Category Archives: Autism Acceptance

Internet Trolling & (Autism) Acceptance

Internet trolling requires a commenter to manipulate the emotions of someone they cannot/never see. This often-used bullying tactic implies significant strategic planning. More sophisticated baiting tricks ignite a poster’s fears. Understanding how trolls make online traps – and how to diffuse their bombs – deserves commentary and its own supervillain (hero?).

While some persons with autism have delayed or minimal speech, we communicate in other ways. Technology allows us to communicate with each other more than at any other point in history. To help prove my point: Instead of simply typing a comment (below), would you otherwise have taken the time to hand write and mail me a letter? You can also contact me via Twitter @FaceValueComics, or Dave Kot on LinkedIn. See?

Trolls don’t care about an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), or autism. Ironically, trolls presume more competence towards an autistic commenter than some professional helpers. Trolls have two goals: 1) get your attention through emotional triggers, and 2) continue the discussion like a chess match. Surely, these master manipulators know their target is wounded, or emotionally compromised; they improve their odds of winning an argument or exposing flaws in another commenter’s logic. Trolls play dirty.

Soliciting anger is easy- just insert inflexible political or social observations in a comment section or during a family reunion. Never reply in anger. Our primitive (hippocampus) brain functions begin activating in a fight-or-flight response. When angry, our brain redirects language skills to action-based preparation, like tensing muscles. We aren’t our best selves when angry and literally can’t communicate no gud know mor. Instead, go for a walk. Identify what angers us before returning to the keyboard. Without first understanding our anger wounds, we willingly walk back into the fray.

Fear is a troll’s most dangerous weapon. The best trolls plant doubt in a commenter’s mind. Doubt undermines our presumed acceptance within the online community. Trolls don’t just tell commenters that they’re wrong, they insult them. Nobody should fear a polite disagreement, especially one supported with reasonable points of view. However, questioning one’s acceptance in the group is the troll’s best use of fear. This isn’t just autism acceptance- this is Lockean Social Contract Acceptance. We feel like we are part of an (online) community and abide by its rules, or accept living by ourselves as banned/deleted outcasts.

delete
We know what Broken Matt Hardy does to trolls’ comments, right? 

For example:

This blog post isn’t about internet security or identifying online child predators. Where I live, public schools teach that information in 3rd grade. If any of my illustrations made sense, I presume you’ve at least a third-grade education. Please, no comments about bad news about or in the internet. No, this article addresses how trolls try to get under our skin, and how to stop ‘em.

Let’s decode how I tried to troll you. My first statement was a fact. Reviewing what I wrote, one could defend my sentence. I planted a hook; something of fact or accepted fact. Already, you agree with me. Now, I start insulting you and pushing you out of the social group. “Where I live,” implies we don’t live together or near each other, ergo, we are out of the group since they had the last comment. They are still in the group since they are most actively commenting. To feel like a part of the group, we might defend ourselves, but out of fear. We often see comments borne of fear. These replies focus on a presumed insult or offense but ignore the meat of a discussion.

Next, I offer a veiled compliment: “I presume you’ve at least a 3rd-grade education” if you made sense of anything. Finally, I remind you of what you might not know about internet security or identifying online predators. Did you miss recent news about hacking? Is there a national search for an abducted child and kidnapper? What are you missing? Sheesh- if you don’t know, well…you’re not part of the group, whom you presume ALL knows the splashiest news you don’t know. Again, fear of unacceptance chokes us.

To defuse trollish fears, reaffirm your place within the group. ARE you unwelcomed if something I wrote didn’t quite make sense? ARE you out of our group if you’ve less than a 3rd-grade education? Does it matter where *I* live? Do trolls’ insults jeopardize your ability to be a part of an online community? When/if you answer these questions, our fear subsides and our position within the community grows stronger. We didn’t run away (the other biological response to threats was anger). We needn’t reply to trolls in fear; just because you see a trap doesn’t mean you should spring it. Walking away with self-confirmation diffuses this trap.

Lastly, we find contempt and disgust among the tools of a troll. These similar emotions typically inject sarcasm, but as a static comment. For example, “Good job!” In an of itself, this could be praise, too. Without inflection, tone, or context, words can be used sarcastically…or not. If sarcastic, what else was implied? Why didn’t someone like me? Am I still part of the group? It’s difficult to ascertain one’s intentions by just a short comment (even among other sentences). Therefore, we should simply accept the best possible impression of our commenters, absent of malice. Isn’t this same respect what we seek?

Wait- what about sadness? Can trolls make us feel sad? Unless trolls know us very well, they cannot sadden us. Sadness implies a feeling of regret and longing, which we impose on ourselves. Most trolls are mere passers-by along our journeys, so they know little about us that could sadden us. To make us feel sad, trolls would have to use some personally historic hook, which is unlikely. Trolls loathe sadness because it almost immediately disconnects the commenter from an argument. Sadness can replace other emotions if we finally believe we are out of the group which we wanted. We reflect on happier times, happier posts, and happier commenters, and feel sad to (mistakenly) believe we’ll never have those experiences again. We make ourselves feel sad, not trolls.

How do we explain emotional affirmation to children with autism? I think online acceptance is a challenge facing neurotypical children, too. In this instance, at least, we are united: we seek acceptance and reaffirmations of social rules and roles regularly. (Sally sells seashells by the seashore.) I have an answer about (online) social media acceptance: show ‘em, don’t tell ‘em. C’mon; I write comic books- whaddya expect?

TWizTravis Woo competes professionally in Magic: the Gathering card game tournaments. He’s graciously agreed to partner with us about online bullying. We’ll use his likeness and online persona to literally illustrate trolling and emotional traps in our comics. See, I believe Travis plays a troll online…the worst kind: Provocateurs. Since Travis is well-read and deeply philosophical, he seeks intelligent answers to creative comments. I think Travis understands how some provocative news generates attention. I also believe he is genuinely seeking answers to socially-uncomfortable questions at times. Make no mistake- he doesn’t censor himself.

Be Warned– Provocateurs almost always announce their intentions of fierce debate. Look at titles of posts and videos. Listen for sheepishly awkward commitment to the provocative statement or question. Master Trolls want a good discussion. To engage this character, be well-armed with cited facts and well-articulated opinions. Spell correctly. Quickly missing these basic rules dismisses your contributions to the group. Expect a minefield of emotional traps inciting anger, fear, and contempt. I’ve shown you how to defuse them. If you do, the Provocateur welcomes you back into the discussion as an equal. Again, the Master Troll weeds out weak participants and expects deep answers to their provocative statements. Enter discussions at your own risk, but sometimes Provocateurs offer new insights. I recommend simply reading about their journey without comment. Remember- everything lives forever on the Internet.

I look forward to collaborating with Travis as our story and characters take shape. While very direct, I respect Travis’ use of time. I choose not to take offense to his comments or questions because I honestly believe he seeks deep answers. In turn, he readily excuses my mistakes and brashness. I feel like he understands me, or at least what I want to do.

For example, Travis’ character will ask of the Zephyr: “I thought you had autism? Should you really be carrying a sharp sword?” Is he sarcastic? Is he well-meaning but cumbersomely blunt? His comic book character will reflect both aspects of Travis’ online personality. Additionally, the “Troll Wizard” studies alchemy. He commands an army of small trolls. These short homunculi beset the Zephyr. They try to inflict verbal injuries, using the basic techniques of trolls. How well does the Zephyr handle these strange new encounters? Is the Troll Wizard trolling him by leaving behind notes signed, “Much love, T.W.”?  Look for more to come soon from Face Value Comics!

Did I do a “good job?” Do you like to play games? For a chance to see sketches of the new comics BEFORE they go to print, please play along. Leave a comment to the Facebook page where this post originally appears. Reply with “Good Job!”     …without quotation marks, but with the one more exclamation mark than the last poster. One comment per person of this kind, please (read: don’t try to out-do yourselves with multiple posts). I’ll randomly select a commenter and contact them within one week of this posting.

Wanna Make a Comic Book? My Invite, Please RSVP

Are you                Yup, I’ve whitewashed this blog post with a secret message! We’re going

Ready?                 to play a game, too. What kind of game? Well, I already gave you a clue…

Grab your pencils, and let’s do this thing!

Have you ever seen a white raven? If you saw a dozen ravens, how many would be white? 100 ravens? 1000 ravens? Hempel’s Paradox highlights problems of understanding based on faulty observations. In turn, these observations skew our perception of reality. Despite our best efforts, you and I are unlikely to see an albino white raven living in the wild, but they DO exist.

Like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects a white raven.

I want to change this social perception. Pffft- I know next to nothing about birds, though. I do, however, have personal and professional understandings about autism, mental health, and comic books. In hindsight, that’s an odd set of tools, huh?

If you have autism or mental health challenges, YOU are my audience. I contend few of us are published artists or writers. When I wrote a simple comic book, I received a disproportionate amount of media and scientific attention. In my mind, writing a comic book as an autistic adult shouldn’t have been international news. I was a white raven in the minds of too many people.

Since it’s Autism Awareness Month, I want to acknowledge how many of us need and still seek positive affirmations from family, friends, loved ones, and society in general. One way we may accomplish this is to do something spectacular and unexpected.

Let’s make a comic book(s) together.

(As much as my health permits me,) This week, I’ll be posting some submission guidelines. First, I want to make something crystal clear: I don’t care about an “official” diagnosis. I won’t be asking you for health or insurance information to “prove” yourself. I like you just as you as are, and encourage you to be your best self. Be kind. Be mindful. Be well-read. Be considerate of others’ points-of-view.

My goal is to help build up the confidence and self-worth (not ephemeral ‘self-esteem’) of the next generation of comic book artists and writers. To this end, I’m proposing a comic book anthology of short stories made by our audience at Face Value Comics. Our team will provide editing advice, tips to overcome writers’ block, and content suggestions for no financial charge. I envision a comic book of ?? pages, with art and stories by other “white ravens.” I want the unseen to be seen. I want those of us with autism and mental health to grow as budding professionals deserving of recognition for our talents and attempts. We acknowledge how comic books are a multi-million dollar industry so our collective efforts may become more than idle busy work.

So, is this something of which you’d like to be a part? Please openly share this message with other social media channels. We welcome input and content from like-minded friends. The world already knows me. Let’s use this recognition to open doors for other new talents.

Oh- here’re my initial thoughts of the project:

  1. Pick a real-life historical “culture.” Examples may include, but are not limited to- British Knights, Celts and Vikings, Aztecs, Maori, Maasai, and more. How “historic” is historic? How about this idea: a high school student should be able to write an informative research paper about this group with citational references. In other words, don’t give knights laser guns (yet).
  2. Pick a fictional challenger(s) found in classic literature. Again, some examples include dinosaurs, robots, ninjas, aliens, pirates, vampires, etc. NOTE: “Zombies” are not found in the classic literature; they’re out of scope for this project. Sorry, not sorry- ask Kirkman if he’s doing anything like we propose, if zombies are your groove.
  3. All content must fall under suggestions found for PG-rated movies.
  4. Our team will assemble a good sampling of the content, based on artists’ attention to the initial directions (above). Submissions will fall under ONE PAGE, TWO PAGES, and FOUR PAGES of sequential comic book art.
  5. Next, we invite writers. They will interpret the visual art and craft a story based around it so our heroes win and tell a good story. Again, we will provide editing, suggestions, etc. free of charge.
  6. We’ll collect these stories into an anthology comic book graphic novel and release it as professionally-published content.
  7. “Compensation” and financial discussions must wait- that topic deserves its own post. Actually, so do most of these initial guidelines. Well, at least you know what’s coming later this week, eh?

I’ve been told to mention that Face Value Comics is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization; we can accept donations. I’m leery of this point, though; I won’t be bullied into publishing someone’s content based on a financial donation.

Today, my doctor gave me some not-good news. Rather than whine or beg for sympathy, I ask for your help to distract me from it. Let’s fight social stigmas. Together, let’s make something magical and build stronger skills…to show ourselves to the world how we are MORE than our diagnostic labels.

I hope the world stops defining me/us by what I am NOT, but rather who I AM.

TL;DR: I’m inviting persons with autism and mental health challenges to help make an anthology of short comic book stories.

Gearseeker Serpent & Autism Acceptance

What does autism acceptance look like? Will we need a celebrity proclaiming it via social media? Will an elected official – someone who is not autistic – pass legislation mandating said acceptance?

Playing a collectible card game (and my friend, Trav) helped teach me something new about autism acceptance. Please don’t become distracted by too many details of this collectible trading card. Gearseeker Serpent means something to us as autism advocates.

gearseekerserpent

Copyright/Trademark Acknowledgement: Everything about GEARSEEKER SERPENT belongs to Wizards of the Coast, except my interpretation.

Apparently, I can summon this creature faster if I have help; specifically, lots of artifacts lure him into play. I doubt I can play this card on my first turn of the game. How about Turn Two? Is Turn Four reasonable, or too late? I begin to deconstruct the perfect scenario in which I see Gearseeker Serpent devouring my opponent. Now, build to this goal.

Here’s our lesson about autism acceptance, from Gearseeker Serpent:

BEGIN WITH A VISUALIZED GOAL IN MIND.

What is “autism acceptance” to you? What may have happened to encourage others’ acceptance? Will you need help? How much help do you think you’ll need, and when will you need help? Deconstruct the perfect scenario in which you feel most accepted, and identify those incremental steps towards tolerance. Now, built to this goal.

Without specific goal setting, we may lose focus. We might fail to acknowledge necessary early steps towards our goal if we only focus on the END GOAL. Others will liken us to some Greek Myth, whereby we gluttonously demand more acceptance, while ignoring acceptance growing around us, forever self-tormented. Stop demanding global, ephemeral autism “acceptance,” and develop your goals towards that result. Cultivate strategic planning, ask for help, and autism “acceptance” will happen.

Otherwise, Gearseeker Serpent and the weight of unfulfilled should-isms threaten to crush us individually and collectively. Please share your specific examples of autism acceptance goals in the comments, below.

Why we’re angry, dear Rosie…

Dear Ms. Rosie O’Donnell:

More than a week passed since we last chatted, albeit one-sided, about autism advocacy. Our fans wish you roaring success with your upcoming performance, and hope you are well. If people read anything more recent about you, I think many would be alarmed by the outpouring of hate directed at you regarding your armchair diagnosis of Barron Trump. We needn’t add fuel to that fire. Instead, I’m offering insight as a fellow rights activist and (self) advocate.

If people are angered by your lack of credentials to offer a diagnosis, I think their anger is misplaced. If people dislike you because of your own open identity, we aren’t likely to solve homophobia in this blog post. More importantly, I’m not sure you – or anyone who flippantly diagnoses someone with autism – understands the real damage.

You betrayed us, Rosie.

Within the autism community, many of us struggle with implied, unwritten social cues. However, most of us grew up and learned about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Rosie, you broke that rule.

Spin your dialogue. Would you appreciate someone from the autism community saying another person was obviously gay because of how they look for thirty seconds? Even if that person’s experience and vigilance within the LGBTQ community would lend some credit to observations, is it anyone else’s right to out them as gay? If this approach is not okay with you, why is it okay for you to do something similar?

Hypervigilance with your own daughter’s autism diagnosis may lend you small credit, to recognize symptoms. Being good at computer work or mathematics makes someone autistic as much as (insert LGBTQ stereotype, here) makes someone gay. We fight hard to correct social misperceptions; please don’t add more misdirection.

We could presume you have nothing but benevolence towards a man and his family. Refresh my memory: is this the same man and his family whom you battled on Twitter during the Presidential Election this year? Do you doubt Barron Trump will have the absolute best medical care as the son of the United States President-Elect? Do you think you know better than a physician, Rosie? You act like you do.

…and that’s why people feel anger. May I offer a solution? Tweet how your intentions were born from compassion for a young person. Start a discussion about his father’s lack of understanding about autism, and the need for more openly autistic legislators and representatives. Share how you may have mourn(ed) Dakota’s lost potential following an autism diagnosis; we’ll understand and work through this very common grief with you. Invite more advocates to work with you, and stop making our advocacy work harder in 140 characters or less.

Let’s have tea next week, okay?

Be well and break a leg,

Dave Kot

Re-introductions

“Who am I? Why Am I here?” – Admiral James Stockdale, 1992 Vice-Presidential Running Mate

This quote seems appropriate for me. For several months, I’ve been noticeably absent from social media. Friends and family have given me space and support. Still, I needed to address some things, and share some of those things with you now, in no particular order:

  • My father had a stroke and subsequent heart surgery, and he continues to recover.
  • Due to some health concerns, I’ve been battling lingering effects of at least one concussion sustained in a fall(s).
  • At a holiday celebration, I had to advocate about autism acceptance because,
    • A young man rejects his autism diagnosis because he believes himself “too smart” to have autism, and
    • (Too) many (family) members treated a young lady with autism like Lenny, from the book “Of Mice and Men,” when she wanted to play with new kittens; no kittens were harmed.
  • I’ve reviewed a LOT of internet chatter and direct inquiries about the comics’ utility, including inquiries about its academic merit and curriculum suggestions.
  • We’re in a state of growth, including adding new writers, artists, and equipment like a phenomenal printer.

What does all of this mean for you, as fans of the world’s first-featured comic book hero with autism? Stay tuned, because I will begin to break-down how these events have galvanized my resolve. I promise to be honest with you even if I don’t know what direction to take.

Follow me. Walking arm-in-arm for advocacy suggests a patient pace, right?

EFFECTIVE AUTISM (SELF) ADVOCACY, PART TWO

B.E.A.S.T. Training, Part 2

Most online autism advocacy resources provide basic information about autism and/or links to connect with social service providers.

My blog post identifies the most important resource for your loved one (or yourself) with autism:

YOU.

Nobody else can easily adopt your role with the never-ending compassion, hope, and love you hold. No artificially-inserted, government-appointed care provider will be as invested as you. We must better address the needs of front-line defenders to ensure the longevity of autism (self) advocacy. Today, I cannot tell you the BEST autism resource link. I offer no cures for autism. I will only tell you what works best for my family and me: self-care.

Do you feel safe? How can we expect great strides in advocacy or development without this basic human survival need in place?

Do you feel wanted, welcomed, or loved by somebody? How can we expect good outcomes without love guiding our decisions?

Do you feel successful? How can we expect to move forward if we feel trapped or overwhelmed?

We cannot be effective autism (self) advocates without sharpening our SaWS: SAfe, Wanted, Successful. These three feelings will unconsciously direct our advocacy efforts.

Here are some culturally-biased examples:

I doubt any American would have written about lion poaching on September 12, 2001. Americans needed to feel safe before advocating for anything else.

I doubt many writers would have written about school-based inclusion during World War II. We needed to feel welcomed and valued before advocating for anything else.

I doubt any American would write about college tuition or lending reform challenges before their teenage child with autism learns to read. We need to recognize and appreciate successes in any form in order to build future successes.

Let’s be better autism advocates by sharpening our SaWS.

Let’s agree to be kind to each other. We can create a positive social change by leading with solid examples. Please consider these ideas for use whenever you feel ready. Some examples have stages of accomplishment to match a busier schedule.

Fire Chief Faust, from Face Value Comics
Fire Chief Faust, from Face Value Comics

CALL TO ACTION:

This weekend, check and/or replace the batteries in your home smoker detector. Charge or re-charge a household fire extinguisher. Inventory your baking soda or flour for accidental grease fires. Draw a map of our home with realistic exits and meeting places for an emergency. Identify any potential barriers that sensory-processing challenges may present to an alarm, new sights, new smells, etc. Consider contacting your local fire fighting teams and introducing your family and addressing their special needs. Practice a family fire drill with escape times under ten minutes, then five minutes, then as fast as you can safely escape and meet together.

These collective steps help build a safe environment. These activities help us show our love and value of other people in our family and community. These suggestions, at whatever piece you can complete, build real successes about our future hopes and plans. These ideas help us

Be Effective Advocates with Social Temperance: Be a BEAST!


ARE YOU FOLLOWING US?

This week, members of our non-profit organization met with the collective body of Police Chiefs in York County, PA. With our friend Trish IIeraci from Providing Relief for Autistic Youth, we offered our local policing authorities additional training about autism (and facial feature recognition). We want our community to appreciate, not fear, its autism residents. Can you name any other comic book team who met and helped advise county police chiefs about autism?

Welcome to Philadelphia, Jahlil Okafor!

Last month, the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) held its annual draft selection. This event had nothing to do about autism advocacy.

The Philadelphia 76ers made the third overall lottery selection. This event had nothing to do about autism awareness.

When 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie chose Duke Freshman Jahlil Okafor, fans booed. This event has a LOT to do about autism acceptance.

phillyselectsokafor

To the best of my knowledge, Jahlil Okafor is NOT autistic, nor has any publicized ties to autism. He doesn’t need these connections to understand his uphill battle for acceptance in Philadelphia. Everything he does for the 76ers will be magnified unfairly under a high-powered microscope. Fans do not presume competence in Jahlil Okafor while most of society presumes no faith in autistic individuals.

Despite leading a collegiate championship team at Duke University under Hall-of-Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski, fans won’t accept ANOTHER tall (6’10”) player to their roster. Forgive me, but aren’t tall people usually welcomed to play basketball? Didn’t the 76ers win the 1983 NBA Championship with their twin towers of Julius Erving (6’7”) and Moses Malone (6’10”)? Wasn’t Okafor a powerful offensive weapon, capable of scoring 20+ points and/or rebounds in a game; aren’t these skills that translate well into a professional sport like basketball?

dunk

Instead of asking questions about how the Philadelphia 76ers will use Okafor’s talents, fans automatically feel disparaged by the team management. For years, owners encouraged outright failure in order to secure top lottery picks to unearth new talent. Now, they have some of this coveted ability with duplication and opportunity. Yet, nobody trusts ‘em, and that distrust becomes disproportionately shelled at a ninteen year-old rookie.

Okafor will earn and likely spend millions of dollars by the end of the year, paid to him by a team that distrusts him before donning a uniform. Among all of my personal friends with autism, we won’t likely crest above the average poverty level with all of of incomes combined. A disliked Okafor will have a palatial residence, while many individuals with autism peacefully and quietly exist on the fortunes of their families and friends for as long as humanly possible; only one-in-ten autistic adults find meaningful work. Fans cannot presume competence in Jahlil Okafor or the Philadelphia 76ers, so neither starts with success in mind. Similarly, our struggles for acceptance hinge on society presuming more competence. In the (near) future, Okafor could request a trade to a team who wants his talents. He could sign as a free-agent and earn MORE money or a chance to contend for a title. For autistic individuals, where do we go when society really doesn’t want us? How receptive to being integrated should we be, when we fear electrocution-as-therapy, earn less than minimum wage dollars for unimportant work, and face disproportionate unemployment statistics? Why does society tolerate negative media campaigns about how autism destroys jobs, marriages, and families? Why do scientists seek a genetic “cure” for autism without telling us what will remain after their so-called “cure?” Why do people desperately reach for bleach as a drinkable cure for autism unless they gravely fear the myths about autism?

The problem facing Jahlil Okafor is the same problem facing autism acceptance: lack of presumed competence. Nobody has faith in the team managers’ abilities to use talent. Nobody has faith in Okafor’s own perseverance or maturity into a powerful basketball presence. Nobody has faith in at least three tall men being able to win basketball games.

In autism advocacy, too many professionals presume no competence in autistic individuals: we cannot use the telephone to call home from school during a difficult day; we cannot carry a volunteer position without constant supervision from support staff who seemingly know less about autism than we do; etc. Like Jahlil Okafor, many people with autism have exceptional talents and are presumed incompetent or a poor fit for their business. This mismatch has nothing to do with individual abilities, but is an artificial organizational barrier created by misinformation and misunderstanding.

Like many with autism, Jahlil Okafor must fight for acceptance. He must prove doubters wrong, and thrive in a place that doesn’t seem to really want him. There is almost nothing short of an NBA Championship to quell doubt. For individuals with autism, there exists no easily-substituted Holy Grail to grasp. We walk around with invisible disabilities, but when we do something close to good or “normal,” we get pitiful praise. An alarming percentage of our fans treat me like a show-dog at comic book signings. Some feel happy that the poor autistic man wrote a big book, yes he did. Who’s a good boy? You are, Dave, you are a good boy. Some fans introduce themselves as “high-functioning,” in an odd way to build familiarity. Instead, attempts to align with “normal” by using “high-functioning” automatically throws “low-functioning” individuals under a bus. Am I supposed to like you MORE because you appear more “normal?” Will you wear a t-shirt boasting your IQ to avoid further comparisons to “low-functioning” individuals with autism? How do our peers in other minority communities respond- do people talk about their cancer diagnosis by disparaging another form of cancer? Obviously, we can celebrate fluidity in gender and marriage, but cannot accept racial self-identification any better than we can accept identity-first language without harsh criticism. In the absence of real-world awareness, acceptance, and compassion, I invented a fictional world within our comic books to show at least one positive alternative.

championship

Jahlil Okafor won’t find acceptance in Philadelphia for a long time, until his business world dismisses what they think he CAN’T do and focus more on what he does well. Individuals with autism won’t find social acceptance until we find more patience and tolerance to develop our skills in contributable ways. Okafor will win ANOTHER championshp, this time in the NBA, before my friends or I find traditionally-meaningful work, where our abilities and talents are celebrated naturally within a well-suited organization without forced-fabricated “acceptance.” Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong, but unless you’re offering me a suitable “normal” job, then I reaffirm my claims and will rabidly root for Jahlil Okafor and the Philadelphia 76ers in the meanwhile.

GO 76ers! GO 76ers! GO 76ers!