Thursday 7 April 2016

Ouch. Nothing about us without us?

Nothing about us without us.

This is central to all equality work.

We don't ask men to be the sole speakers about women's rights.
We don't ask white people to be the sole speakers about Black and Minority Ethnic equality.
We don't ask straight people to represent LGBT people without the LGBT people being present.

In every situation, we get equality by listening to lived experience.

If you are a non-autistic parent of an autistic child, you can talk about parenting, yes.  Respectfully.  With the consent of the child in your life, or in ways that respect their privacy and personhood.

You cannot advocate for autistic people generally on your own, though.  No, really, you can't.  Not on your own you can't.  It just looks like a big dose of Privilege, and a big dose of 'having all the limelight'.  It devalues and replaces our voices with what is often an inauthentic piece of guesswork or parroting, when people push us out of the way and talk for us, without permission.

If you are going to talk about us, you make very sure indeed that you are using respectful language.

You make very sure indeed that you link to respectful places, and not ones that routinely abuse autistic people.

You make very sure indeed that you do not retweet tweets that link to those abusive places and practices.

You work with us on the speech.  You get us involved with the speech.  You want to speak with us, not 'instead of us'.  You don't use your Privilege to muscle in and shove us out of the way.  Or not even have the courtesy to talk with us.  After all, if you are in a privileged position, you are never going to have to prove your worth.  People like me can spend a decade trying to be heard. I spent a en years non verbal. I sometimes still am. Communicating comes as such a price.  Privileged people can stroll in and be taken seriously instantly, even if they are talking rubbish. Some do. Some are fine of course. But... That's what 'privilege' offers.  And it is the opposite of autism equality.

Suppose someone said to you, "I went to my doctors and discovered that my child is gay.  I cried. It was relief as much as anything else.  Now I know that my child has Gayness.  It explains why they were so poofy.  We ought to make sure that being a Person with Gayness is not seen as a deficit any more.  Here, have a link to Britain First on my social media feed".  We can now take in a breath of would be appalling, wouldn't it.

How good should a gay person feel, reading that?   Is that 'awareness raising' of the humanity and equality of us gay people? 

I've actually had people tell me that I should be grateful to be sidelined, and other more privileged voices decide what to say about me and my community.  After all, it's 'awareness raising'.  By properly beautiful people with lovely voices.  Yes, awareness of how to make us feel worse.  Awareness raising that we are not even fit to speak for our own cause, because we're not media-attractive enough. Awareness that it's ok to shout as us, mock us, take offence at us trying to find our voice. That is so appalling.

Don't be that person who sidelines us whilst claiming to be on our side.

Thank you for listening.