Saturday, July 7, 2012

What Autistic Looks Like (Raising Rebel Souls)

A few days ago, the celebrity and rapper 50 Cent, make a very bold move against the Autism community. He used the word "Autistic," as an insult on Twitter, which was broadcast out to his nearly 7 million followers. He stood proud in his bigoted perspective, and continued with several other deeply offensive tweets. The full display of his discriminatory words can be viewed below, with a screen shot provided by ThAutcast:

Click on the picture to see it on ThAutcast.

50 Cent later removed the tweets, after getting some backlash from many in the community, and after Holly Robinson Peete wrote a letter directly to him, with her heartfelt and clear response; "We are not about to let you attempt to make “autistic” the new “R-word” under our watch."

Upon hearing this news, I must admit, I was crushed. I felt once again, broken hearted from the ways of the world. Like Holly, I immediately looked at the long term consequences of this kind of reckless use of language. I worried that the word Autistic would fall in line with the way some people use the r-word, a synonym for all things insulting, and highly disrespectful. This at a time where self-advocates and parents alike are trying so hard to destigmatize the term Autistic, to destigmatize the Autistic individual, to destigmatize families with Autistic children, to choose Autistic as the name of our unity. This at a time, where I work to destigmatize the word in my own mind, in my own family, in my own house. This at a time where my fears and shame are turning into pride, for my Autistic family. And he put our work into great jeopardy.

He joined the other side of discrimination.
He became our oppressor.

Now, I have made some very ignorant comments in my life, and I am sure in our Autism journey. I have felt great guilt upon discovering them because it is never my intention to hurt a living Soul. I have apologized. I have tried my best to be humble and learn. I understand ignorance, believe me, I fight my own every damn day. What I don't understand is how a man can be confronted with his ignorance, which he spread like wildfire to his millions of followers, and then cowardly step back, instead of stepping forward to apologize. I don't know what "look," 50 Cent was referring to, but he sure does look deliberately prejudice right now.

Step up, 50 Cent, and stop your words from creating the next generation of angry youth.

And I can show you what Autistic looks like, in our family, but there is a larger picture I can also paint.

Autistics look a lot like the way African Americans have looked, for centuries, in their dynamic history.

Autistics look deeply misunderstood.
Autistics look wrongfully repressed.
Autistics look like a fight to be free.
Autistics look human.

And my Autistic sons are beautiful. They are brilliant and they are disabled, and they have every right to be who they are, with out shame, and with out their kind of humanity being degraded.

This post was originally published at Raising Rebel Souls, and is reposted with permission.


  1. VERY well put!! I love the last little part of this. Well done. :

  2. I am so glad you were able to write about the similarities between discrimination against Autism and discrimination against people of different ethnic background. I wanted to, but in my anger just could not do it politely. Thanks!

  3. Well said, looking at the big picture, this kind of discrimination is a huge backwards step for all autism advocates.