Autism Speaks Resource Toolkit

One of the main aspects of my activism has been spreading awareness (to steal their term) of how horrible Autism Speaks is as they are the main organization that people think of when it comes to autism and also a hate group. As I’ve been doing this for three years now I have amassed multiple resources including my own writing to cover the problems with them.

I asked on my page An Articulate Autistic if people would be interested in resources to also become better activists and advocates against the organization which has been screwing us over for the past twelve years and the answer was a resounding yes so I thought I would make it…and then completely blanked on it for probably months.

This collection isn’t just a dump of links (though I do have an aggregate of many links in here), but organized in argumentative points to better equip you to articulate issues.

Better much late than never, here they are:

First my writing (with what they are as they’re different styles for different purposes):

  • You See A Puzzle Piece was a poem-esque thing that I wrote before I started on the old blog was originally a Facebook note/mental allergic reaction to seeing a plaque in an old job, it’s what comes to my mind when I see the symbol
  • You Have The Choice was my nice Autism Acceptance article from last April asking people to choose acceptance.
  • A Red Rage #RedInstead was my article this year demanding people to accept us because acceptance of our humanity shouldn’t be a choice but a moral obligation (note on language: Autism Awareness Month is what A$ calls April it’s pretty much their main fundraiser. In response autistics have created multiple Autism Acceptance Month movements, including #RedInstead. I started wearing red shirts and shoes for Acceptance the whole of last April [2016] and it’s become my aesthetic).
  • Please Don’t Support Autism $peaks was a letter I wrote to a sorority that has become an aggregate for links. While it has the stuff that I’m linking in here its main design was to overwhelm with a total of 20 links from various sources (autistics, autistic mothers of autistic children, allistic mothers of autistic children, and The Daily Beast along with various others), it wasn’t really meant to be read as much as show there’s a lot of people, I’m putting my favorite ones in here.
  • Why You Should Not Support Autism Speaks is a persuasive essay I did for my class for teaching writing, I linked the sources of information within the essay like I would with an article in the doc, it’s definitely more professional and it does do something others don’t, give a fair mention of the arguments that the opposition would make. I don’t usually do that because thinking about the arguments people make to support a hate group kinda hurts and they’re wrong and don’t deserve my time in articles.

Now for the other useful tools:

  • Honestly, this is one that shouldn’t be arguable, their horrific I Am Autism ad. I share the transcript because I have sensory processing issues and I couldn’t handle the stalkerish voice from the perspective of autism saying horrible stuff about us. Read at your own risk, it’s…really bad.
  • The main therapy that A$ supports is Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA. It’s also utterly terrible, designed to make us look allistic by forcing us to suppress behaviors that are coping mechanisms. Julia Bascom wrote her perspective from going through it in Quiet Hands (with the haunting line “And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy) and my friend at Ink & Daggers Illustration wrote this view from the perspective of an ABA therapist which I call by the first line “First time I hurt a child”. It’s also the main therapy which is why you’ll get “Not my ABA” apologists. The thing is, as this article Screams, Slaps, and Love shows, it’s the original form (the article is as bad as you would think an article with slaps and love regarding autism would be, but it’s about the creator of it). There’s a form of it that many have called “diet ABA” which only has positive reinforcement but as this picture shows it’s still dog training if you just use treats to reinforce behaviors that might harm us (stimming is a coping mechanism and eye contact takes focus away from me and hurts others) instead of using a spray bottle and treats (spray bottle is actually used and the treats are skittles when it’s humans). This is an autistic reading of The ME Book which is the original manual…this is real ABA.
  • They use a blue puzzle piece as their symbol, they weren’t the original to use it for autism so Why you need to stop using the puzzle piece to represent autistic people is useful for the history and why it’s a problem and their blue is because blue is for boys and only boys get autism, which isn’t true at all. According to this, the diagnosis rate is currently 1 in 45 and 75% of the diagnoses are male, which is solely due to diagnostic criteria problems and societal misconceptions, the latter of which isn’t helped by the fact that the main organization reinforces this myth with their color scheme. You See A Puzzle Piece was my mental allergic reaction to seeing it in the break room at Sprouts (one of the 24 corporations that donate yearly to A$)
  • This is a handy printable flyer showing their financials (as I said in the article about those, “This year, they spent 39% of their funding on advertising and lobbying for more money, 24% on fundraising, and 3% on family services. This is 21 times as much trying to get money by ads, fundraising, and lobbying than how much they spend on actually helping people”) and various important details about why they’re a problem.
  • From other bloggers, the Caffeinated Autistic made this bulleted masterpost and Radical Neurodivergence Speaking wrote this beautiful Autism Awareness piece I’m aware of your hate.
  • Most people have major issues with Nazis and would regard organizations as suspect if they would allow them at their fundraisers…which isn’t a common situation, but was the case with an A$ fundraiser in Canada which was going to let the Soldiers of Odin walk until multiple people called them out on it. They responded saying they would look into it, which honestly considering the first article that pops up is this Wikipedia article calling them an “anti-immigrant street patrol group” it should have been rather easy to look it up beforehand. However, no autistic activist I know was surprised…Nazis and A$ both hate autistic/disabled people, so they’re natural allies.

They have the advantage in every single way, but something we do have is our voices. So please boost ours and speak against them.

If you like this and want to support me this is my PayPal and my Patreon which you’ll get rewards from my writing about mythology taking back the modern world about. I wouldn’t ask this here if my car, phone, computer, and bike weren’t all taking a dive and I don’t have a job or source of income to pay for them.

From The Ashes: Week 2 update

Original article: please read and share, will have links to updates as they’re posted

Update One

Important information:

There are currently 12 active fires in California (the main one affecting my area is 94% contained and 36,807 acres)

There are now 42 people dead from the fires, 23 of which are from my area

6768 structures have been destroyed

Important fundraisers if you can help: My friend’s farm could still use helpthe city of Santa Rosa has a fundraisermy old school (which the pheonix is mascot for) could use donations on their page, and a reservation has opened its doors to many evacuees and is trying to build tiny houses purchase camping equipment and other things to be a better shelter


Blue Phoenix (Anova's mascot is now going to be a phoenix and their color is blue, however they are getting a logo designed by someone connected to Disney not this from Google

Blue Phoenix (Anova’s mascot is now going to be a phoenix and their color is blue, however they are getting a logo designed by someone connected to Disney not this from Google)

“The school was lost in the fire but the ‘real school’ is alive and well.”

Words from a teacher’s email the day of the fire when I asked if they were ok

 

Last update I focused on the negatives of my old school being destroyed.

This last week has changed my perceptions of everything regarding it and its future though.

On Tuesday night I attended a meeting about the future of the school where all the parents, students, and staff attended to hear the administration team tell us where the school was going from here on. I was somewhat proud to hear that the administration team was already looking for places to start classes up until the old campus is rebuilt. They also said that donations to the Gofundme or on their site (Gofundme takes a cut, direct donations won’t) will be used not for insurance but things you can see, like a library, a playground (which they were working on), a gym (something we’ve never had), all the things that normal schools have that Anova never did.

However, the thing that made me realize that what my teacher said was true wasn’t the meeting but a dance. Friday night was a dance which was the first time the teachers and students got together since the fire and seeing what was happening made my heart soar. All of the people who made the school great were there, dancing and celebrating being together. It was as if nothing had happened, the people not affected by the fires which destroyed the school and so many lives.

My old teacher was right. The campus was just a building, a container for people to be in. What made Anova Anova is still here, the people who made it a wonderful place that helps us. As long as the people exist, nothing will stop the school from rising from the ashes.

Adaptability and Uncertainty: 1st update on the Santa Rosa fires, 1 week after

(I’ve decided that I would do weekly updates on the fire’s effects so people know what’s going on from a personal perspective not just the news one, both providing data and my own experiences. If you’re interested in following you can subscribe to the blog by putting your email in the sidebar on the left)

 

Original article: please read and share, will have links to updates as they’re posted

Important information:

Total fires in California as of now: 28, 16 of which are 100% contained (none of the ones near me are yet, the main one affecting the people I care about, the Tubbs fire, is now 36,432 acres and 75% contained)

Death toll is now 41 in Northern California, with 88 people still missing.

As of 4 days ago, Santa Rosa (city that has been destroyed) has lost 2,834 homes and 400,010 square feet of commercial space.

Important fundraisers if you can help: My friend’s farm could still use help, the city of Santa Rosa has a fundraiser, my old school (the picture) has a fundraiser to help rebuild, and a reservation has opened its doors to many evacuees and is trying to build tiny houses purchase camping equipment and other things to be a better shelter


 

The school for autistics that I went to and plan on teaching at with a picture of students in front next to what the school looks like now.

“We all fall down and we get right back up again”

Broken English, Rise Against

Life in my city has altered radically in large and small ways.

The small ways are things like how small talk now includes “is your family ok” as a common question, more common emergency vehicles, and now only smoke in the distance if you look hard.

The large ways are how there are multiple places that have converted to shelters (4 that I know of, I’ve volunteered at three), and seeing the places which I knew and was familiar with converted into temporary homes and donation centers for survivors.

In the original This is our time: Thoughts on How People Respond to Disasters, I said that after natural disasters is when the best and worst of humanity is shown, when people can show who they truly are.

In the wake of the fires, my county has shown to be downright amazing.

Multiple donation centers are at full capacity, unable to hold anything else because so many people donated. At the Elks Lodge where I used to have Scout meetings, there was a huge dinner for people after we volunteered, with food that my mom recognized as coming from a family owned restaurant locally. When I volunteered at the fairgrounds (a weird experience in itself, a place that I’m used to having rides and animals becoming a massive center where trucks full of donations and many people are located), I helped unload a truck full of donated food (including far too much bread). There were bagged lunches that people had put together for survivors, many of which had messages drawn on them telling survivors to “stay strong” and many other things on the bags that were telling the evacuees they were cared about. It’s amazing how my county has adapted everything to fit the need of supporting those in need. I saw people I haven’t seen in ages volunteering, people from my Scout Troop (I got my Eagle Scout 8 years ago and turned 18 [when you can’t be a Scout any longer] 6 years ago) and old classes. The people here have fallen in a lot of ways but managed to come right back up in a new form designed to help each other.

It hasn’t been just the best of humanity here though…9 people have been arrested for trying to start new fires (5 individuals and a group of 4 teens) in the areas where the fires in North California (thank the Gods not just in my county), and I heard that some houses have jacked up in price to take advantage of the people who need homes.

However, with all this help…it’s all temporary. Eventually the fires will be out, and people will no longer be at the shelters, people have already gone back and seen their destroyed homes in places where the evacuation orders have lifted. As the picture shows, the school I went to is utterly destroyed, and tomorrow I’ll be going to a meeting about its future (which will be mentioned in the next update). It’s awesome seeing what is happening now but in the long term that’s when we’ll need you more. There’s a lot that’s still up in the air, we don’t know the exact damage, people don’t know if their homes are still here or not because they aren’t allowed to look yet, and it’s too soon to know what we’ll need. It’s only after the fires are out when we’ll know, and that’s when the news coverage will stop…please don’t stop paying attention then. We need you. I’m going to keep writing these updates so please subscribe, if enough people do I might ask others to share their stories of what they’re going through.

The struggle is going to go on for quite a while, whether or not you’re paying attention. For all those who have lost so much, I beg you to keep doing so.

This is Our Time…Again: Thoughts/a plea From Someone Going Through A Natural Disaster (with updates)

(With the goal of making it so people can follow what is happening, I’m going to make weekly updates with data about the fires and my own personal notes and put them at the end of this article, please subscribe on the left if you want to get them, if enough people do subscribe I’ll ask other people who were actually affected to give their stories as time goes on)

(The picture is of my friend’s and his family’s farm, their animals were evacuated but they need help so please click this, donate, and share along with/instead of the article [if you don’t want to share this, I want people to know what we’re dealing with but it’s not as important] , they need it)

My friend’s destroyed farm

“Neutrality means that you don’t really care

Cause the struggle goes on even when you’re not there

Blind and unaware.”

Collapse (Post-Amerika), Rise Against

When I started this article a couple of weeks ago, it was going to be very different.

It was going to be about Trump’s response to Puerto Rico, how he demeaned its leaders, said it wasn’t a “real tragedy” like Hurricane Katrina (the response to which inspired the rage in the first time I wrote on how people respond to natural disasters, This is Our Time, thought I would rewrite it after so many others were happening) because there were only 13 confirmed deaths (confirmed because death certificates take labor to do that a destroyed island can’t really do), and capped it off with saying he had fun, how he donated $1 million to help Texas in the wake of Harvey which is nothing to him and how he paid 5 times as much to find Obama’s birth certificate which was basically just a racist dogwhistle.

That was before Monday, when I learned that a fire had started during the night that was ravaging the main city in my area, burning down a friend’s farm and another’s mom’s home that has all their stuff in it while they’re in Los Angeles and forced many people I care about including my godparents to evacuate.

There are now 22 fires ravaging California and 21 dead statewide, and the fire here is 29,800 acres, has destroyed 576 buildings and threatens 29,192 others, and has caused 5,000 people to evacuate from 20 shelters as of Tuesday night. While the fire itself is about 19 miles away, thanks to going to a school for autistics in the area (which was also destroyed) a lot of my old classmates, friends, and people I care about are in danger if not already affected.

From going to volunteer and seeing the devastation in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina for 6 years I have always felt connected to survivors of natural disasters.

I have watched as the country constantly fails them, with government programs consistently being terrible to the people who need it most and people as a whole sinking into apathy when the fires go out or the floods recede when they’re actually needed the most.

I became jaded and bitter as the same betrayal happened after each disaster, the Valley Fire in the county north of me, Katrina, Irma, Harvey, Maria…but now it’s my home and the people I care about.

I look out my window and see yellow light because the sun is being filtered through smoke that is said to be as far as San Francisco which is 47.6 miles away.

I’ve been breaking down crying off and on through the past three days, am now as I write this.

So instead of asking you to not forget flooding in Baton Rouge I’m asking (rather selfishly as other places are going through worse), to not forget us. We’re human beings as well that deserve your care even after the fires are out, especially because these are going to leave a scar on my state for many years to come. Part of me is expecting people to do what they always do and stop caring after the flames go out when we need people to help because that’s when we’ll actually be able to do anything, when the news decides that the fire was the pretty thing that was what actually mattered and moves on from us.

However, I’m begging you not to, to actually think of us as people who need and deserve help not just some spectacle to look at and turn away from like has happened over and over because we actually need you. Donate to my friend if you can there’s also this for the city of Santa Rosa, share articles about us and let people know, life is hell right now and the feeling that it’s going to go on with people ignoring it all like it they have in the past is only part of it.

CalFire for the fire here is this link, this is the fires in general throughout the state, and my friend has been updating this for information for locals.

I’m begging you not for myself because I’m safe for now but for those I care about don’t forget that we’re here and need help, the whole state pretty much, and that’s going to be the case for a while.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

“Now I know we’re gonna be alright”

Parts Per Million, Rise Against

One thing that you don’t realize happens when you’re watching from afar is what your community becomes. Yesterday I saw something amazing as I worked at shelters…donations from everywhere, people rallying together for those who need it, and it was beautiful. It’s not enough for the long term, but if it’s hell to see the suffering of people at least it’s awesome to see what people do to help those going through it. I’ve never been more proud of my city until now, as we’re not affected directly but have rallied around supporting people who have evacuated here…if that same spirit spreads to others, and everyone rallies around those in need, maybe we will in fact be alright.

Updates:

Update 1: Adaptability and Uncertainty

Update 2: From the Ashes

Redefining Revolution: Fighting as a Marginalized Person in a Trump Presidency

“Are you going to wait here for a sign to let you know now?
Are you going to sit there paralyzed by what you’ve seen?
Or are you going to finally grip the wheel?
(I think you know how)
Is this more than you expected it to be?
Don’t wait for a miracle to tumble from the sky
To part the seas around you or turn water into wine
Don’t wait for a miracle, the world is passing by
The walls that all surround you are only in your mind”

Miracle, Rise Against

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde

Revolution is a word I see a lot recently as I get more involved with the leftist side of Facebook.

People talk about the various systems they’d replace the current system with after we overthrow it, hearkening to successful rebellions of other places and eras.

That being said, our fight is different, and in the interest of better fighting this system, I think it’s time we redefine what we consider a revolution.

One of the greatest problems I have with how we perceive revolutions is that we view it as solely a violent battle. Of course my issue isn’t with the violent aspect, right after the #DisruptJ20 protests I wrote On wings of fire and broken glass we shall rise as a war call.

My issue is that the reality is that, especially if you’re marginalized, this isn’t the only form of rebellion, and that focus is both harmful and counterproductive.

It’s harmful because it leads to a prioritization of tactics that many people, especially disabled people, can’t do (check out my article on the ableist notion of slacktivism for more talk of this issue). While I can write articles telling others that other tactics should matter, it doesn’t change that my internalized ableism makes me, and others, feel utterly useless when we look at things like Charlottesville (which was the center of my most recent article Why aren’t you upset?). In reality as a marginalized person, in the face of a system that hates you, Audre Lorde in the picture I chose is completely right, taking care of oneself, living, being happy, is in itself an act of revolution. It also ignores the fact that, especially with Cville, being obviously of a minority might be more likely to get you targeted (it shouldn’t be too hard to connect the dots that it would be much more dangerous to be a black person protesting a KKK rally than if you’re white…a good rule is to not criticize how a different minority does activism especially against their oppressors, there is almost definitely context you are missing that makes their fight different).

It’s counterproductive because there’s a lot more to a revolution than fighting especially in this era, and usually the physical war happens after a lot of work in other avenues, all of which are just as important when brought into a united whole. People decry Facebook activism but used well the internet is the best way to spread information and call people worldwide to action (I do agree it’s an issue when those who can do more choose not to, the ones who do token activism to make themselves feel good like an online equivalent of the safety pin [so glad those are gone], that being said the internet has been the way the autistic community exists, how I’m reaching you, and has been a key component in other activist movements such as the Arab Spring). Outreach, organizing rallies of our own, having social programs to help people so they can see who we are and will hopefully join our cause, even just tactically directed conversations around the dinner table urging discussion into radicalizing people are all important methods for fighting the system.

The other issue is that we depict the revolution as this mythical future event. People say the revolution will be intersectional for instance (intersectionality is an important activist principle which I wrote about here). A particular brand of leftist that I hate, class reductionists, say that the only fight that matters is class war and after the revolution they’ll care about the concerns of minorities (sure, we’ll be dying until then but it’s great to know that eventually our lives will matter).

The revolution won’t be anything because our fight is now, the constant struggle against the oppressive forces that are controlling us is the revolution, the fight against the system of oppression that has always existed

The system is something that we need to fight now. We need to move not wait for some sign to let us know now is the time to fight. Get active, get involved, speak out. There’s never going to be a sign that let’s us know that the revolution against the forces controlling us has started because the long war with its wins and losses, alliances and enemies, has never stopped.

The revolution shouldn’t be considered a future bloody battle but the multifaceted war against oppression that has been a background in our nation’s history. It’s the combination of tactics and ideologies that we’ve had moving us forward through history, fought not by soldiers but by MLK and the trans women of color who threw bricks at Stonewall and the disability rights movement and anyone who has said that this system is wrong and we need to do something about it. It’s not something to be solely fought with guns but also speeches and blogs and thrown bricks and counterprotests and food drives and any action done in the spirit of seeking to bring change to the many intersecting injustices that have harmed people for so long.

The time is now to participate in this fight, to learn from our victories and losses and move forward despite the rising forces that are paralyzing us.

The fight is ours to take part in. Will you rise to the battle?

Why aren’t you upset?

“If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.”

Last Facebook post of Heather Heyer

Memorial to Heather Heyer who died at age 32 yesterday. She died and 19 others who were counterprotesting the Unite The Right rally were injured when James Alex Fields Jr. rammed his car into them for standing up to their hatred. Fight in her name.

(I’m dedicating this post to my friends and comrades protesting the rally, if you can spare money please donate to support logistics, the street medics, or the legal fund, they deserve our support.)

One of the things I recently was told that a friend stopped reading my stuff because it wasn’t “happy.”

Hell no, it’s not.

But I feel a profound disconnect with anyone who needs something to be “happy” to listen to it.

Because, well…welcome to 2017.

Or the US in general to be honest.

We live in a system built on oppression. Trump didn’t create hatred he simply brought it to an unprecedented high, using his office to deconstruct the protections we have and encourage bigoted acts by validating hatred with his voice and power. The Nazis and the KKK that we see didn’t start to exist at the beginning of his campaign they’re just emboldened to step into the spotlight.

Now, of course, it’s getting even worse, with the KKK now walking brazenly without hoods (the problem with doing that is that then people can share the faces that you decided to show everyone to let people to know you’re evil…feel free to click the link and share, and if you’re going to protest mask up so they can’t do the same) and driving into the crowds protesting them with the aim to kill people solely for dissenting against their hatred.

The world is and has always been hell for a lot of people, and that is a problem.

It’s not happy, it’s not good, but we should be facing it…if you have the choice not to.

In my formative years I felt like something was wrong with me and how I exist, now I know that the world is the problem not my brain, that the world is screwed up and needs to be fixed.

I never had the choice to think that everything is moral in this place and so realizing that this world is screwed and doing what I can to make it better is all I know.

The rest of you who aren’t faced by some form of hatred for something intrinsic to your existence, you have the choice to pretend the world is perfect.

However, the only moral thing is to do the opposite.

In the face of such grave injustices you should be enraged. You should stand up and fight the forces hurting and killing your fellow humans because it’s obviously something that we need to fight. You shouldn’t be clinging to your happiness by ignoring the reality of other people suffering but should use your voice to call attention to it.

To do otherwise, to stand by and let hatred happen, is wrong.

To get pissed off at us who are calling attention to it for disrupting your happy day instead of getting upset at murderers is all kinds of screwed up.

I’m not going to apologize for rubbing your nose in the system’s hatred. I’m going to stand up and demand you acknowledge the world around you.

And if you refuse I’ll know that you’re not someone I can trust, because in this era not paying attention is deadly.

It’s because people clung to their apathy that we got in this mess. As I mentioned in this post on my Facebook page An Articulate Autistic, hatred festers if unchallenged, and when you’re literally getting upset with people for mentioning the existence of hatred you’re actively hindering the efforts to challenge it.

If more people listened to Heather, if more people stood and fought this before the election, we wouldn’t be here. They wouldn’t feel welcome to do this huge festival of hatred.

But we’re here now and now it’s necessary, not just moral but needed, to stand and fight now before even more deaths happen.

Pay attention, get outraged, don’t let her die in vain.

You’re Not As Important As You Think: on “Being Divisive”

Remember folks: If you don’t hold your oppressor’s hand while softly explaining to them things they could just as easily google and maybe make them some cocoa to help them feel comfortable learning about your lived struggles, you’re just a big ol’ meany who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person.

Remember folks: If you don’t hold your oppressor’s hand while softly explaining to them things they could just as easily google and maybe make them some cocoa to help them feel comfortable learning about your lived struggles, you’re just a big ol’ meany who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person.

“Like a fire
Don’t need water
Like a riot
Don’t need order

We don’t need them”

Red Flag, Billy Talent

If you’ve followed me since the beginning, you’ve probably noticed that the most common topic is allies I don’t want. I’ve said I don’t want allies who can say they care about Trump, allies who can be turned away by us not being nice, conditional allies, or performative allies.

A common accusation that people get is that people who have my particular tone including many of my friends are “being divisive”.

In the radical leftist side of Facebook (known as “Leftbook” by those of us involved in it), a popular accusation when minority activists speak out is “you’re dividing the Left”.

I find this accusation humorous because not only do I know I’m being divisive, it’s deliberate and a core of my activist practice.

As I touched on in By Our Side or Out of Our Way, I used to be nice in the old blog I was part of before Trump was elected.

I sought to reach out and change minds.

Nowadays, I have come to realize that in this burning world if what’s happening isn’t enough to make you steadfast against oppression, you’re not going to ever really change.  This regime is getting more and more oppressive and decent people will stand against it and by our side believing we deserve to live without investment of labor. I don’t have spoons to invest labor in presenting myself a certain way and nurture people, if the fact that people want to hurt people like myself just because of aspects of our humanity won’t move you to action I can’t trust that you will help me when I need it the most.

My goal now isn’t to reach out to people but to push people away. I need to know who I can trust, and that means seeing who can be moved from caring about my life.

There are a lot of people who tell us that we should be nicer if we want more allies…but my question is why would we want people who would require us to police our language around them, censor and watch our words when we’re in hell?

There are so many people who claim the title of ally and expect it to matter (to the point where we have created the term accomplice instead of ally to be more specific in what we want) to us that anyone who says they are one honestly makes me skeptical.

I need to know who is willing to help and stand by me and mine and who will ditch us when they don’t feel fulfilled. The only way to do that for me is to be hard and challenging in my words and actions so that people need to confront themselves and realize that they are doing wrong and this system is something that they need to be fighting or that I am the problem and they need to stop helping me.

I’m not creating division but exposing divisions of values and commitments. If these people can be turned from thinking I’m a human who deserves help, they never truly believed that. Believing that we deserve rights should be a matter of morality not comfort. My goal is to shake things up, expose who people truly are, and that ends up polarizing and angering people because they don’t like being called out on harmful behaviors or can’t handle me saying that their feelings aren’t actually the most important thing in the world. I’m not the one who is breaking people apart in their ideals, I’m exposing divisions that are already there.

I don’t need everyone and nobody is extremely important to have when the net result of them being here is going to be a drain on my sanity trying to make myself presentable enough to keep them around. People I know and love are suffering and I refuse to prioritize anybody else’s feelings over them. I’m not going to be nice all the time to people who have the luxury of being able to just ignore the reality of what is going on with the world because I frankly don’t trust anyone who is willing to look away from the horror that is happening and say that if they’re going to stand by my side against it I need to be nice to make them feel like there’s a reason to fight, who requires more than the fact that people are suffering and dying to do anything.

When people are suffering from oppression it’s a moral imperative to stand strong and say that is wrong. When the government is doing things that are going to kill innocents, you fight back. You tell yourself this is wrong, you do what you can, which if you’re one of the people who are suffering might just be existing and living, which is huge if a system wants you gone. But if you aren’t you should be doing what you can to help because you know in your heart that it is immoral that the system that makes it so you don’t have to worry about what is happening is making others suffer. We are fighting, rioting because it’s the only language that has ever been heard, rising on wings of fire and broken glass to burn this corrupt order to the ground, and if the way we are fighting, the way we have to fight, is too much for you, we don’t need you. Turn your nose and roll your eyes, complain about our tone and get offended by how we aren’t making sure to exclude you from our venting or following the rules of what you think is acceptable rebellion, I frankly care not, you aren’t important compared to the threats against us and my fellow strugglers. But if you know in your heart that this is wrong and will stand by our side unconditionally, use your voice to carry our own, I’m glad to have you by my side.

The choice is yours, the division between action and inaction not created by me but by your own morality.

Make the right one.

Whose freedom?: Ruminations on “Independence Day”

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.
-Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

“State of the Union address
Reads war torn country still a mess
The words power death and distorted truth
Are read between the lines of the red white and blue”

State of the Union, Rise Against

I used to have a tradition of sharing a song with the bridge “I’m proud and ashamed every fourth of July, you’ve got to know the truth before you say that you’ve got pride.”

Today, I’m feeling like actually understanding the truth of the situation we’re in now and being proud are mutually exclusive.

I was reading ‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’ by Frederick Douglass, and while obviously the current situation in the US for myself isn’t close to that horror, I can’t help but identify with this feeling that considering this as a day of great freedom is mockery.

I’m currently listening to people light fireworks for “Independence Day”, but I live in California which has the highest amount of prisoners in a country which has the most people in prison around the globe. They aren’t free.

I have friends who are broke and are worrying about homelessness because the system is set up to make it so people like them can’t get ahead no matter how hard they try. They aren’t free.

I know many people who can’t come out as who they really are for fear of being ostracized by their families and communities, possibly having their lives at risk. They aren’t free.

There are people who came from Mexico seeking a better life because US interference screwed with their country, who aren’t doing anything harmful to anyone just trying to survive, being likened to rapists and murderers and under threat of being sent home by ICE. They aren’t free.

There are trans people in multiple states which can’t go into bathrooms matching their gender, something which has actual harm. They aren’t free.

Black people know that the cops who are supposedly there to serve and protect us are quite likely to kill or unfairly target them based simply on skin color. They aren’t free.

There are many people including myself who see this recent failure of the AHCA simply a stay in execution because the last time it failed it came back even worse and we know that when it does pass many of us are going to die. That’s not freedom.

Who’s truly free? Well, I do feel that the Founding Fathers did succeed in gaining independence for their people…meaning fellow rich white men, because they are still in full control.

So…how the hell can we celebrate independence when so many of us are in chains from systemic threats to our lives simply because of our existence?

How is it right to be upset with people who don’t respond to your saying “Happy 4th of July” with similar joy when their lives or the lives of their loved ones are in some way controlled?

The reality is that many of us never have been and are sure as hell not right now free. We are trapped in situations beyond our control not because of our actions but for how we dared to be born.

I’m not going to condemn you for your cookouts or family gatherings, Gods know we barely get enough of those.

But I am going to say this:

If freedom is so important to you that you’re going to devote a day to celebrating it, remember that there are so many who don’t have it…and fight so that they do.

If that’s the ideal that you think America is all about, then get active to make it so others have it.

Make it more than just a cookout that rubs our reality in our faces, try to make it mean something.

Because we live a constant battle, and if you don’t and you have told someone happy Independence Day, want to believe in freedom, then you shouldn’t be content with the country chaining so many of us, and should fight to make this world different.

When we fight until more people are free maybe then it will be fine to celebrate a day of independence, until then let’s work to make it so.

It’s Not About You: On Performative Allyship

various "ally cookies" with frosting saying various minor actions that people do and think that they deserve congrats for, like "not a racist", "has a gay friend", and "meets minimum standards of decent human"

various “ally cookies” with frosting saying various minor actions that people do and think that they deserve congrats for, like “not a racist”, “has a gay friend”, and “meets minimum standards of decent human”, with “Good for you. Want a cookie?” on the bottom and under that someone replying “Ahhh, I love these so much.”

“Your actions speak so loud I can’t hear a word you’re saying”

I Want to Conquer the World, Bad Religion

I have written on how allies shouldn’t expect us to be nice in By our side or out of our way and how the very concept of expecting such is screwed up in Refuting Respectability.

But probably the most exhausting type of allies are the performative ones.

Performative allies are the ones who want to be applauded for their actions of being an ally.

They’re the ones with safety pin profile pictures, make these aesthetically atrocious straight pride flags (this looks like prison bars, which is where the maker of this flag belongs for designing this and co-opting marginalized people creating pride flags to make themselves seem marginalized, I explained why pride for being a minority is different from pride in being a majority in Rebellious Joy), try to claim the A for ally not asexuals like myself in LTBTQIA (yes, historically it did mean that to include closeted people, but the allies who say that now feel like they are doing such great service that they should be included in the acronym that is supposed to be for marginalized people).

And while this might be a bit of a controversial take, if you asked me which was more of a drain on my mental faculties in this era, the fascists or them, I’d pick the latter.

All of my focus is on the people who are also suffering, my fellow Outcast.

It’s not on being nice to others, and performative allies come to me and demand additional labor and get upset when we don’t appreciate their performance, call us mean when we don’t acknowledge their words.

And honestly, that’s really all these “allies” give.

Performative allies expect great commendation for minimal labor.

If you wear a shirt or a pin, decide to make our venting against our oppressor centered around you (cis person saying “cis people suck/I suck/I’m sorry for those cis people”, for example. When we’re saying it it’s us venting usually because we were screwed over in some way [and if us not being nice all the time turns you off here’s an article on why that’s screwed up], when you’re doing it it’s just trying to get cookies), or do other things of this nature which require barely anything at all, the amount of work you do (or lack thereof) is going to be noticed and we couldn’t care less about which line you’re regurgitating (hence the song quote).

 Ally shouldn’t be a noun you hold like a personality trait, something that you call yourself, but should show through your actions. Don’t try to show us what a great person you are, support and center us. Listen to what we’re saying, if it jars you, challenges what you considered true in your worldview, listen and analyze that. Use what you’ve learned to call out your own community, taking advantage of the fact that it’s not an attack on you which makes it so it’s much easier for you to handle.

Your allyship shouldn’t be conditional on praise but based on believing we deserve to live free of hatred and systemic bigotry. You shouldn’t be looking to us for praise every step of the way, cluttering threads with telling us that you’re trash (…we know, validated by the fact that you decided you needed to come here in the first place), but should be finding places where you can help. You shouldn’t be putting into focus your opinions on issues that face us but trying to make it so our voices are heard about our experiences. You should be supporting us not the other way around.

If you come to us trying to perform and get attention, don’t be surprised if you get the reaction you deserve not the one you desire. Lives are on the line, and I don’t have the ability to commend you for your mediocre actions when I’m barely keeping myself alive. Any true “ally” would realize that.

Your Time is Now: a Call to Activism

If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive. - Audre Lorde

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. – Audre Lorde

“Now, the time is now
We can still turn it around
Raise your voice like a weapon
Til they fall to the ground

Light, let there be light
Without a shadow of doubt
We will fight tooth and nail until
Salvation is found”

Viking Death March, Billy Talent

I usually write articles from a lens of anger, calling out harmful acts, telling allies who aren’t being screwed over things that I feel are wrong and that I see them if they keep doing them.

This isn’t that.

This time I want to call to my fellow strugglers.

I know you’re suffering and every day is a new barrage of darkness.

I know the world is crushing you and hates you for what you are.

You may feel powerless, unable to do anything.

But you’re more powerful than you know.

No you can’t stop Trump on your own, can’t somehow control his cabinet and Congress with a wave of your hand.

But under a regime that wants us gone, who is seeking to pass the AHCA that is pretty much designed to kill us (I explained how it’s not a stretch to say that it’s meant to kill us and is genocide in Pick a side), when the Nazis want us gone, our fight to exist is an act of great power itself.

You might think that you are unimportant and don’t deserve to be heard.

No matter what has been ingrained in your mind, you’re wrong, your fight is important and your voice and experience matter.

You’re reading my voice (probably) because of that, and I’m a 23 year old jobless college student. (trying to hopefully make money through his Patreon).

What makes us important is that we’re fighting against a system that wants us dead that people are accepting as normal, helped by a media which always focuses on the things that affect the majority over the issues that specifically harm us.

This has always been true, but now more than ever it’s needed.

In the face of this system which wants to crush us we need to stand up.

When the media and the majority will pretend that anything not affecting them isn’t happening we need to step up and speak out, become unable to be ignored.

We can’t let them control our narrative, not when so much more is at stake, not when it seems like each day our lives are more in danger.

This is your time to speak out. We need to raise our voices to cut through the noise, force people to realize it’s not alright, that we are suffering and won’t accept it.

Do what you can, take care of yourself, but act.

We may not have the money they do, the privilege they do, but we have things they don’t.

We vastly outnumber them, and while they have had everything given to them we have needed to fight every step of the way to simply exist.

We wouldn’t be alive if we weren’t able to fight. You might want to wait until a better time, but to quote a wonderful friend, It Doesn’t Get Better. You Do.

We have numbers but those numbers don’t matter if we let them keep us down.

Is this easy? No.

Is this a mindset that you’re a bad person if you can’t keep up all the time? Absolutely not, I feel sometimes like I’m barely clinging on.

Will we accomplish anything? I feel like we are taught to value big acts but in reality this is a fight in people’s minds, and thus every share every person who hears us is someone who has changed, and when you add that up it’s a lot…if you speak up.

Isn’t it difficult to start up a blog (if this is the type of speaking out you want to do)? My goal with this platform was to make it a place where any of our voices could be heard, I would only need your email and name to add you to this (message me at Garrett Winters and I can easily set you up with an account on here…this platform does have ads, when the balance gets to where the money actually will deposit I plan on dividing the revenue equally between writers…I can’t pay you per article but it would be something).

We need to fight no matter the difficulty, to get back on when we can, because the only alternative is to let them get what they want unhindered.

And when what they want is us dead, there’s no choice at all.