Being An African American With Asperger’s

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This little boy reminds me of myself at that age, sitting by himself and looking like something’s going on in his life that he doesn’t like. Photo courtesy of bet.com.

 

Some brief (I hope) musings on what it’s like having Asperger’s Disorder as a Black male, and the alienation I experienced due to that.

When the whole Oscars controversy – the one where for the second straight year, no blacks or any other people of color were nominated among the major award categories – went down, of course I was appropriately disappointed.

I was also glad that the Academy took the steps it did to try to foster more diversity and inclusion.

But the whole thing invoked another reaction in me…

I don’t know exactly why, but it reminded me of the relationships I have had with the black community at large throughout the course of my life.

Which was and is best described as complex and mixed at best, as my disability on the Autism Spectrum Disorder was the main factor in being largely teased and bullied by my African-American peers as a child and through my adolescence, being called “Goofy” and a “Mark” among other things.

The book I’ve been working on, “MY ASPIE LIFE”, which I have finished my first draft and plan to have self-published by my 50th birthday in 2017, has a chapter detailing this alienation called “The Black Rejection” (that’s what I’m calling it so far, though that may change) explaining how I was – in general, as there were exceptions –  socially rejected by my fellow black kids growing up and how I somehow couldn’t relate to the various nuances of black culture, particularly inner city black culture.

For instance…

A.  School success is generally not regarded as “cool”  and seen as a “white” thing among lower-income black youth, and I was one of the best students during my elementary and junior high years, getting A’s with regularity as school just came easy to me.

B.  Ability to fight, to throw fisticuffs, to show that you are “hard”, is a predominant part of inner city black youth culture, as is being “tested” to see how tough you were.

I didn’t like to fight and had no interest in doing so, preferring to be left alone unless you were being nice, which doomed me to some traumatic years as a “Mark”.

C.  Like the typical “aspie”, my gross motor skills weren’t up to snuff for a long time as a kid as my athletic abilities didn’t really start to develop until around age eleven.

Which is a crime punishable by social death in black youth culture, and was another albatross around my neck as by the time my sports skills improved, it was too late. My reputation as a “Sorry Mother F***er” was entrenched.

D.  Due to being relatively poor, I didn’t dress in the “fresh” styles until around eighth grade or so, which was another source of ridicule.

In short, in black inner city youth culture, as far as my experiences…

It wasn’t cool to be smart and get good grades. I was smart and got good grades.

It was seen as cool to be “hard” and to fight to show your “hardness”. I wasn’t interested in fighting and didn’t give a care about seen as hard.

It was seen as cool to be good to sports. I wasn’t until much later on.

It was expected to be dressed in the “freshest” fashions and shoes. I didn’t for a long time.

I’m sure some are asking, “What are you getting at?”

While I am properly proud of being African-American and of my black heritage, and while I hold no grudges against those who bullied me back in the day as I have forgiven them,

While I am definitely not an “Uncle Tom” or any kind of black conservative like Ben Carson, Herman Cain or the man who first drafted Proposition 209, which banned Affirmative Action in California’s public institutions,  Ward Connerly,

And even though I gratefully managed to find some good black friends in college who accepted me for who I was,

Most regretfully, those negative experiences I felt in my youth still leaves me feeling a tiny bit alienated somehow, like I culturally don’t have enough in common with too many of my black peers, particularly those in low-income communities.

Which I reckon I can’t do anything about, not if I want to stay myself.

It’s too bad really, as far as black unity is concerned, but like I said,

Unless I want to change my personality, which no one should ever do, there’s nothing that can be done about it.

 

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A cool diagram of the various disabilities on the Autism Specturm Disorder. Image courtesy of rapidrazzaq.com

 

 

 

 

 

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The State of Race in America (From The Point Of View of Little Old Me)

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Image courtesy of martinlutherkingday2014.blogspot.com

 

 

Not that my view is all that important as I’m not Henry Louis Gates or Cornel West, and am definitely not any kind of sociologist or expert,

But being that today IS the day we celebrate the legacy of the most famous Black American of African descent in history, a man whose name, along with Mahatma Gandhi, is synonymous with the terms “Peace”, “Unity”, and “Racial Harmony”, I thought it would be a good idea to give my one cent as to how things are between Caucasians of European descent and people of color in these United States.

So here goes…

 

Unlike what I suppose so many others will do today when writing about this topic and the man who we are celebrating today, I’m not going to state any  “I Have a Dream” quotes.

Or any quotes for that matter save for the three I’ve posted in this article’s pictures; there are a zillion other sites, TV shows, and the like where one can get that.

Or visit any elementary school around this time of year, as even the most conservative schools in the reddest of states put together a Martin Luther King, Jr.  assembly or something of that nature, mentioning how the black folks in Montgomery, AL wouldn’t use public transportation for a year in the mid-1950s because a seamstress refused to be moved to the back of a bus one evening.

Along with playing that “Dream” speech in their classrooms.

I’m also not going to say what so many people say around this time, how “We have come so far, but we have a long way to go.”

First of all, considering all the crap that’s been going down lately, that needs to go without saying.

And second of all, people have been saying that for fifty years, yet…

In quite a few ways, I’m convinced that it’s safe to say things have not only have a long way to go, they’ve gotten worse.

Just ask the families of those poor young African-American kids who were murdered by the police.

Or those actors and directors who were snubbed by the Academy Award nominations for the second consecutive year.

Or the students at the University of Missouri and many other colleges who were not only called “Diggers” with a capital “N”, but who have endured “microagressions” – merely a fancy word for “slights” – ever since those institutions of higher learning allowed blacks and other people of color into their halls.

Or the Today show’s Al Roker, who was not only recently passed over in getting a taxi, but that taxi’s driver admitting that he passed Roker over for a white man because of his skin color.

 

 

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All of the world’s as well as America’s racial/cultural issues would be solved if this statement was universally embraced. Image courtesy of eslkevin.wordpress.com

 

I’ll even dare say that I reckon there are plenty of folks who, given the attitude of certain whites – you should read the comments from various online articles focusing on racial issues that I have checked out; they sound as if they were written by members of the Ku Klux Klan, or at least people who sympathize with them – see these times as not unlike the America of the 1950s and previous decades as far as how whites regard blacks are concerned.

Why, one commenter of an article I read today mentioned how he was for segregation, and that he didn’t want to do business with blacks and felt he shouldn’t be forced to, calling it a matter of freedom.

That seems to be the mentality of far too many people, though it’s tragically true that a racist can’t be forced to not be one or to accept someone else whose skin color or culture is different from his as an equal.

Which in my view was the one flaw of the Civil Rights Movement; that it seemed to be the opinion that whites would learn to wholeheartedly love people of color if enough marches, protests, and speeches were done and enough laws were passed.

That if African-Americans were allowed to use the same bathrooms, go to the same schools, eat in the same restaurants – and all the rest – as whites, then those Caucasians would naturally see the error of their racist ways and happily accept all blacks as complete equals.

It’s true that plenty of whites have done exactly that.

But it’s also true that more than plenty of whites have not.

Which is why I state that the Civil Rights Movement had a flaw.

It’s easy for me to say that all of this has left me with a sense of defeat in that true racial harmony will never be a reality not only in America, but throughout the world; check out what’s be going on not only with the current anti-immigration sentiments in Europe but, as the ultimate example, the Apartheid era in South Africa, which was more blatant in its bigotry in that for 46 years, that “separation” policy was in that country’s constitution while American segregation was never federal law, but confined to state and local laws.

But that is a bit too simplistic for me to rest my complete convictions on.

As for the future of race relations and the chances of true racial love and harmony in this country, which Dr. King based his life’s work on, I have just five words in regards to that:

 

I HONESTLY DO NOT KNOW.

 

I don’t know what else to say, except to trust God that it will all turn out well.

As Malcolm X once said, “..It takes God himself to solve this racial problem.”

 

 

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Image courtesy of adanyd.hostoi.com

 

 

What I Hope To See and Accomplish In 2016

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I’ve always loved wide open spaces like the one depicted in this painting; it gives me such a relaxing, contented feeling. Image courtesy of pinterest.com

 

I’ll make this very short and sweet…

Besides looking into possibly making money from this blog and particularly from my sports fan site, SoCal Sports Annals (click on the link to check it out) and doing some rewrites and edits “MY ASPIE LIFE” the book I’ve been writing describing my lifelong  social struggles due to my being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder – having Asperger’s Syndrome to be precise,

Here’s what I want in 2016:

HAPPINESS

Not just for me, though of course being happy is and has always been a goal of mine,

But also, at the risk of sounding pompous, for the world as it seems that the vast majority the nearly eight billion people on this planet are in some degree of dire straits, whether it is from attacks from extremist religious groups,

Or trying to eke out some kind of survival while living on the streets; the Los Angeles area, where I have lived for forty years, is virtually the capital of the homeless judging by the many tents and sleeping bags set up on the streets,

Or struggling in poverty in general while trying to deal with powerful folks who don’t seem to care about them, whose attitude is “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” when they don’t even have any boots, let alone straps.

Heck, I just want to see happiness as well as peace in this bluish/greenish/brownish planet of ours.

I’ll be honest…

The way things are going, and considering the way human nature is, I have no realistic notions or expectations of any of the world’s issues being solved in a spectacular fashion over these next twelve months.

But I do have one positive thing going, that keeps me and I’m sure millions of others going, thanks to the Good Lord:

HOPE

Sometime it’s a lot of hope, sometimes it’s less; I’m not going to lie. But…

I suppose having that hope has got to count for something.