Neurodiverse People Can Center Ourselves

I’d say I’m digging my grave worse, but now I know I’m back to my regular audience of neurodiverse folks and their allies…like I’d thought I was yesterday. That was a bad miscalculation, and I apologize, as I did from pretty much the outset, if you’ll read the thread. I listened to the people who actually spoke rationally to me, and I changed the article, then got mobbed by a bunch of mostly white people, many of whom did nothing but troll and bully.

I made a mistake and apologized, and fixed it as best I could. After that, I’m not in the wrong here. The people mobbing me were. And this needs said, even if it gets me more shit. I need to stand up for the rights of neurodiverse people to be part of the conversation, because we all are really tired of being told to sit down.

I’m going to go through the things I saw yesterday that were extremely worrying. Any of you who do/say these things, I really hope you do some introspection.

People who say I’m using my neurodiversity as a “shield” to “try to take part in the conversation” have no idea what it’s like to be marginalized. Marginalization is the opposite of a shield. It leaves you open to attack in a way that most people don’t understand. For instance, not to give hateful people ideas, but if someone were to call the police and say I’m a threat, they’d likely lock me up, no questions asked. This is what they do to people with psychosis, on a daily basis. This is institutional bigotry, and it’s wrong. So, yeah. Being psychotic: not a shield.

People who say neurodiverse people don’t know what it’s like to be marginalized, or that what we see as marginalization is society working to separate us “for our own good” need to step back and pay attention. Neurodiverse people like me are considered a “threat” even though we’re not. At all. We’re more likely to be hurt BY others than to hurt others. Nevertheless, any time someone does something shitty and violent, people say they’re “mentally ill”. For most people violent behavior equals mental illness, and vice versa. This is the sort of bigotry that gets us killed. Most people who do violent and horrible things are just assholes, racists, etc. Every time someone says we’re violent, we’re marginalized more and more.

The worst part of all of this marginalization is that most neurodiverse people buy into it. We think there really is something wrong with us. We have a hard time standing up for ourselves for this reason, and also because of how exhausting it is to be shouted down and told we have no right to speak up for ourselves. This is why I’m not backing down. I’m not going to be told, like I was so many times yesterday, that I need to sit down and shut up. That this isn’t about me. That I was “whining” and “being bitter” and “being delusional”, and that my “viewpoint is shitty”. Those words are marginalizing. In standing up for “diversity” and “inclusiveness”, you’re trying to silence and discount a marginalized voice. Period.

Because  me talking, on my own blog, about my own experience, is not me “talking over” anyone. There’s room for me in the conversation. Besides: when you’re marginalized, people don’t sit waiting to hear your voice. They don’t just let you talk. Sometimes you have to talk over people in order to be heard.

So, yeah, shame on me for using that book as an example, because it hurt people’s feelings. Again, I apologized, and took out the reference. I feel extremely bad, because this shit got so big it did end up taking away from the joy of the day. It’s something I didn’t think about when talking to my core audience of neurodiverse people. It wasn’t our day. That doesn’t mean I had no right to speak at all on that day, though, let me make that clear. And it doesn’t mean I was diminishing a person of color’s achievement, either. Neurodiverse people have a right to center ourselves and our feelings. There’s room for us at the table without anyone else having to feel they’re being shunted aside. If you think differently, then you’re actually trying to take the conversation away from us. You’re making it about you.

My main point in the article yesterday, I want to reiterate, because it was valid. To start with, all of the hurtful stuff people said that I said, I didn’t actually say. I said the book had to be a million times better than a non-Own Voices book to get published. I said that Own Voices books are necessary and special. My real point was the publishing industry shouldn’t pat themselves on the back for publishing an Own Voices book, because publishing great books is what they’re there to do. (To be clear, PEOPLE should celebrate that this book got published, because it’s important. Since my partner was nearly shot by police when unarmed, and then he was blamed for it, I have a very strong personal emotional reaction to this point of view being humanized, and am so glad it was given voice.)

One of the most worrisome things I saw was defensiveness from the gatekeeprs themselves. They said not only that I was “whining” and “bitter” (don’t say these things to a marginalized person who is talking about how they’re being marginalized. Ever. It’s not okay). They also said, “Publishers aren’t ‘patting themselves on the back’. They should make a big deal out publishing an Own Voices book. When publishers see there’s money in Own Voices, they’ll publish more.” That’s missing the point, and it’s dangerous for publishers to think of it this way, without addressing the real problem. There’s always been money in Own Voices. We, the readers, know it. We have been hungering for these books for ages, and JUST NOW they’re seeing dollar signs. But, considering rejections I got for my book with the schizophrenic MC before I found it a good home, and ones that other people are still getting, agents and editors continue to “not identify” with Own Voices to a much larger extent than non-Own Voices, and they use us to fill “quotas”. Until the latent bias in the gatekeepers goes away, a lot of great books are still going to fall through the cracks. Don’t get defensive and think we’re whining or bitter. Just listen.

I hope people will stop attacking me in non-productive ways, and see the real problem here. I’m not the real problem. I’m an Own Voices writer stating my opinion, and anyone who thinks that’s a problem, needs to take a good, hard look at themselves.

Anyone who still wants to talk to me and also LISTEN, I will be very happy to do so. If you’re not going to admit my voice is valid, though, you need to step back.

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