Archive for February, 2016
They tell me, if I work in solidarity with people of color, and try to educate myself to unlearn the racism I have been taught, that I must be motivated by white guilt.
They tell me if I criticize what other white people say, that I must hate myself- my skin, my “culture”, “heritage”, “people”. They don’t specify what they mean by those things. Apparently I share their culture, am one of their people, just based on my skin color…
They tell me that immigrants are coming to destroy “our” way of life, religion, culture, take “our” jobs. They forget all the same things were said about their ancestors.
They tell me Black, brown, Asian people are more homophobic and sexist- it’s just “their culture” what do you expect. While most of the laws made to oppress queer people and women are made by white (purportedly straight) men. Clearly we need to invade those other countries so we can civilize them and bring them feminism, or atheism, or capitalism or Christianity. Because that would be progress.
They ask why study other languages, because English is clearly the best one, immigrants all need to learn English. They forget how long their German or other ancestors kept speaking their languages. They forget some of my ancestors stopped speaking their native language, being force-taught “superior English” before even coming to this country.
They tell me that “white genocide” is apparently a problem I should be worried about, forgetting that some of my ancestors survived genocide- whether they were considered “white” or not at the time.
They worry about me riding the bus and walking in certain neighborhoods, in spite of the fact that a white cis (non-trans) woman is less likely to be attacked than a woman or man of color.
They want to keep out Syrian and other Muslim refugees to protect white women like me. That’s why the Klan was formed, why countless Black men were hung. To protect white women. I am more likely to be abused or attacked by white men- simply due to who is in my social circle, and who I tend to date. If that happens, though I suppose their concern for me will disappear, how was I dressed, did I have a proper escort.
I am also told that I need protection from the trans women who need to use the bathroom. In spite of the fact that I’ve experienced far more bullying from other white cis girls, because I wasn’t feminine enough, my teenage autistic awkwardness sticking out. I learned that there were many ways to be a woman from trans women, from women of color, from non-binary and genderqueer folks. The same people making these bathroom laws also oppose anti-bullying laws. Who are they actually protecting?
Autism used to be divided into “High-functioning Autism” or Asperger’s Syndrome and “Low-Functioning Autism”. Commonly these are conflated with the ability to speak and various self-care skills. Though these have since been lumped together into one diagnosis- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the DSM-V in the United States. But people still use HFA/LFA and Asperger’s and “mild” and severe informally as descriptors.
Autistic activists have been critical of this distinction long before the “merger” of autism labels. No matter how well-meaning, they are frequently used against us- too high or low functioning for this or that service, based on shallow observations and assumptions, this person’s life is easy, this person’s life is hard, this person’s experiences are a valid representation of autism, this person’s aren’t. It isn’t flattering to be told “you’re doing well for someone with autism “. I want to be doing well *for me* relative to my abilities, skills, effort and what makes me happy- which might not fit other people’s ideas of success, but look at our society- I suppose Donald Trump is considered “successful”.
At the same time, I understand the need to communicate what sorts of skills and abilities an autistic person has. But in fact, moving away from functioning labels may actually be helpful in getting people to better understand autism and all the ways it can manifest. To be honest, I don’t think there is actually a good way of “replacing” functioning labels with something more accurate and less ableist. It’s a lot more qualitative- someone’s ability to do a particular task well often depends on what else is going on- sensory input, interactions with other people, disruptions or lack thereof in expected schedules and plans. Heck, this is the case for most human beings, autistic people are just more easily affected by these things.
The best shorthand descriptor is I (or my child/student etc.) need X type of support, accommodation etc. What I find difficult is that many people only seem to understand- or even legally allow, or portion out needed funding for an accommodation if it is necessary *all the time*, when many of them are for me pretty situational. “That’s not an accommodation- that’s just a preference”. Sometimes getting my preference can mean the difference between a job well done and a job done at the bare minimum. It’s not always this petty thing, like being allowed to decorate my cubicle or not.
I can go to work and do Task X at Pace Y, but then you throw in an office party, and I may need a break between that and doing regularly expected Task X in order to do it competently. I may get permission to skip the office party, but skipping every office party may result in some unforseen social consequence, because Everyone Was Told X Thing at the Party, um hello, duh? Policy change, competition announcement, co-worker wondering why I didn’t congratulate him/her on the birth of their new child. Or just the general perception that I am not a “team player”. Explicit communication please!
My birthday was a few days ago (the 16th) so here’s a little year in review…
- Dan (my partner) has been amazingly patient in teaching me to drive, last summer he got me a car, a little Kia Rio to practice in.
- Along with some other folks, starting forming an independent Druid grove in July- we have had several rituals since then, written by-laws (adapted version of Twin Cities Pagan Pride) and chose the name Northern Roots Grove, we also now have a logo.
- I got my driver’s license in September (the 3rd test)
- Got a job in December at my alma mater as a fund-raising assistant, but my skills were not quite up to snuff, so I lost it. Oh well, still learned some things…
- Smashed up the Kia (I’m OK though!) Buying a new car today! (well new to us..)
- I’ve been enjoying serving as a board member of the Bisexual Organizing Project, was re-elected to the position this January (it’s a year-long term)
- There is now a GLBT+ adults with autism support/social group that meets monthly at the Autism Society of Minnesota, prior to the general adult support group led by BOP’s own Sara Lahti. Ran into one of my former campers there!
- I just signed up for Voc Rehab (3rd times the charm) Looks like it may be slow getting in due to state funding crunches, so if I get put on a waiting list, I’ll try other things too…
- Starting up a Bi+ board gaming group- I had a little trouble getting it off the ground before, but just met with one of my fellow board members and we came up with some strategies.
- Northern Roots Grove will be hosting a party suite at Paganicon in March, along with several other Druid groups. We’ll be next door to the Haitian Vodoun suite. Sign up by the way- another deadline for it is Feb 21!
- I will be doing a presentation at Paganicon focusing on clearing up common Pagan misconceptions about Irish history post-Christian conversion. It’s only 45 minutes so I will not be covering the Troubles…
- Helping plan the BECAUSE conference– Bisexual Empowerment Conference, a Uniting Supportive Experience- it’s coming up in April- you should register! and submit workshop proposals! I’m thinking of doing one about self-advocacy.
“Who I am criticizing are the people who are not Heathens, who do not want anything to do with Heathenry, yet seek to either influence Heathen organizations or otherwise condemn the actions of a minority as representative of the majority. These people, whether Pagans or not, whether reconstructionists or Wiccans, or anyone else, who sit behind their keyboards on the Internet, spewing self-righteous vitriol and condemnation, lamenting the lack of action over this endemic issue while offering absolutely no reasonable alternatives and no initiative established to work against these ideologies are the people who I am critiquing.”
My thoughts- I admit as a non-Heathen (ADF Druid) I’ve been guilty of meddling in the affairs of Heathens- when I belonged to HUAR on Facebook, it seemed there was a core of urban, educated activists that were much too rigid about expecting everyone to be on board with highly academic social justice theories when people of all kinds of backgrounds came in being concerned about racism in Heathenry, they had their heads bitten off if they didn’t “fall in line”. As a Druid, I very much value the sovereignty of distinct communities and cultures and believe that change needs to come from within them. This is a value many other Pagans hold as well, but it seems to get lost when they become to set on forcing people into a metaphorical tent or umbrella that they don’t want to be in. It’s more like a big system of Venn diagrams- the Troth overlaps somewhat with the hippie core of Neo=Pagandom, even based on some of the founders like Diana Paxson. The AFA, not so much. That’s fine. Freedom of association is a thing. Make no mistake, I am definitely opposed to racism and all other forms of oppression. But I need to focus on cleaning up the dog-poop in my own backyard.
OK, after much fussing and dithering, I finally posted a new one for my Witches & Pagans blog-
Check it out and please comment- I am curious to hear about other folks’ experiences regarding independent/interdependent living and how that affects their spiritual freedom.
Pagan Devotionals– by Thalassa Contributions welcome!
Pagan Prayers– 1913 collection by Marah Ellis Ryan
Rev. Jen Avende’s Prayers & Invocations (you can write to request one from her)
Oaken Scrolls by Melia Brokaw
Fieldstones– To the Gods of Gaul & the British Isles
Underflow– To the Theoi
Hearth & Field– To the Heathen Gods
Wyrd Words Blog- Prayers by Xander Folmer (Odin, Tyr, Thor, Njord & Skadi)