J. Cole, The Black Community & Autism.

Recently, rapper J. Cole used “autism” as a pejorative in a punchline. I wasn’t particularly offended, but as a man living with Autism I should have been.  As I sat back and browsed twitter I kept coming across tweets, blogs and essays blasting the rapper for his ignorance and calling for him to apolpgize to the Autism community. But no matter how much I tried I couldn’t bring myself to care. Then I got obsessed (as most people on the spectrum do) with trying to figure out why I wasn’t offended and whether or not my lack of concern was a normal response to the situation. I sat and thought and took walk after walk to ponder the situation. The conclusion I came to was that J. Coles use of the word “Autism” is a symptom of a much bigger problem in the black community. That problem is an overall ignorance or unwillingness to acknowledge behavioral disorders and mental illness as legitimate problems that need to be addressed by a team of therapists and professionals. Autism, is largely seen in the black community as a white problem. I’ve come across far too many brothers and sisters that believe children with behavioral disorders are just children that don’t get beaten enough or have parents that just arent strict enough. Not only do black children on the spectrum, for the most part, go undiagnosed they are also forced to live their lives unequipped and unprepared for life outside of their parents houses. One of the biggest problems with this is that people who arent touched personally by Autism have no idea how much people who live with it go through everyday. I can’t expect someone who’s part of a community that refuses to acknowledge these things to understand this.
Luckily, J. Coles response to the outrage wasn’t the usual celebrity non-apology apology, “I’m sorry you were offended”, it was to reach out to the autism community and get educated.  He wrote a beautiful,  well thought out and sincere apology (other celebs engrossed in controversies should take note)
I’m hoping that this latest controversy leads to a broader conversation about children with behavioral disorders in the black community. Further, I hope it leads to more resources and programs for those kids. Far to often they are labeled as bad, lazy and stupid when all they need is a little extra attention. These kids need a voice. Someone young, cool, popular and influential to bring light to what these families go through. They don’t need his money, they just need his voice. Sadly, it often takes someone cool to shine a light on people or situations that go unnoticed. While this situation started out sad and disappointing, in the end I find myself optimistic about thr future.

Thanks, Mr Cole.

It Wasn’t All Bad

Its the end of the year. The end of one of the most difficult periods of my life. This year has been a roller coaster for me. I’ve shifted between periods of near irrational positivity & absolute bleakness. I wasn’t depressed, I just couldnt see a way out of my current situation. I had to face the fact that not only was nearly every decision I ever made the wrong one, but that I was incapable of making the right one. My life has been a constant struggle to fit in. Coming to terms with the fact that I’ll never quite know what its like to fit was hard, but I’m getting there. Therapy helps. 

A majority of the problems I’ve faced this year were financial. Since I’m unable to work at the moment I had no income, I’ve come very close to homelessness a few times this year. There are few things worse than uncertainty to us Aspies. Having to constantly worry about the locks being changed can take its toll on you. 

It hasn’t all been bad though. Even though its been hard, there have been bright spots. I’ve started to notice improvement in myself. Its comforting to know the therapy has been working. I’ve also gotten out a few times and come across some amazing people. People I’ve been fans of and looked up to for years. I went on Sinnamon Love’s radio show to talk about living with Aspergers. As some of you know she was a big part in helping me get diagnosed. No matter what the question was or what time of day or night it was she would take time to talk to me. She was just as sweet in person. Lots of people talk a lot about spreading love and positivity everywhere they go, but few actually mean it. She truly lives by that. She’s a phenomenal woman.

BTW, I got a hug too. A good one. 

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I also got the chance to finally meet my favorite emcee ever. After months of talking via twitter and email, I got to hang out with Brother Ali. He hooked me up with VIP passes to his show back in September. Not only was he amazing in concert, he’s an incredibly nice person. I expected to be given a handshake, be told “thanks for being a fan and buying my shit” before being directed out of the venue. But he embraced me like family. Introduced me to his people as his brother. He even told the people there to check out my blog. It was one of the most amazing nights of my life. I’ve never felt cooler. 

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I also got to talk MMA with rapper/author/producer/MMA fan Blueprint. Brother Ali knew Blueprint was into MMA and told him to check out my blog. After a few months of chatting it up on Twitter we decided to work on a Podcast. Its a slow process but considering he may be the busiest man on earth Im honored that even took time to talk to me lol. He’s one of the coolest, smartest and most down to earth guys I’ve ever spoken to. 

The best part about this year though has been growing closer to the woman I love. Being diagnosed made me realize just how lucky I am to have someone as amazing as her in my life. She’s stuck with me through everything. No matter how hard things get she’s always there with a soft place to lay my head. Her support means the world to me. I’m not sure I would have had the strength to get out of bed without her. Seeing her face gave me a reason to keep going. 

I know its cliche to say that next year will be my year, but I truly believe it will be. For the first time in years I’m looking forward to getting up and accomplishing things. I want to be productive and I want the people that have supported me that their efforts haven’t been in vain. 

Just Be Yourself

 

Since being diagnosed with Aspergers last year one of the things I’ve struggled most with is learning how to accept myself. I’ve tried to talk to people about this struggle, but the only answer I get is “just be yourself, if people don’t accept you its on them”. I agree, but you have to look at this from a Aspies point of view. I don’t have the ability to be anyone else. I believe that being yourself feels good because you have the ability to not be yourself. Accepting who you are is ultimately a choice. Since its been so hard for me to connect with people and maintain relationships, I’ve convinced myself that its because of who I am and if I can somehow change that person, I’ll be able to get the human interaction I so desperately crave sometimes. In other words, I haven’t fully accepted that I’m autistic and I blame myself for my current situation. I still find myself comparing who I am with neurotypicals. I’m working on it, but its hard. I’ve known I was different for my entire life and I’ve spent a great deal of it trying to be like the people around me so I can have what they have. It never works though, I always end up in the corner by myself being a spectator.

I love myself, I love who I am. But sometimes I wish I had the skills to fake a smile and navigate a party just to meet people and further my career. People with the skills and wherewithal to “fake it” choose to not do so and be themselves. It must bring NTs a great deal of comfort to know that if times get rough, they can just be someone else. If they cant find a job in their chosen field they can put on a smile and charm their way into things. For me, this person is kind of it. I don’t have the instincts “normal” people have. Even just saying “good morning” to me can send panic throughout my brain. I never know how to respond, its hard for me to even carry a normal conversation. And before you think to yourself “OMG ME TOO I HATE SMALL TALK, FUCK SMALL TALK”, remind yourself that even though you hate it, you have the ability to suck it up and do it. I don’t   And that bothers me sometimes. It gets lonely outside the box, being an outsider isn’t as awesome as people who have chosen to be there make it out to be.

The Art Of Awkward Situation Making

To say I am socially awkward would be an understatement. Neurotypicals (people not on the spectrum) have all these instincts that those of us on the spectrum dont have. Something as simple as saying “hi” to me can send me into a panic. Im able to grasp complicated rhythms and hear things others cant, but I have trouble with everyday conversation. For this entry I thought I’d try to lighten up the mood and share a story about just how awkward I can make things.

Im a professional awkward situation maker. K-1 level awkward situation making over here. I am the heavy weight champion of awkward silence. One problem is that I cannot for the life of me understand why someone I dont know would want to talk to me. I try to avoid conversation by keeping my headphones on and my head down. This doesn’t always work. There are some sick, crazy, depraved individuals that want to do things to you. They want to TALK to you. Gross.

My last employer was a tutoring company. We would disperse around our area and try to convince people to sign up for our tutoring program. As you can imagine I was horrible at it. It usually involved me sitting in the corner and hoping no one stopped to ask me what we were about. One bright spot however, was that my boss was willing to work with me upon hearing about my struggles with Aspergers. It was determined that I would be the guy to do logistics. I’d determine were everyone went for the day and then collect their work to be faxed at our nightly meetings…which we held in the McDonalds by Yankee Stadium.

Because the company was growing there were always new people coming to meetings. Our boss would usually tell the new jacks what the deal was. “Make sure you text Bri…where’s Brian?”. I was usually 3 tables behind everyone else, I’d raise my hand and whisper “here”, then the newbies would come give me their information. Crisis and conversation averted. One day the big bosses from Texas came to see how we operate. They wanted to split us up into groups, send us to various places in the Bronx and see how many leads we could get. I don’t do well in groups, but I went along with it. I was put into a group of 4 women and 1 other guy. He had a small car, everyone piled in while I stood outside. I said “no room left, damn. Looks like I’ll be taking the train and meeting you guys there ok bye”, the girls started laughing “Brian you’re so crazy, just get in. We wont bite, one of us can just sit on your lap”. THE HORROR. Reluctantly I got in, one of the girls made her way onto my lap. She looked at me and said “I don’t even know your name yet haha”, I tried to smile and looked out the window. Upon seeing my discomfort one of the girls asked me if I was ok. I cant remember what I said. At that point, my main objections were to not get an erection and try my hardest to not get so nervous that I open the door, tuck and roll away.

Halfway to our destination this woman named Josephine decides she wants to torture me. She starts like…talking to me. Asking me questions. “where are you from? you don’t sound like us”. “Kansas City”, I said. But that wasn’t enough. She wanted to know more. So she kept on with the questions, she asked me every question that came to her mind. Had to be like…at least 10 questions on various things from information on where I was born to how I got that job. When we got to our destination I pretty much jumped out the car. I felt like kissing the ground. That ride was torture. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and took in my surroundings. Upon opening them, I saw Josephine standing right in front of me. She said “You are very interesting. I have never met anyone like you, You’re mysterious and strange…we should talk more”. I looked down at her, and said “I have Aspergers”. Josephine smiled and said in her thick Senegalese accent (I know she’s from Senegal because she fucking told me in the car. I didn’t even ask!) “Really? I have never met anyone with Aspergers. But I hear they are very intelligent.”, not knowing what else to do I got back in the car. She leaned in, gave me her number and blew me a kiss. I waved at her and then she walked across the street.

As soon as I got home I told my girlfriend the horrors of my day. I probably sounded like a scared 5 year old explaining the monster that lives under its bed. In between fits of laughter and tears she says “omg she likes you! She wants dem drawls Brian!”. I said “WHAT?! SERIOUSLY!?! NO WAY! I’D KNOW WHEN SOMEONE WANTED ME!!! SHE JUST WANTED TO BOTHER ME!”. She quickly reminded me that I had no idea she liked me. “oh yeah” I thought. But then what would I say to Josephine at the next meeting? Well the answer to that is easy. Nothing. I avoided her like the plague.

“He Has An Amazing Voice, Doesn’t He?”

 

When moving from Montessori school to a traditional Catholic school at about 5 years old I was asked to take a written test. I aced it, but after that they asked that my mother let me play with the other kids so they could watch me socialize and see how I interacted. Of course, I walked past every kid and every toy in there and promptly sat in the corner by myself. Big eyed and scared I sat and watched the other kids play. After a few hours of this my mother came and got me. She grabbed my hand and told me that the principal wanted to talk to us, I obliged and sat in the chair as I was told. This is the first time I would hear something that would haunt me my entire life, she told my mother that although I was ahead of the other kids in most I was far behind socially. I was told that I was smart enough to skip a grade, but her recommendation was that I return to Montessori school and learn how to socialize. I didnt know what that meant, but I was excited there wouldn’t be any changes to my routine.

After completing another year at Montessori school I was finally ready for regular school. For the first time I had to wear a uniform, I thought it was cool that I would no longer have to figure out what to wear everyday. There was only one problem, I found out that buttoning up a shirt the right way is much harder than it looks. Nearly everyday I went to school with my shirt buttoned the wrong way. My teacher noticed and asked me to button my top button, I couldn’t. After buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt about 10 times she came over and helped me. I said, “thank you” and went back to my usual corner to sit down. Later that day my mother came to pick me up, my teacher then told my mother that she thought I needed to see a child psychologist to make sure everything was ok. She thought I had something called “Autism”. A week later we went to see a Dr. I remember him being very nice, he took me to a room and asked me a bunch of questions and showed me a bunch of pictures. Then he said “We’ve got some toys in the waiting room, I’m going to observe you playing”, I said “yes sir”. The problem here is that I didn’t know what playing was. I knew other kids did it, and because I tend to take things literally I thought he wanted to watch me do what I saw other kids do. So I Picked up a few toys and moved them around. 10 minutes later my Mom came in and got me. The Doctors diagnoses was that I was just “weird”. He was wrong, but that’s ok. Not much was known about Aspergers back then. If you weren’t drooling you were functioning and normal.

Throughout the years I learned how to blend in, sorta. I realized that if I just did what I saw other kids do they liked me. I didn’t realize how much of myself I was losing until about 7th grade. Thats the year I switched from Catholic school to public school. I was so nervous on the first day of school that I vomited. This routine of vomiting on the first day of school lasted until I graduated from high school. I was unable to deal with the changes. Public school was busy, noisy, scattered and scary. I completely withdrew from society that year. To the point of my teacher asking me if I was being abused. Nearly everyday she’d ask me to stay after class and talk to me. Same speech everyday for about 2 weeks. “Brian, you don’t even try. You’re so smart. You’re articulate and creative, but you don’t talk. Some of the other kids have never even heard your voice! Are you being abused? Is someone touching you at home?”, Wide eyed I’d look up at her and say “No ma’am, no Miss April”. Finally one day she had enough and called my mother for a meeting. She was shocked to see that my mother was not only an involved and good parent, but that I came from a somewhat normal home. My mother told Miss April, “Theres nothing wrong with Brian, he’s just weird”. We all laughed and I went on with my day. After a semester I grew more comfortable with the school and my new surroundings. The first time I spoke up in class all the kids turned and looked at me, “OH MY GOD BRIAN SPOKE!”, they said. Miss April turned around and said “Yes, and he has an amazing voice, doesnt he?”. Not knowing what to do with all the attention I looked back down at my paper and wished I could disappear until people stopped looking at me.  I always hated when people looked at me.

During high school I fell in love with JROTC. I liked that it was orderly, there was little socializing involved and my success was based solely on how much I accomplish. I also found that the more power I was given the better I could control my surroundings. People would be quiet if I told them to. I joined the color guard, rifle team and the drill team. I even made friends! I was obsessed. Because of the success I found in JROTC I lost interest in everything else. My life revolved around it. At the same time, my teachers in other subjects stopped challenging me. I checked out and stopped caring. In fact, I rarely ever went to some of my other classes. I was an expert in finding hidden corners and unchecked hallways to hide out in.  My mother was always confused as to how I was able to get an A in JROTC but barely pass my other classes. To be honest, I didn’t understand why I had to do anything I didn’t enjoy. I just wanted to do JROTC related things, listen to music and be left alone. But they wouldn’t let me. Constant meetings with my mother and teachers complaining about how I don’t try and that I seem like I don’t care. “I don’t”, I would reply as I calmly left the room to find my way to one of my coveted hiding spots.

People always saw potential in me. I sometimes joke that I’ve made a pretty good career out of my potential for greatness. I’ve gotten many chances at success because of people believing in what I may be able to do if I could get my life together. One of my biggest achievements (and failures) was when I received a school based military scholarship to Lincoln University in Jefferson City Missouri. The man that awarded me with the scholarship looked at me and said, “I’m going to give you a chance. Even though your grades aren’t so good you’re incredibly bright. We could use you in the army, you can do great things one day”. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up that way. I was unable to deal with the changes. It was too much at once. New city, new school, new people, more rules, and less support. I cracked. I found myself sitting in my room by myself. Any time my instructor would ask me a question I would cry. He’d ask me, “what happened Brian? Why aren’t you looking me in the eyes?” Id say, “I don’t know. This is so confusing”. Eventually, my scholarship was taken and I withdrew. I just wanted to go home.

After many more failed jobs and failed relationships I found myself consumed with the internet. In chat rooms and message boards I could interact with people without the awkwardness of first time meetings. I made friends, started romances and discovered lots of new interesting things. Including new music and boobies. I didn’t have to charm a woman to see her naked and I didn’t have to go to the CD shop to buy CDs. JACKPOT. However, I was growing increasingly lonely. I crave human interaction but I’m not sure how to actually get it. One night I went to a chat room solely to bother people (I trolled AOL chatrooms BEFORE it was cool to troll), there I met a girl with a cute pink font. I tried to bother her, but she told me I was cute. We spent the rest of that night chatting about everything from my irrational fear of cows to religion. She told me how interesting and smart I was. She let me go on hour long rants about things she didn’t care about and judging from the picture she had on her profile she was gorgeous. The only problem was that she lived in New York City. She’d tell me nightly that she wished we could be together and Id tell her “me too, but you live all the way over there”. She’d tell me about how she wanted to talk to me on the phone, but I was an expert at excuse making. Id make up an excuse on the spot “cant, my mom is on the phone”, “oh snap! Sorry, I gotta go to the store but maybe later!”. After a month of this she said “I’m calling you!” I typed up my excuse, hit enter and saw “That user is no longer online”, I immediately panicked. She stopped listening to me, she was going to call me whether I liked it or not. What was I going to say? I paced back and forth in the hallway. Repeating different ways to say “hello”. “HI!”, “WASSUP BOO?”, “WHAT IT IS GIRL?”, “HOLA!”. In them midst of my craziness the phone rang, reluctantly I picked up…”hellooo?”. She giggled and said “hi, its Chanel. You cute. Chu doin?”. We spoke everyday after that. Online, on the phone. She was my life! She made me comfortable. She let me be myself. To my surprise and confusion she thought my awkwardness was cute. She giggled at the way I organized my food. She’d smile, look at me and say “you cute”. I knew I couldn’t let her get away.

After a year of being in a long distance relationship and going back and forth she came to me and said “I cant do this anymore, I need you here with me”. I just said “ok” and made it happen. Next thing I know I’m living in Brooklyn and sleeping on my cousins couch. I was adjusting surprisingly well. New York City is busy, so busy that its easy to find yourself alone. People here don’t bother themselves with other peoples business. The isolation of this city was my saving grace.  My girlfriend and her family provided amazing support. Every once in awhile her parents would ask me “why don’t you look me in the eyes?”. Defiantly my girlfriend would say ‘THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH MY BOYFRIEND, HE’S JUST A LITTLE WEIRD”, again, we’d all laugh and go about our business. During my first few months in New York City I scored an internship at Roadrunner Records. I worked hard. First one there, last one out. I learned everything I could about that record label. I did whatever they asked me to do and did it well. But when it came time to hire someone, I was told “Brian, you do amazing work, you know your shit…but no one here really KNOWS you”. This confused me, how could they not know me? I was there everyday. And either way, why wasn’t my amazing work enough? I left Roadrunner Records angry and confused but not ready to give up on my dream. My girlfriend and I regrouped. We read books on the record industry and networking. I had new tools. I asked for another chance and was given one. This time I said hi to everyone when I came in. They gave me my own desk, my own phone number and my own email address. The other interns didn’t have this, I was so proud of myself. But looking back I know they gave me these things to get me away from them. My personality can be off putting at times. I always seem awkward and uncomfortable. Now I can understand why they didn’t want me around.

About 2 years ago my girlfriend told me I wasn’t like everyone else. I asked what she meant, she told me that everything I do is exactly the same way every single time. After a few years of many meltdowns because of changed routines she came to the conclusion that something was wrong me with me. At this point in my life I was unemployed, unable to keep a job for more than a month and confused. My life had taken a turn for the worse. The more stressed I got the more I clung to my routines. I create more routines to cope with stress. Late one night she found herself looking up Autism. She showed me the symptoms, I told her that I had been tested years ago. We came to the conclusion that I should get tested. I always knew something was “wrong” with me. I remember telling numerous friends that I felt like the whole world was in my head. “Weird” and “eccentric” weren’t the right words to describe me. The more I read about Aspergers the more it fit.

One night after looking at an absurd amount of porn I decided to see if any of my favorite stars were on Twitter. I decided to follow a few of them. One of my favorites was always Sinnamon Love. She looked like a girl that would like me (at least that’s what I told myself lol). She was tweeting about her son, who she said was Autistic. I replied to her with “90% sure I have Aspergers”. She said “really? why?” I sent her an email laying out my entire life. Part of Aspergers is ranting and not knowing when to shut up lol. I probably over shared with her, but she was sweet enough to read the entire e-mail. She told me she had done a lot of research on Aspergers herself, and judging from my issues it looked like I had it. My girlfriend and I had hit a roadblock. No one would test me, organizations that help kids don’t usually help adults (we’ll talk more about that another day). I reached out to Sinnamon Love for some help. Not only did she reassure that it would be ok and encourage me but she gave me links, phone numbers and email addresses to various organizations I had never heard of. She even gave me the name of her Doctor. Some days she’d tweet me and ask me if I had gotten tested, She’d tell me not to give up. I listened and I kept going. a year later I’ve been diagnosed and started therapy. I’m struggling right now but things are looking better.

I’m starting to realize a lot the mistakes I made in life weren’t necessarily my fault. When I thought I was doing things the “right” way, I wasn’t. I learned that I don’t even know what the right way is. I thought I’d use this blog entry to talk about my road to diagnoses. A lot of people know about it, but dont know how I got here. As you can see I had lots of help and support. There are a lot of people who arent as lucky as I am. I hope this entry can help them see that they arent alone, and that if they’re willing to open and share a little bit there are good people (sometimes strangers) willing to lend a hand.

So in conclusion, thank you to everyone that helped me find my voice. My mother, My Auntie Nini, my siblings, my family, my amazing, beautiful and patient girlfriend Chanel and Sinnamon Love, who was kind and caring enough to help out a complete stranger. I want you all to know that your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. I wont let any of you down.

GET A JOB!

One clue I had on my journey to diagnosis is my fractured job history and inability to stay employed. Most employment (especially without a college degree) requires some amount of interaction with other people, this was always very hard for me. According to previous employers my personality is “off putting” and I cant seem to connect with my fellow employees. When it came time to trim money from the budget or lay people off I was always first on the chopping block. Unfortunately working hard and being a good employee is almost never enough to keep a job. When it comes down to it, people would much rather work with someone that’s fun to be around but does OK work than someone that does good work but rarely speaks to anyone.

Another thing that’s hard to cope with for people like me is adjusting to changes. Any change in my schedule or routine is enough to give me a panic attack. This not only makes keeping a job nearly impossible, but it also makes looking for a job very hard. I know that I need a job, but I also know that it will come with a bunch of changes to the routine I have now. Just the thought of readjusting and meeting new people is enough to make my heart race. I know that no matter what I do I’ll never be able to connect with the people I work with and I know that will leave me in the same situation again. Sometimes, I’m not sure there’s a way out for me.

Most Aspies my age didnt get diagnosed until later in life and arent registered with the Department Of Disability. This means that employers arent required to make any special arrangements for us like they would with someone else that was disabled.  Because of this, most of us just end up floating from job to job unable to land on stable ground.  I’m going to be honest with you guys, at the moment I’m not capable of maintaining a job. I’ve come a long way since I started regular therapy last September but I still have a long way to go. Right now I have no income. No welfare, no unemployment and no disability benefits. I applied for disability back in December, but they can take up to 5 months to make a decision. So I’ve spent the last few months just waiting. Its been rough. Not only have I been dealing with this diagnosis but I’ve dealt with the constant threat of possible homelessness. The stress has made all the bad parts of Aspergers much, much worse. Ive gone from being high functioning to sometimes barely functioning.

Luckily I have the support system of an amazing family, the only stable thing in my life is them. I realize that I am truly blessed, but I cant help but think of all my fellow Aspies that dont have what I do. There must be thousands of Aspies out there that get branded as lazy, stupid and unwilling to work with others. This shines a light on the need of a shift in the way people view Aspergers. We need to shift our attention away from changing or curing it and onto creating a wide support system. We need job training, active support groups and laws that create an environment were we can be productive members of society. There are good things about Aspergers, but people need to let us show it.

 

 

 

Im a black man with Aspergers.

Im ok.

 

My name is Brian.

Im a black man living in New York City and I have Aspergers. Although I’ve always known that my mind didnt work like everyone elses, I wasnt diagnosed until late last year. Prior to that I spent a great deal of energy and time trying to be “normal”, even though I was never quite sure what that meant. I just knew that I felt different. While the other kids played tag or basketball I was much more interested in timing how long it took the ants on the sidewalk to devour a freshly sucked Jolly Rancher. I was never able to truly connect with the kids in my neighborhood. I always felt like a spectator, even when included in the “fun”. One way around that was by mimicking what the other kids were doing. I found that the less of myself I showed the more I was accepted. Unfortunately this filtered into other areas of my life.

In my late teens I convinced myself that the more of my culture (blackness) I gave up, the more successful I’d be. I began shedding myself of what I thought blackness was. I declared that only white women understood me, I made my hatred of rap music known everywhere I went, I scoffed and looked down at people that complained about racism by saying “SLAVERY HAS BEEN OVER FOR YEARS!! GET OVER IT”. I had a pretty skewed notion of what race and culture was back then, I just knew that the successful people on TV and in things that I saw were white, so in my head I had to be like them to get what I wanted. And back then all I really wanted was for someone to understand me. I quickly found out that it doesnt really matter how much of yourself you’re willing to give up. Some people will never accept you for what you are. Didnt matter how white my girlfriend was, didnt matter how much I claimed I hated rap music, didnt matter how “proper” the english I spoke was. I still got followed around certain parts of town.

One day while driving around with my mother we got pulled over by the police. The officer didnt bother to talk to my mother (who was driving), she walked right past her and asked me for my ID. When I protested she told me she was doing this for HER safety to make sure I didnt have any warrants. This was a big wake up call for me. I saw how much of myself I had given up and changed my tune. The last 10 years have been filled with the rediscovery of my blackness and myself. The journey has been hard, but its been worth it.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with my diagnoses of Aspergers Im about to tell you: Im learning that I need to approach my Aspergers the same way I’ve learned to approach my blackness. I have an internal argument with myself before I make any decision, it usually goes,  “what would someone normal do right now?”, “doesn’t matter, you don’t even know what that is”, “Stop being crazy”, “just stop being Autistic”, then I realize that I cant just stop being autistic and I do what the fuck I want. Learning to accept myself has been the biggest and hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life, but I’m getting there. I come from a long line of strong and beautiful people, remembering that helps me get the strength to better myself. I’ll never be like everyone else, but that’s OK because the people I’ve surrounded myself with like who I am. I think. Right? Probably.

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