Black Girl Lost Keys

No Time To Confront Racism In Neurodiversity

It’s Black History Month, the one time per year where you would think talking about blackness wouldn’t be super controversial. But for some people, it’s an issue year ‘round. We talk about fragility all the time. What we don’t talk about as often is how many people are jealous when anyone besides them gets attention. 

Unable to tolerate not being the center of attention

There’s always someone around like this. You know them, the person who takes their toys home because they aren’t winning the game. The person who hurts the birthday boy/girl because they’re the center of attention. The person who will stop at nothing, including lying, cheating, and stealing, to get their way. Those are all nasty behaviors that many of us grow out of. But not all do, and they grow into adults who do even uglier things. 

I talk frequently about how white spaces for the neurodiverse are. And people nod their heads sagely and agree with me because they know it to be true, even if they don’t necessarily know what to do about it. They talk about how communities of color need to be on the scene more and how badly they are wanted in the conversation. 

The dark side of neurodiversity

What people don’t customarily talk about, is the dark side of what that means for people of color coming into spaces for the neurodiverse. I’m constantly telling people that we get attacked for the most benign reasons in these spaces. That the attacks are vicious and seemingly come out of nowhere. 

Everyone usually gets confused when I say that. 

They ask what I mean, how that could happen, and why it would happen. I find myself frustrated by those questions, because it implies there is a logic to racism where none exists. Logic is rational thinking. Racism is hatred. There IS no logic in racism. You can’t rationalize it because hatred doesn’t require and rarely has a reason.

If we delete it, did it really happen?

The other fun thing is that in online spaces we have the ability to pretend things never happened by deleting them. Usually, once someone gets called out for their racist behavior, they start deleting because the last thing they want is PROOF of their racism. Racists don’t mind being racist, they’re comfortable with that. They just don’t want to be held accountable for their racism.

So usually, this means that there is no hard example for me to show when I try to describe these attacks. Unfortunately, an example came my way last evening. I say unfortunately because I shouldn’t have to get attacked by a latent racist to prove what I’m saying is true, but here we are. 

About last night . . .

Last night I was in a group I frequent, responding to some comments on a post I made earlier that day when this woman decides she just HAS to say something. And she says quite a lot. I’d describe it, but you really have to see it to believe it. 

Here’s the very innocent, not even race related post that I posted. Not that talking about race would have justified her reaction, but it certainly would have provided an explanation:

It’s a post with a simple message. ADHD Symptoms In Adults Aren’t Character Flaws. A message that applies to all adults with ADHD. So what prompted this response in the comments is still a mystery to me:

Racism doesn’t have a preferred FB group

I told some friends about this last evening, and everyone wants to know what group it happened in. They want to know so they can troll it, or avoid it. Here’s why I’m not going to say which group it happened in. 

1. Trolling won’t fix anything, it’ll just inspire more people to behave worse than they’re already behaving. 

2. The name of the group doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because it happens in so many of them. I don’t want you to know the name of the group because the last thing I want is for you to feel like you’ve avoided the problem by avoiding a particular corner of the internet. You can leave one space, but human behavior will follow you wherever you go. 

3. Even if you were a member of the group, the comments were erased to protect the racist. Her actions exist only in my screenshots because keeping the peace was more important than protecting me.

Removing the comments is to remove accountability. Racists love that.

I bet you’re wondering why those comments would be removed. You’re probably thinking that it would be foolish to remove the evidence of someone’s bad behavior, especially such a vile and unprovoked attack. You probably would think that removing it would also be removing the proof of the viciousness, the better to manipulate and gaslight the person on the receiving end into pretending that what happened wasn’t as bad as they remembered them being, right?

No need to worry; as usual, the comfort of people too cowardly to have the conversation was prioritized. People who fancy themselves progressive HATE to have uncomfortable discussions about race. They hate anger and unpleasantness more than they hate the suffering that other people have to endure to accommodate their comfort. 

The admin response

Now the incident itself was terrible and frustrating enough on its own. But I reported those comments to the admin because foolishly I thought that when someone is racially attacked, it might be time to take a stance of some sort to let the group as a whole know that it was seen, it wasn’t ok, and it won’t be tolerated.

I reported the comments directly to the admin instead of FB because I believed them to be the best people to handle the job. People who understand neurodiversity but know this intolerance is unacceptable, right? I just knew the admin would address it and reach out to me.

Instead, this is the message I got almost 12 hours later.

Nevermind the racist attack or who saw it. No, there was not going to be an attempt to offer comfort or reassure me of my safety in this place. But I AM welcome to stay there, contribute and take the abuse with no support.

Is there really no time?

So let’s be clear here. We have time to address self-promotion. We have time to address OTHER rules. But when it comes to racism, we have no time. 

I am so tired that I could close my eyes forever and it wouldn’t be enough rest. 

This is why we need spaces of our own

This is why groups like The Unicorn Squad exist, and why I refuse to let anyone besides Black women in it. This is why Black people want to see Black therapists. This is why we so frequently seem like we distrust people before we’ve even known them 30 seconds. Because THIS was an encounter with a stranger, and it isn’t an uncommon one for neurodiverse Black people. If you don’t believe me? Ask them. Ask them how many times they’ve had to deal with some random person latching onto them and digging their heels in, continuing with their campaign of harassment until they’re blocked or until they are ejected from the space you’re occupying. 

Do you want to know why there aren’t more people of color speaking about their experiences with ADHD? Because this is how they get treated when they do. I know how badly you want to believe that this is just one bad egg. It isn’t. You don’t believe me now . . . but go ask around. 

So to the group that thinks they can have my conversation and my energy, yet refuses to protect me from their racist members, the answer is no. I won’t be creating conversations there. I will not be instructing and teaching and pouring my knowledge into people who can’t even open their mouths to say that speaking to me as though I am subhuman is completely out of line and that NO person of color needs to be addressed in such a fashion ever. 

You’re not the only one who hasn’t got time.

Until next time,

René

While you’re here still: Doing a fundraising drive to keep BGLK going. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to head to Patreon or the store, or grab a book bundle while they’re on sale (see below). As you can see, there’s still much work to be done.

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10 thoughts on “No Time To Confront Racism In Neurodiversity

  1. Admin Translation: The idea of reaching out to confront racism freaks us out so much we just delete the comments. Both-sides-ism means we had to ping you, that’s a clear cut problem that doesn’t activate our white fragility.

    The “solution” doesn’t make any sense. Hell, did they ban that person? It doesn’t seem like it, even though, if they were looking for a non-racist reason to ban, they could have picked “Park your RSD in a corner and act like an adult” which is insulting as hell to everyone in the group.

    ANYHOW I love your essays and posts and have found them invaluable to me, a white woman who got her ADHD diagnosis late in life.

  2. THANK you, René. I find, in fact, that you are generally quite gentle with white people who often say foolish things in your conversations and you’re generous with them, giving them the benefit of the doubt. I don’t have a platform of my own, but I promise I’ll keep bringing these things up because it is ridiculous for you to constantly be the only one beating this drum. You’re courageous and so incredibly valuable.

  3. Whoo, I need to sit a bit before I can form the words.

    This is such an instructive and valuable piece, but dang it comes at an unacceptable cost. Thank you for walking us through the experience many miss.

  4. Holy hell, René. I appreciate your sharing this and educating those of us who didn’t know how virulent racism is in these spaces (although it should not be a surprise). I want you to know that I am acknowledging your experience and that I’d believe you even without those shitposts that you screenshotted. Now I’m even MORE glad that I signed up for your Patreon earlier this month so I can offer some concrete support for your work.

  5. Hi René! I have a question, would you please remove this group from your links section(s)? I think I just entered that same NO LINKS!!! FB group and got kicked very rudely Out for attempting to link science-based articles.

    1. Hi Dana, the group described in this article has never appeared as a link on Black Girl Lost Keys, so you weren’t thrown out of it. Sorry to hear you weren’t treated well

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