On November 3rd, 2021, BASS held a virtual launch where a panel of black parents shared their journey as they navigate the intersection of race and autism. We discussed everything from diagnosis, impact to family dynamics, family support, and mental wellness. Participants chimed in sharing their need for community, lack of support, and the long waiting list for Medicaid waivers and respite care. For one hour we found ourselves in a rare community...a community that understood the pressure and hardships of raising a black child in America with the added layer of autism. We laughed at each others experiences, not based on humor, but based on shared experiences and in some cases trauma. As black people in this country we make every effort to help our children through the obstacle course designed to ensure they will fail, a course that is lined with unjust policing practices, the school-to-prison pipeline, systemic racism, and more.
Less than two weeks after the launch we learned of a 10 year-old black girl with autism who committed suicide after being bullied by her peers. We learned that the mom had been battling with the school district to take action to no avail. It was a harsh reminder of how loving and vulnerable our children can be, how they don't always long for inclusion, but just to be treated with kindness...how we as parents want society to see our children as fully human and worthy of dignity, protection, and justice. This is why we advocate, educate, and challenge the narrative. This is why we push for change and refuse to be complacent and silent. This is why we boldly speak for those who will not or cannot not speak for themselves. Why...because their lives and futures depend on it...and because they are worth the fight.
...and what does the Lord require of you...but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 NRSV)