Wordgathering, June 2018
Michael Northen writes:
Even in the relatively new field of disability literature, it has become very unusual for of a book to be the first of its kind, but Lydia X. Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu’s All the Weight of Our Dreams can make that claim. Subtitled “on living racialized autism,” this hefty anthology gathers together the non-fiction prose and poetry of autistic people of color.
The title of Onaiwu’s preface to the book, “Autistic’s of Color “We Exist…We Matter” sets up the keystone around which the anthology is structured. While some anthologies set out to prove that the writers included deserve a place in the literary world, the editors of All the Weight of Our Dreams follow in the tradition of John Lee Clark’s Deaf American Poetry, in allowing the work to be a raw assertion that the writers whose work they feature are out there and have something to say. The result is that the volume’s bulk is an important statement in itself and that it is the collage-like effect rather than any particular theme that creates the voice.
[. . .]
In the meantime. All the Weight of Our Dreams, is a huge achievement. In her foreword to the book, Ashkenazy says, “I strive to define my unique experiences and have my voice heard.” By gathering together the multiple voices of autistic people of color, this book has provided that opportunity for an entire community. It has also brought to light the names and work of many writers who might not otherwise have received recognition that could jump-start them into other possible achievements. One can only hope that others reading the book will recognize the waiting talent and help to extend those opportunities.
Disability & Society, May 2018
Marianthi Kourti writes:
This anthology is a collection of essays, blog posts, poetry and artwork that aims to shed some light on the experiences of autistic people of colour. The writers and editors are all autistic people of colour and they seem to be situated in different countries, although most of them seem to reside in the USA and Canada. All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialised Autism adopts an intersectional approach (Crenshaw 1989, 1991), attempting to cover the various aspects of the lives of autistic people of colour.
[. . .]
Admittedly, All the Weight of Our Dreams has been an incredibly hard read at times. Containing many essays that explicitly discuss violence as it is experienced by disabled individuals of colour, this book includes some of the writers’ biggest worries and fears, when they are forced by very real, explicit violence. One only needs to read Onaiwu’s conversations with her children as a black autistic mother of black disabled children about violence and how to keep safe to get but a glimpse of the oppression and fear those communities are living under (145–147). Despite being a difficult read at times (for the right reasons), I really appreciated the fact that the writers presented the raw, emotional reality of their everyday lives and presented them to us so we can get a more insightful view of their experiences. It is that vulnerability that makes statements such as ‘We talk about intersectionality in our identities, in our organising, and in our writing so often. It is time to move from talk to accountability’ so poignant, as they underline the very real need for this effort.
Strange Horizons, January 2018
Samira Nadkarni shares:
Midway through 2017, I challenged myself to read more non-fiction as, while I read a lot of academic non-fiction for work, I often eschew it in my spare time. I decided to pick up at least one non-fiction book of my choice per month and it’s been eye-opening. [. . .] The collection All The Weight Of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism (2017), edited by Lydia X. Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, is frankly incredible. I was particularly struck by the sections about classroom politics and the chosen editorial process of the project, the latter discussing the importance of critical thought over formal construction.