by Monika Brooks
So I’m watching Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta (Yes, I do watch it. Fight me…) and reading the live tweets as usual and the following tweet comes up:
“#LHHATL I think Stevie J may be on the autism spectrum. Serious.”
For those of you that are above watching the show, I will explain: He is a musician that says he has 5 Children by 5 different women. He is also a womanizer and a narcissist that you would not only not want near your daughter, you would pretty much not want her in the same state with him.
One woman corrected him, pointing out that just because he’s a horrible person, a link to the autism spectrum should not be made. Very good point as some folks can just be horrible with no diagnosis at all. The original poster noted that because of Stevie J’s Inability to check for social cues, that Asperger’s is his guess. The woman was unmoved and said simply:
"Because Stevie J is an idiot.....that should not be compared with autism"
Completely valid and handled with dignity and poise. No fanfare, no mass promotion. Just a simple correction of someone that heard of Autism and not experienced it first hand. Handled exactly how it should be.
Because the post I saw came from someone considered an academic, and he is basically well liked, and is considered a voice of the people, there will be no 50 Cent style outrage. There will be no “this is what Autism looks like” twitter stream of beautiful children and adults on the autism spectrum. There will be no letter from Holly Robinson Peete broadcasted on every form of media and Social Media.
Just like there was no protest of the movie “21 Jump Street (which featured a cameo of Mrs. Robinson Peete)” that had a similar “Are you Autistic?” joke. I’m not mad at all. There are specific reasons why certain things are noteworthy and others aren’t.
I am personally not mad at the fact that the person posted something that made him seem uninformed. And I am not going to launch a huge protest and here's why: It’s what I call the “Politics of Protest.”
There is no “money” in protesting a random person. There is believed to be no more political capital gained in defending folks on the Autism Spectrum to this person as it is for us to defend them against the grandparent, preacher or random parent that tells us parents of children on the Spectrum that we should pray or spank the Autism away.
As parents/advocates, we somehow feel more comfortable correcting celebrities than we do folks we know. We go all in on folks like 50 Cent, while folks like our teachers, relatives and neighbors are left uninformed. The presence of social media makes things easier as there is a safe level of distance between us and those we protest. We won’t get the look of disbelief or cynicism that we normally get when we explain the spectrum and our child’s place in it.
I would offer that there is more to Autism Awareness than to go after celebrities. We must be strong everywhere starting with the elder that doesn’t understand how you “allow” meltdowns to happen. Then spread out to the teacher that incorrectly calls your child a disciplinary problem instead of looking deeper. Individual protest is needed daily to provide the “protest” we seek for Autism and other Invisible challenges (ADHD, Dyslexia, Etc…).
And to that young lady that spoke out because she felt she should speak for those that can't speak for themselves, Thank you! You are part of the solution.
About the Author: