If you're not uncomfortable, I'm not doing my job.
I'm not here to reassure you that you're okay, that you're not one of them, that you're not that kind of person. I don't write to make you feel good about yourself, and I certainly don't write to stroke your ego. I don't write because I want people to think well of me, and I don't write because I want to make excuses or amends. I don't write because things are good and happy and positive, because frankly, they’re not. I don’t write to reassure you of your own safety in privilege, and I don’t write to appease you or anyone else. And if your feelings get hurt because I’ve spoken truth, then that’s your problem.
Let me be perfectly clear.
I write because my voice is necessary and valid and legitimate. I write because I need to agitate you. I write to shout from the rooftops that I’m here and I have a voice and my voice and hands are loud. I write because ableism, paternalism, infantilization, murder apologetics, and de-legitimization must be called out wherever and whenever they happen. I write because sitting passively while my people are dying and languishing in institutions just isn’t my style. I write because I am compelled to shout for justice for my people, and I write because that is the only medium in which I can have full freedom of expression to share my rage and my tears and everything that I am and feel and drown. I write because I don’t have the power and privilege to speak my voice in any other medium without fear of shutdown and de-legitimization and silencing.
My voice is my own, and you cannot and will not silence me or keep my words from mattering. My voice matters and I matter. And I am as I am, not as who you’d like me to be or who you pretend that I am or who you wish I could be in some fantastical dream of yours. My voice is unencumbered with the weight of dishonesty or false courtesy or sugar-coating or mitigation. My voice is mine alone.
I am not yours to appropriate in a condescending, paternalistic shut-down of other Autistic voices. I am not yours to commandeer as an example of what you want from Autistics while you use your voice to silence so many necessary and vital Autistic voices. I am not yours to label and put on a pedestal for your own contrived purposes, and I am not yours to use as a token of your supposed respect for those of us who are willing to push the boundaries of radicalism and revolution.
I don’t write from a place of hate—I write from a place of truth and justice; I ache and lose sleep and spoons every day as I thirst for justice and redress for my people. I write because I want to live in a world that is more just and equitable for disabled people like me. I write because I want to live in a world where disabled people have the same access and opportunity as anyone else. I write because ableism is so rampant in the world in which we live now that not writing would not merely do a great disservice to other disabled people but would make me complicit in the perpetuation of ableism in policy and in practice against our people.
If you want to call me hateful, go ahead; you have the right to do that. If you want to call me bigoted, go ahead; you have the right to do that. If you want to call me unreasonable or irrational, go ahead; you have the right to do that. For that matter, go ahead and call me an extremist, call me the fringe, call me delusional or uneducated or ignorant or naïve or whatever other pejorative suits your fancy, because you have the right to do that. But you should know that every time you attack my character and my integrity with your pejoratives cleverly disguised as respectful disagreement, you are silencing my voice. Every time you slander my name and insult me instead of engaging directly and meaningfully with the content of what I write, you demonstrate enormous disrespect, flagrant disregard, and egregious insensitivity to the consequences of what it is that you are doing.
I don’t write to make you comfortable. I don’t write to preach to the choir. If I’m not challenging you, if I’m not calling you out, if I’m not agitating you; if I’m not bringing you to the edge of your seat with white knuckles, bright eyes, and quick breath—then I’m not doing my job right. The moment I slip into complacency, into appeasement, into smiling and nodding as injustice occurs beneath my nose—when that happens, let me be damned. I will not stop writing, I will not stop speaking, I will not stop condemning injustice and ableism when they happen simply because you think you can silence me by calling me hateful.
You might as well come out and say what you really mean—you are afraid of me and you are afraid to hear the truth, as raw and painful as it can and often must be. You are afraid that if you don’t distance yourself from me, you too will be viewed like me, and you too will face silencing and de-legitimization. And so you will bring those tactics to bear against me before it happens to you.
I don’t write to be liked or praised. I write because I have something to say that needs to be said.