Do I live in fear for my Black autistic son’s life? A Black mom’s manifesto

Jun 10, 20 Do I live in fear for my Black autistic son’s life? A Black mom’s manifesto

Do I live in fear for my Black, autistic son’s life? I’ve struggled with what to say. My family is a rainbow of race, socioeconomic, occupation, and cultural experiences.  I love them all. From my family who are and were incarcerated to those who are doctors, lawyers, and business owners. From my family who are veterans and former police officers to my family who are health care workers, truck drivers, former farmers, and factory workers. Black, White, Asian, Native American. These are just a few examples of the beautiful diversity that is my family and I love every single one equally without exception. The last thing I want is for any of them to feel otherwise. The one thing we all have in common is the intense love we have for our children. That is a constant within my family. Our children have mommas and daddies in every household. We all understand the bond between a parent and child. To say the least, we all understand the heartache and fear a parent would feel if our child were in danger at any time.

Do I live in fear for my Black son

My son is Black and diagnosed with autism. At no point have I, or do I, fear for his safety. But why is that? Is it because racism does not exist? No. Is it because he’s not at risk of being abused or brutalized because his disability is misunderstood and scary to some people? No. Is it because I cannot relate to the anger and fatigue that the entire world is screaming about? No. Is it because I blindly capitulate to the sanctity of any group without recognizing the need for individual accountability? No, if you do wrong you are accountable for your actions I don’t care what group you belong to (Black, White, law enforcement, politician, etc.). Is it because I have never experienced discrimination? ABSOLUTELY NOT. From being teased about my dark skin growing up, to having “go home n-word” shouted at me as I walked home from school, to being treated as “angry” or “scary” in the workplace the ugliness of discrimination has been real for me too. The festering wound that is racial and cultural inequality is gangrenous and can only serve to rot humanity to the core one decaying limb at a time.

So why do I not live in fear for my Black, autistic son’s safety? Because of my family. Because of what I have seen and felt. Because I have been in a room with Blacks, Whites, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, former felons, police officers, straight, and gay. I have seen what real love and respect looks like. I’ve seen what so many on the side of divisive rhetoric and hate try to keep us from: the ability to love without insecurity about our own identity, being able to know our perspective or faith is not invalid because an opposing ideology exists. We are kept from seeing our similarities, and through that lens filtering how we treat one another. We are kept from knowing the humanity in ourselves, and in the other person, is what matters most. But, I have seen the humanity and I have felt the compassion. That is why I do not live in fear.

The soul crushing part is that so many DO live in fear and I often feel helpless to stop it. Some dismiss the pain of others without filtering that pain through the lens of humanity and they struggle with seeing beyond themselves. They don’t ask how they can help others heal. They can’t see that their silence and selective blindness when others inflict pain enables and justifies abuse. They can’t see that their friend or family is not “one of the good ones” and somehow immune to feeling the immense pain of discrimination. Those that are uncomfortable with changing the way things have been for too long, don’t understand (or don’t accept) that it is not the obligation of the oppressed to make the oppressor (or the bystander) comfortable. The abused do not have to make their demands for justice convenient. The abused and battered determine when enough is enough, not the abuser.

It fills me with immense sadness that not everyone is privileged to have a family like mine. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, family by marriage, family by baby momma/daddy, and play cousins; my son is welcomed with love and understanding in every household. They do not talk at him, he is spoken to. He is not treated lesser than or looked at strangely. He is never not safe. His life matters.

I support any peaceful, nonviolent means to end this pain. To remove the cancer of hate so others can experience, like I do, what it’s like not to live in fear.

 

– Dr. Monique Binger

 


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External Resources

International Bipolar Disorder Foundation

Mayo Clinic

Genetics Home Reference – NIH

Support program: Autism Sibling Support Initiative

Support program: Sibling Support Project

Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council

Maryland Early Intervention and Special Education Services

Administration for Community Living

Pathfinders for Autism

Disability Scoop

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

Wounded Warriors PTSD Project

Warriors Journey Post Traumatic Stress

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD

Eating Disorder Hope website

Bulimia.com

Maryland Preschool Special Education

Maryland Department of Education Division of Early Childhood

 

 

 

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