The Autistic Journalist

Using words to explain the mind

Archive for the ‘mixed race’ Category

Mixed race and autism go hand in hand again

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Happy Independence Day for all you American readers out there!mcclogo A

I began the holiday weekend by going on the mic. The Mixed Chicks Chat podcast had an opening yesterday and I had approached them about appearing to talk about my mixed race documentary that was released in February. We set up the chat earlier in the week and the show went without a hitch.

Fortunately, I also went without a major hitch. I never ask anyone to submit their questions to me ahead of time because it runs the risk of coming off as fake or rehearsed, but my hunch about what I would get asked was right. Most of the episode focused on my documentary, including what got me interested in the subject and why I feel so strongly about sharing the stories of the mixed race community. This was the first show where I really didn’t pay much attention to the chat window, in part because I would have been distracted trying to talk and read what others were saying simultaneously (which probably cut the chat conversation in half; I’m one of their chattier listeners).

The other subject I expected to talk about came somewhat unexpectedly. I had mentioned my exploits with autism before on the show, but didn’t know how much the hosts really got into it. About midway through the show, they hinted me on what they wanted to get out of me, which meant I shared my autism diagnosis with listeners. We didn’t talk about it for too long, but as I’ve discussed before, autism is one reason why I feel a connection with other aspects of social justice. Even though I’m not mixed and didn’t understand multiracial identity well until college, both of our communities share the struggle of feeling exploited at times because we have a characteristic that easily separates us from others. I can’t speak for them, but after attending a social justice retreat a couple years ago, I found myself exploring social justic topics more often to hopefully get past surface questions. Whether it’s “What Are You?” for multiracial people or “What do you think?” for autistics, you can only get so far by asking the obvious questions. It helps to have hosts know exactly what you’re going through.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I developed a good repertoire with the hosts and listeners. Some people love to hate journalists like me because we occasionally do things to make others uncomfortable (otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs), but they liked that I tackled the topic of mixed race and autism before that without any personal agenda attached. It’s hard to learn much if you don’t let your subjects tell the story. I think my interview also gave the hosts and listeners who I’ve connected with a chance to learn about me. I’d definitely go on again if I get the chance.

If you haven’t listened to Mixed Chicks Chat before, I’d recommend doing so. Fanshen and Heidi are fluid hosts who love what they do for social justice and aren’t afraid to listen to anyone who’s willing to listen back. I can’t guarantee they’ll make you look good if that’s your cup of tea, but if you want to learn something, listen to their podcasts.

You can listen to my interview in full here and learn more about Mixed Chicks Chat here.

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Written by TheSportsBrain

July 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Mixed race with a dash of autism

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I unfortunately cannot attend because I’ll be working heavily this weekend, but a condensed version of my multiracial documentary will be screened at the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival on Friday in downtown Los Angeles. You can check out the festivities at www.mxroots.org or sign up and head there yourself if you’re in the area.

The focus will obviously be on the mixed race population, but depending on the turnout, I hope people are interested enough where they’ll watch the full-length version and maybe even watch my autism stories. Interestingly enough, one family of an autistic child I interviewed during the series has a multiracial background. Their kids are a little young to share their story for now, but perhaps fate set me up to mix the two communities together.

It will be hard to know how my documentary is received, but I hope people learn a thing or two about mixed race in Minnesota. I may live in flyover country, but we’re not immune to social issues often relegated to the big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.

Written by TheSportsBrain

June 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Posted in documentary, mixed race

A long way to go.

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Iofficial_portrait_of_barack_obamat’s the view I have regarding recognition and acceptance with the autism community. I’ll delve into that further as April approaches (April is autism awareness month).

That doesn’t mean other sociological topics are in the clear. I read an article from the Associated Press published in the Star Tribune (sad to see that paper fall apart) reporting that racial stereotypes, falsehoods that were debunked long ago and general disdain toward Obama because of his race.

The reporter says Obama will likely continue to face pressure from stereotypes and viral myths, even though he was quoted saying people are judging him on his track record. However, exit polls from the 2008 election said 17 percent of all voters considered race as a factor in voting, and two out of three in that group voted for McCain.

A fellow blogger has posted some racial stereotyping taking place since Obama was elected.

I don’t discuss politics too much because I know it can fuel a lot of unneccessary fires, but Obama’s response mirrors how he handled race during the campaign: he acknowledged it but didn’t rest on it. Obama isn’t afraid to discuss race, but in his mind, there are more important issues to resolve before cultural barriers are tackled. It’s hard to disagree.

A few people in my multiracial documentary told me racism will never be completely eradicated. I feel the same way, especially with the racism coverage after Obama’s election and FOX News jumping on anything that could smear Obama before the election (then again, they would’ve done that no matter who the DFL candidate was). Some people (probably white) are unable to accept that “one of them” isn’t in the White House, that white privilege (rightfully) lost some of its power. Exit polls didn’t address this, but it would be curious to see how many McCain voters believed in the myths about Obama’s citizenship and religious background. I don’t think the percentage would be high, but it could reveal a few things.

Before you accuse me of being a DFL supporter, I’m not. This blog is meant to make people think about racism in the Obama era and how we still have problems despite electing an African-American biracial President and 40+ years after the Civil Rights Act was passed.

There are similar themes in the autism community regarding its perception and cause. Autism hasn’t been around long enough to associate too many stereotypes with the disability, but you’ll have to wait for my next post to hear my discussion on that.

Written by TheSportsBrain

March 30, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Two new exploits in one week…fascinating.

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I began a new feature for my YouTube channel to entertain my autism audience on YouTube, called Sixty Seconds on the Spectrum. Depending on how big a following I get, I hope to continue with it in the future to enlighten my viewers on things that I can’t address in the documentaries. I started with Rain Man, a film most people are familiar with, and I’ll move into other people, places or things affecting the autism community.

I’m also going to be a guest speaker for a lunch and learn event hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Disabled Student Cultural Center on Friday after class wraps up. The DSCC plans to show one of my autism documentaries followed by a discussion on how autism is still relevant in my life, just in different ways than 10 years ago. I’m not expecting a large audience simply because the room can’t hold too many people, but I’ve spread the word about the event in hopes of building networks between myself and other people and even among other people. I’ve told my story before to small audiences and am growing more comfortable with revealing some of my dark past, so my nerves are rather low.

However, I did have a first while listening to the Mixed Chicks Chat, at least as far as I can recall. A guest who is part of an organization helping mixed race children spoke about the identity issues most visitors talk about, one of them being constantly asked about identity (What are you…who’s white/black?, etc.). Since I came forward through the documentaries, I find myself drilled whenever I meet someone else affected by autism. Some also interrogate me through Facebook or YouTube. I understand their quest to learn about autism, but I wish people would see me as human. I’ve noticed a few parallels between my obstacles and the obstacles facing multiracial people, and I think that’s why multiracial identity has fascinated me for the last year.

Someday, my wish will be granted.

Written by TheSportsBrain

February 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Posted in autism, mixed race