Our experience with racial discrimination and harassment as an autistic person of color.
Yesterday we had a wonderful conversation about the BIPOC community and being autistic. The information brought to mind our experiences growing up in a racist community. Being "white-passing" can be considered a good thing in secular spaces. However, when we were growing up our barrier was "not being white-passing enough" and "not being black enough" to be accepted on either side of our heritage.
Trigger warning: we are going to discuss racism, racial violence, and our experiences in detail.
Growing up in the middle
Our mother is of European heritage and our father is of African heritage. We know that our ancestors on our father's side were slaves brought to Europe that took the name of their masters. Also, we know that our ancestors from our mother's side owned slaves. We were born directly in the middle of two separate worlds.
Neither side of our parent's family agrees with interracial marriage. On one side we have anti-black rhetoric and on the other anti-white rhetoric. Our parents married in the 80s and divorced shortly after our birth. They did not have a relationship with their families. Both sides of the parental line are filled with rapists, murderers, and violent people so it was no great loss to them. We are glad we never were in direct contact with either side of their family. We are a child from two worlds that didn't fit in either and was hated by both.
The first question our parents received from estranged family members was "what color is the baby?" That was the only thing that mattered, the color of our skin.
Barriers to emotional development
We had severe trauma of many kinds throughout our life and racial trauma is one of them. There were children at a young age that called us racial slurs, refused to play with us, and at one point spit on us. Walking down the streetcars with confederate flags and hate images shouted at us driving.
From an early age, we knew we were hated. Our autistic mind couldn't fully comprehend the magnitude of what was happening. We couldn't understand why people hated us so much.
The experiences during this time instilled fear in our hearts that remains to this day. We are afraid of groups of every ethnicity because we received hate from all of them. Our emotional development was traumatized from an early age just because we are not one race.
No more on-campus school
It was our first month on campus and we were thrilled to get started. A man sat next to us, pale skin and a shaved head. We didn't think much about his appearance at first, but we're noticeably uncomfortable.
Our last name at the time was noticeable "not white." Near the end of the class, he casually asked us about our ethnicity. This question came up often, so it wasn't out of the ordinary. We answered how we always did "We are black and white." Later that week, he pulled out a small pocket knife, and before the professor came into the classroom he whispered in our ear "I am going to kick your ass and carve you up you little *racial slur*"
We were horrified and immediately left the classroom. We were having a panic attack in the hallway when the professor came around the corner. We told her everything that happened moments before. The most disgusting thing happened, she said we should get over it. Our life was threatened, but the professor, who was white, didn't bat an eye. Instead of punishment for the student, the Dean assigned us to a different class.
We went to campus every day terrified our life because we were between two worlds.
The Black Lives Matter movement is vital to the progression of society. This story is our personal experience we support BLM and in no way feel this action by one person represents anyone else.
We joined a conference call that was for BLM discussions and events. While we were listening to the presentation we received a direct message. It said, "are you black?" Taken by surprise we answered, "Yes, we are half black." The reply was "you should leave. Since you're not pure your life doesn't matter."
We left the call and cried for hours. No matter where we turned we were not accepted. We were ostracized from each community that is a part of our heritage.
Accepting our authentic selves
To this day we have fear, but we accept our heritage. We know we are both of African and European descent. No one can change that and we wouldn't want to. Others may hate us for our skin, our parentage, but all that matters is we love ourselves.
Every obstacle we faced in life because of our rave has made us resistant to hatred. We don't have time for people in our life that don't accept all of us. Let the haters threaten and say their harmful words because we know that we are worthy. Our skin color doesn't dictate our success or how we treat others. We choose to acknowledge the oppression and speak out against it.