay-at-Home orders were necessary if we didn’t want to dig a mass grave in Central Park. The media’s narrative clashed with their own, rigidly held views that COVID was similar to the flu, and/or was created by our government in a North Carolina lab and intentionally released so they could get rich off selling the non-existent vaccine. No amount of convincing could shake them of these beliefs.

Struggles Adapting to Change

Conservatives, as their name states, seek to conserve the status quo. The entire country shutting down due to COVID has been a shocking disruption to the status quo. Everyone’s struggling. A lot of people are out of work. Some workers are essential, and are forced to work ridiculous hours without hazard pay, exposing themselves to the virus. While few are happy with these changes to daily life, many conservatives are overwhelmed by it. They’re suffering from a sort of sensory overload, in which they dispute facts, scream conspiracy theories over social media 24/7, and constantly seek pity. This anxiety is encapsulated in the protesters, who are so averse to change, they’ll block ambulances, endanger public health, and stump for an orange lunatic who is partially responsible for this pandemic in the first place. All of that, so they can return to their normal routines of getting haircuts, eating at restaurants, and watching sports.

***

We’d like to believe that these protesters are societal outliers, but they’re not. Since they detest political correctness, they are not bound by it, and can therefore speak their minds. These people are just you and me with the filter off. Rigidity, sociopathy, and single-mindedness are all normal human traits whether anyone wants to admit it or not. That’s why in the autism community, we use terms like neurodivergent. It differentiates us from this unfortunate norm. At the end of the day, we’re just mirrors.

It’s not our fault you don’t like what you see.

My View of the COVID

Tk talked about this already tough time but it’s worse for all of us in the disabled community the fact that we are not treated equally by the healthcare system regardless of whether we are in crisis or not is extremely concerning. It is unethical and wrong to take a disabled person’s ventilator away to give it away to an ill Neurotypical affecting a person’s quality of life leading to even more hospitalizations and deaths. It is inhumane whether it is peacetime or in a time of crisis to deny help of any sort to people with disabilities. #Nobodyisdisposable

The Bright Side of Life

A lot of people in the autism community are worried about COVID-19, for good reasons. Daily routines, vital for our overall functionality, have been disrupted. Unemployment is through the roof, and many autistics have concurrent physical disorders that render them immunocompromised and therefore, more vulnerable to the disease. Even if you’re not on the Spectrum, you might still feel like the sky is falling. You might be worried about finances or people you love contracting it. Maybe you’re keyed up after watching Rachel Maddow catastrophize every weeknight for the past month, or maybe, you’re livid from listening to Sean Hanity pretend that everything is fine while wiping the brown off his nose. Maybe you’re an artist who’s struggling to find their muse through a thick haze of holy-shit-there’s-a-deranged-orange-man-on-tv-and-we’re-all-going-to-die!

For my part, I was forced to flee my apartment in New York, now the epicenter of the pandemic, for the relative safety of Jersey City. I’m currently living with my aunt and uncle who are both immunocompromised and over 65 years old. To top it off, all gyms, libraries, books stores, and strip clubs have been shut down, making my therapeutic options limited.

I’m not freaking out though, because like Bruce Banner in Avengers, my secret is that I’m always worried. I’m constantly one missed wake-up alarm, one broken appliance I can’t afford to replace, one bout of writer’s block away from emotional collapse. I walk a tightrope strung high above the Grand Canyon, desperately balancing between mania and soul crushing depression.

I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but when I look at what’s going on in the world right now, all I can think about is the Monty Python song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. In particular, the lines “forget about your sin/give the audience a grin,” struck a chord with me. Many autistics, including me, need to perform social courtesies, such as not running away in bestial terror when you see a butterfly, remembering to respond to your significant other’s text within 72 hours, and candidly laughing when your NT friend is lightheartedly roasting the shit out of you. Combined, these learned behaviors are called masking. Basically, it’s our attempt to blend in so society doesn’t break out the pitchforks. Masking represents us giving the audience a grin, and as you might imagine, it’s draining. The good news for aspies, is that since the world is evidently coming to an end, social courtesies have been thrown out the window. I don’t need to fake normalcy, because there is no normalcy right now. The other day, I had a coughing fit in Target and people ran from me like I had become Death: the Destroyer of Worlds.

I hate to admit it, but I feel validated seeing people collectively reach the same level of anxiety I experience on a daily basis and not handle it well. Despite all my fears, I’ve never panic brought enough water to drown an elephant. I’ve never gotten into a fist fight over a pack of toilet paper. I’ve never abandoned a pet for fear of catching a virus from them. The past month has been the ultimate confirmation that while heavily bent, I remain unbroken.

 

“Nothing Will Fundamentally Change”

It’s primary season right now, as multiple democratic candidates fight for the luxury of getting steamrolled by Fuhrer Trump. Super Tuesday was a few nights ago and the results were depressing. America has spoken. They apparently want a demented old man who’s been in politics longer than I’ve been alive. They want someone who, last year, promised a group of billionaire donors that “Nothing would fundamentally change,” if he was elected. If Joe Biden doesn’t represent change, and our current president is so intellectually bankrupt that he believes vaccines cause autism, where does that leave us Aspies? Out in the cold, that’s where. To be clear, this isn’t a pro-Bernie post. This is just a spot where autism and politics converge.

Ninety-four percent of jobs created since 2005 are either temp, gig, or contract, meaning that if you’re a younger person, job security is more a fantasy than reality. This uncertainty is one of the reasons a Democratic Socialist like Bernie Sanders is so popular, despite him looking like a cross between the crazy doctor from Back to the Future and the “Beware the groove” guy from The Emperor’s New Groove.

***

It’s my opinion that we currently have a “sales” economy. I call it that, because like in the fields of sales and marketing, our economy is geared towards individuals who are charismatic, on their feet thinkers, who have a high stress threshold. These are all traits successful sales people generally have. They are also traits that autistics generally don’t.

Picture yourself hunched over your computer, filling out job applications until your eyes go blurry and your hands cramp. Picture repeating this every single day for months, maybe years. Picture finally receiving an interview request. You show up in a pair of ill fitting slacks, shoes that hurt your feet, and a scratchy button-down shirt with a tie that’s slowly strangling you. You meet the interviewer, shake his hand, sit down. Suddenly, he’s firing questions at you, like an interrogator.

“What do you know about this company?”

“What would you say your greatest strength is?”

“Why did you leave your last job?”

“What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome and how would that apply to this job?”

And finally, “What relevant previous experience do you have?”

You stumble through this inquisitive cannonade like a fat kid through an obstacle course, and by the time the interviewer gets to their last question, you’re exhausted. You’re also totally screwed because you don’t have any relevant experience. You tell the interviewer this because you’re a terrible liar, and they walk you to the door, explaining that they really wanted someone with experience. You know this is a catch twenty-two. Almost no one around you has “experience.” You need a job to get experience, but you can’t get a job because you have no experience, but you need a job to get experience…

On the subway ride home, while you listen to a deranged vagabond is scream gibberish, you think about the interview. You think about a guy you know who recently landed a job with no relevant experience because he fabricated his resume. He told you to do the same, but you didn’t, because you know that, unlike him, you don’t possess the charisma to back up a fake resume.

***

A few years ago, I worked for a city-wide after school program that catered mostly to underprivileged children. We made minimum wage and our hours were limited. Occasionally, there’d be a special event of some sort and our boss would go around asking if we wanted to work a few extra hours. Whenever they asked me, I froze up. I wanted to say yes, but I needed a few seconds to remember if I had any prior commitments. Inevitably, during my delay, someone always rose up from the shadows, or crawled down from the ceiling, or instantly transmitted onto the scene and agreed to whatever hours they were offering before I could. Eventually, they stopped offering me extra hours. Eventually, they passed me up for promotion. Eventually, they reduced my hours and my responsibilities to such an extent, that I got the message and resigned.

I struggled to think on my feet and that was seen by the higher ups as a lack of commitment.

***

My friend once worked for a boss that expected his employees to work eighteen-hour-long shifts with a smile on their faces. My friend’s job responsibilities included (but were not limited to) being a porter, a short-order cook, a busboy, a janitor, a garbage man, a painter, and a cashier. He also was expected to help set up for special events, check coats in, run front door security, and bartend. Sometimes, he was expected to perform all of these tasks at the same time. My friend kept up with his overwhelming workload the best he could. Often though, he fell behind and found himself being lectured by his superiors. Once, his supervisor pulled him aside and forced him to listen to Martin Luther King’s famous speech, The Street Sweeper, in order to “motivate” him to work harder. The supervisor then stopped the video before MLK said, “[the capitalists] use everybody as mere tools…they just love people that they can use.” But I’m sure that was just a coincidence.

My friend worked hard, but sometimes, he’d just shut down. He didn’t have a high enough threshold to buffer the stress caused by the insane number of tasks demanded of him.

***

The economy, and by extension the job market, is no longer working for average people. For many autistic adults, it’s an outright disaster. Unlike seemingly most Americans, I don’t see our president as some messiah who will solve all of our country’s ills, but when someone who’s vying to be the most powerful man on Earth says “Nothing will fundamentally change,” I find that extremely concerning and disheartening.

 

STUPID BUS!!!!

WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THESE STUPID LONG ISLAND BUSES?!?!?!? I had wait in the Pennzoil for an hour so I don’t get cold. Thanks for making me late to work again not so NICE bus! They obviously don’t believe in late morning shifts and I’m not wasting money for Able ride unless I need to because it’s almost $8.00 round trip. I’m so fucking annoyed!

Breaking News 2/19/20

This is your Bluntly Speaking Breaking news! On Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, I, Artemis Levina and my loyal (but shrewdly bossy and picky) assistant correspondent Mamma Duke went all the way to the streets of Manhattan to get you this crucial update and how this affects the future of the services of Autistics of all levels everywhere in the New York area. The rumors about cuts to Medicaid funds are true. This will affect a lot of people who use title 16 clinics for healthcare. Title 16 clinics, for those uneducated Ables out there, are Medicaid based clinics who serve we disabled folk on Medicaid who can’t afford typical doctor appointments. Also, OPWDimwits has been spending a lot of money for helping people — doesn’t seem like it the way Scudderbutt behaves. They were also talking about how Commissioner lazy himself couldn’t even produce an answer about the funding to these folks trying to advocate for the prevention of these cuts. FIGURES! The way he acted when I asked him about my needs, that’s nothing new. Didn’t even care about the the Bernard Fineson land being condemned either. Well, here’s the deal, they were supposed to get two 2% increases in funding and now it’s going to be taken away affecting many people who need the help. It might not sound like a lot, but 2% is a lot especially when it comes to our community. Now I know why I haven’t been getting help for nine years they’ve been abusing the funds and not using them to create new programs. So yes, we level one Autistics over 21 are still doomed to be denied the right services for yet another year. Hopefully, this new proposition of three for five will help. What this is exactly is a gradual increase in funding for OPWDimwits to finally reorganize themselves and help people better(and hopefully not decide to pretend to be a half-wit on me again because I don’t tolerate being treated like political ploy instead of a person). Then again, what else do we expect from Governor McIdiot? He’s going to continue his corrupt and Ableist behavior because we the disabled community are not well united. If we stop segregating ourselves into our disability groups and help each other out to crowd the steps of Albany and stick to him we won’t get anywhere or get anything out of it.