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  • Writer's pictureLauren P.

when The Black Girl turns out to be Autistic by Lauren P.

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Being a Black autistic teen girl means

Not even being able

To claim those labels

Due to the ignorance of others

Autistic is as much of an identity to me as Black or as female

But explain to me why you prefer to see Black before autistic

As though I should neglect one piece of myself while praising the other

All these things are there but I have more depth to me than these labels

They do not define me but I deserve to be able to claim them

To have a name for everything that I’ve endured

To have a community of people to identify with

I never had to fight for the label of Black, only the oppression coming with it

When it comes to autism, I have to fight for both

These names, they mean something to me

Because with each label comes a different story

And so when I hear people telling me that I can’t be autistic because I don’t look the part

Because they are not familiar with any teen girls of color on the spectrum

Because they choose to be ignorant and project their ignorance onto me,

I have flashbacks

Of being told I am not Black, I cannot claim Black, I am excluded from Black, because I am too “smart” and “articulate”

That in order to earn the label of African-American, of Dark-Skinned, of Melanin Goddess,

In order to earn the pride of the movement “Black Girl Magic”

I must first dumb myself down

Display myself as ghetto

Allow self-hatred to devour me

Accept the fact that I will be deemed as boring simply because I am educated

As though ignorance is not why I had to write this poem in the first place

Call sister girl ratchet because she is the Black girl I could never teach myself to be

Black and autistic means being of color while seeing the world in too much color

How would you feel if one of the identities you were born as was the same thing stopping the other one from being validated?

And when you go and add teen girl to that it opens up a whole new language of misunderstanding

It means rape, it means coercion, it means not having a grasp on the societal constructions of consent so you give it away without even understanding your right as a woman

As a human

It’s almost as if I don’t look like I’m struggling to you, then I don’t struggle at all

It’s almost as if in order to earn the label of autistic

I must first lighten my skin, change my gender, and mentally detach myself from my blackness

In everyone’s eyes but my own,

I am too smart to be autistic, yet too dark to be accepted

In everyone’s eyes but my own,

Black girls can’t be autistic ‘cause that is simply the way it’s supposed to be

Meaning that I am not even supposed to exist

So I guess that is the reason why I am treated as though I’m invisible

I guess that is the reason why you call me “weird”

I am aware enough to know that I am not like you

But you are not like me and I don’t think that makes you weird

Not weird in the way that you call me, as though I am infected

As though calling me that word makes me feel any less rejected

I am weird to you because I am different

Different because when people say autism is colorful, they don’t mean autism is colored

Being a Black autistic teen girl means

Never feeling like you are enough

Never being able to give anyone all of your issues because they can only handle a fraction of them

Because only claiming one identity is too much oppression for the listener

Too overwhelming

So the listener prefers to proceed uneducated since it is much more convenient

It means never being able to get to the root of what has caused you all of this pain because society screams “neurotypical” or “mentally ill” before whispering “autistic” due to the fact that it is easier not to dig

when The Black Girl turns out to be Autistic

The whole world stops and screeches in agony at the fact that she has figured herself out

All while wishing she could just be something else instead

Maybe ghetto, maybe angry, maybe loud, or maybe dead

when the Black Girl turns out to be Autistic,

The world admits that the system was never broken

Rather it was built for the gain of everything that she is not

Autistic means not having any real friends and not even knowing how to identify if you might have some

It means becoming so good at masking that you hide an entire diagnosis

And because it is all internal, people point out black and female before they point out autistic

Please do not tell me that labels don’t matter

Because they divide us just as much as they unite us

So just because you feel as though you are inspiring me or teaching me something by trying to separate me from autistic

You’re wrong

And I never said my name was Autistic

My name has always been Lauren

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