Monday, October 31, 2011

Autistics Speaking Day: For the People Who Speak With Me

This is sort of about allies, but not exactly.

This Autistics Speaking Day, I want to give a shout-out to the people who stand with me while I speak. The word ally works, ish, but that's not their primary role in my world.

They're my friends.

A lot of allies have that ally mentality, where they have chosen a just cause to do right in the world. And good for them-we need people who see the concept and are like "yeah, I'm all for that concept!" and spread the meme. People who speak truth to power in a general sense are a good thing.

But that's not the same thing.

A friend, at least a friend of mine, they have a choice. They'll have to probably make it pretty early in knowing me, because there's a lot of anti autistic and other ableist bigotry that I see every day, & I point it out (and this is why I am always SO. DAMN. TIRED). I see it, I call it, and then they have a choice:

They can minimize, justify, otherwise derail.

Or they can choose to be a decent human being.

As soon as someone starts saying "it isn't that bad" or "you're too sensitive", they have chosen to not be my friend. The ones who choose to be my friend, they consider things and come to a conclusion that ableism or anti autistic bigotry or strobing a light in my face or whatever isn't ok.

And they stand with me. Not like in the abstract "making things uncomfortable for disabled people isn't ok" way (and seriously, keep doing that), but in a bigger way.

In a "that is wrong and unacceptable and don't ever do it again and fuck you straight to hell for doing that shit to my friend" kind of way.

People can be attached to an idea. People are downright fierce about their attachments to people.

And for friends-at least the kind of friends I have-it is personal. Doing something bigoted isn't throwing some vague oppressive vibe into the air; doing something bigoted is directly hurting a real person with real characteristics besides being disabled. You aren't just shitting on "the disabled" when you do that, you aren't just excluding some vague potential people when you don't make things accessible-you are engaging in behavior that makes someone, a real someone, actually in someone's monkeysphere, uncomfortable or unsafe.

It's not really a 'thing' to speak for or on behalf of one's friends, so people doing stuff like leaving a persistently ableist pizza place for good isn't doing a deed for the disabled-it's "FUCK YOU! STOP HURTING MY FRIEND". There's a difference. If someone talks to an ally about how to, say, make people like me understand that they are just concerned about my safety in a rock climbing class, the instinctual response isn't necessarily going to be a condescending "she's right there. Tell her". It's just a different mindset.

So yeah. You want to be a fucking amazing ally? Don't become my ally. Don't work on behalf of me and my community. Become my friend and channel your inner fierce loyalty. It does way more good in my day to day life.

Besides, I am freaking awesome.

(oh, and my friends are pretty ok too).

1 comment:

autistwriter said...

Besides, I am freaking awesome.

Damn right you are!

Happy Speaking Day from one autie to a great one!