The work we’ve done together to create All the Weight of Our Dreams is awesome — and there are folks out there who agree with us!
(The below are clips from their original articles. Click the titles to read the whole thing!)
29 March 2017
Here are a few books, films and shows that humanize folks with autism.
1. “All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism” — Autism Women’s Network
“For too long, we have whitewashed autism,” Emily Brooks tells Spectrum. ”This bad habit makes it all the more crucial to take in the artistic and written stories in “All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism.”
The anthology compiles the too often silenced voices of over 60 people of color living with autism around the world. As Brooks notes, their stories diversify mainstream narratives about what it means to be autistic. The accounts also highlight how ableism and racism collide to make these personal struggles even harder.
26 December 2016
For too long, we have whitewashed autism. This bad habit makes it all the more crucial to take in the artistic and written stories in “All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism.”
The anthology features contributions from more than 60 autistic people of color from seven countries. Published by the Autism Women’s Network, “All the Weight of Our Dreams” amplifies the voices of autistic people who are ignored or silenced, illuminates the impact of racism and ableism on experiences of being autistic, and broadens too-narrow media representations of autism. It is expected to be published early next year.
18 July 2016
VL: All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, an anthology of writing and artwork by autistic people of color, will be released this summer. You are the visionary and one of the lead editors of the project. How did the anthology come about?
LXZB: The vast majority of work put out by the autistic community and the broader neurodiversity movement is overwhelmingly white. This includes the founders of almost every autistic-led organization and the current leadership of most, as well as the majority of well-read blog posts and books coming from grassroots autistic activists. At most autistic events, it is rare to run into another autistic person of color, and it is problematic that a college-educated east asian with the last name “Brown” is often the only (or sometimes one of very few) person of color in an autistic-specific group or other disability event.
This constant unquestioned, unacknowledged erasure of autistic people of color, and public discourse about autism as essentially a “white people issue,” spurred me to instigate a new project—an anthology that would collect, uplift, and center the voices and experiences of those of us too often left out of the spaces that are supposedly for us. The anthology aims to serve two primary purposes: to raise public consciousness of our existence, politics, and art; and to offer some tangible evidence to others out there that they are not alone.
Set to be released over the summer, All the Weight of Our Dreams features both republished and new work from over 60 people, including children and elders, on topics ranging from mestiza identity to police violence, from disabled people’s movements to anti-Semitism, and from social anxiety to neurodivergent kinship. (We originally hoped the release would coincide with Autism Acceptance Day on April 2, but, ironically, ran into delays—proving that we really do run on Disabled Standard Time.) We are proud of our collective efforts, and excited about where we will go next! So far, in addition to the paperback and ebook set to come out soon, we plan to work next on producing an audiobook version that will feature at least some of the contributors reading their own work, as well as a Braille version.
I’m also personally excited to announce an Autistic People of Color Project aimed at collecting further funds to support autistic people of color in whatever endeavors might be useful—whether money for basic survival needs so often unavailable from other sources without paternalistic strings attached; scholarships to support education, internships, or conference attendance; or seed funding for new projects or campaigns. Right now, we have no money, but hopefully, that will change and the project will grow, providing one more concrete way for us to support one another.
17 May 2016
THERE ARE SIGNS, at least, that the issue is starting to get some serious attention, primarily due to the efforts of autistic self-advocates and their families. There are communities, as represented by the website, The Color of Autism that seek to highlight both the gap and the needs. This spring, a powerful anthology on autism and race called All the Weight of Our Dreams, edited by Lydia X. Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, will be published by the Autism Women’s Network. And the mainstream media is starting to raise the issue. Earlier this year, National Public Radio made a point of discussing the challenges for African-Americans diagnosed with autism as part of an investigation into the condition.
29 March 2016
EB: Fighting against the monolithic ideal of autism is not just about the spectrum and age, but also about race, class, gender, and sexuality. How different are autism stories at the intersections of other marginalized identities?
SS: That’s a very good question, but as a white, neurotypical, cisgender male, I’m not the best person to answer it. I’d like to refer your readers to a superb anthology coming out in April called All the Weight of Our Dreams (through the combined efforts of Lydia X.Z. Brown, Senior Editor; E. Ashkenazy, Project Manager and Editor; and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, Assistant Project Manager and Editor), about the intersections between autism and race. The authors talk about the complex pain of feeling excluded for being autistic from the same communities where they find support for being people of color. I hope this book finds a wide audience.
Recently, I was on a plane talking to a young black woman who worked in D.C. When I told her that I’d written a book about autism, she said, “Autism is a white-people thing, isn’t it?” I told her that there was a long history of minority communities not having access to the kinds of services that provide a diagnosis. I’ve heard those kinds of statements before. In a way, they’re an echo of the time when Kanner considered autism a psychological issue that disproportionately affected upper-middle-class families, rather than a developmental disability.
In All the Weight of Our Dreams, E. Ashkenazy writes, “Let’s say that an autistic person of color is being raised in a community and culture that generally tends to view disability as a weakness and embarrassment. This situation is very different from that of an autistic person growing up in a community where seeking a diagnosis and related services are viewed as necessary and proactive. Let’s say than another autistic person of color is a part of a culture that upholds strict expectations of how community members should behave both at home and in the community. This person will likely face more than just autism-related challenges. They might be expected to interpret, understand, and adhere to community roles and expectations that are usually subliminally picked up on in infancy and childhood. This situation can prove difficult for a number of autistic persons regardless of race or ethnicity.”
14 February 2015
The newest project comes from the Committee on Autism & Ethnicity as a way to highlight how the lives of individuals in multiple marginalized populations are affected on a daily basis.
The Autism and Race Anthology will be a collection of writings by autistic people of color. These writings will include personal experiences, ideas, hopes and other stories in their own words. With no formal structure of submissions, writings vary from prose to poetry depending on how people want their words to be heard. There has yet to be an anthology of this nature and this self-published work from the Autism Women’s Network hopes to start the conversation of how race impacts the lives of autistic individuals.
The editor of the project is Lydia Brown, also known as Autistic Hoya. Lydia is a well known activist and writer who focuses on looking at violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people. Other notable experience includes working with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, active president of the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective, and receiving an honor by the White House as a Champion of Change for disability rights. In addition to all the advocacy work, Lydia also is currently a student at Georgetown University.
Lydia notes the main leaders in the autistic rights and neurodiversity movement as well as those most well known for being autistic are all white. This unfortunately creates more of a stereotype of what autism is supposed to look like and does not take into account the myriad of ways race affects an individual. From diagnosis to supports available to how individuals are perceived by law enforcement, race does have an impact. Yet this topics has not been discussed by professionals in the field or explored in depth by researchers or organizations.
Corina Lynn Becker
12 September 2014
But AWN is working to publish an anthology on Autism and Race, and is looking for submissions, due November 14, 2014. If you are autistic, and a person of colour, racialized, or non-white, I encourage you to look at the AWN submission guide and consider submitting something.
This is a project lead by Lydia Brown, aka Autistic Hoya, who I don’t know about you, but is one of the people I’d immediately ask “how much do you want me to write, and when do you want it?” if not go scrambling to look for something I’ve already written.
But this is your choice. I understand either way.
What matters is you expressing yourself, your story, what you want to say about yourself as an autistic person and your life, what you want to tell other people, what you want to change about the world. This is about you communicating and gaining power through that, about providing an outlet, a starting point.
ASDay has been described as a blogging carnival, a festival of our “voices”, our passions and dreams. It is a celebration of who we are, a memorial of our scars, a scream of our struggles, a rallying cry to continue on for our rights. Because of the most powerful words “I am not alone”.
Intersectionality is how different aspects of our identities affect our experiences, sometimes in different ways in different situations. Like being a woman can be a privilege in one situation, or be a barrier in another, or being a person of colour, or being disabled, rich or poor, and so on.
The anthology matters because for too long has books and Autism materials about us been dominated by parents, professionals, and white people who do not represent all experiences of autistic people. I see it every time I walk into an Autism conference center and look at the book displays. How can we be “Nothing About Us, Without Us” without all of us being published, without all of us being represented?
It cannot happen.
Not without projects like the Autism and Race anthology.
8 September 2014
There is a quite a bit more understanding of autism in 2014 than there was in the ’80’s when I was a child. However, one thing that hasn’t changed much is that neither the public “face” not “voice” of autism is reflective of the diversity of Autistic people, whom do not all have the same skin tone as Temple Grandin or the child actor from “Parenthood.” Autistics of all hues are working to increase the solidarity of various groups within our community and to amplify the voices of those of us who are less represented, so things are gradually improving. But change takes time. In the large, multicultural city where I live, I can still easily pick my two Autistic children out in a crowd when we attend local autism events; clearly there’s still much more to be done.
Fortunately, an exciting Autism Women’s Network (AWN) project is underway that will highlight the voices of Autistic people of color. Edited by another AWN board member, Lydia Brown (a talented Autistic writer and blogger), the project – an Autism and Race Anthology – will fill a much-needed void and will help to make the discourse surrounding autism more inclusive of racialized individuals. I cannot emphasize enough how significant this project is.
Kassiane A. Sibley
6 September 2014
Knowing people who can relate to my Autistic brain: great and validating. Knowing people who can relate to being racialized: validating. Knowing people who grok being Autistic and dealing with racial issues? Priceless.
I want the next generation of Autistic kids who go looking in the library for stories they relate to to be able to find more than the autiebiographies and the doom and gloom books. I want them to see that, contrary to what the media will tell you, autism is not a neurology reserved for upper middle class white boys. They are not alone, even if they’re the only child of color in their class. I want their parents to feel less isolated, by reading things by people who have been where their child is. I want their professionals to have a resource for how things interact, how the autistic experience is different across cultures. I want something to touch that shows our diversity and our shared experiences.
Do you want that too?