Dear multiracial autistic teens,
Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Is belonging something you’ve tasted but never drank fully. Did you have it when you were very little, only to lose it once everyone around you started dividing themselves by race and ability and more?
Me too. Even now, long after secondary school and post-secondary school, I sometimes wonder why it seems I never belong. As a Black multiracial queer autistic woman, I am often confused by other people. These other people have somehow managed to fit into boxes. In those boxes, there are even more people, seemingly just like them.
I sometimes feel like I’m in my own box, all by myself.
In order to fit into someone else’s box, you may feel the urge to see yourself in a black-and-white manner. Personally, I mean that both literally and figuratively. I received pressure to behave “normally,” or else I was labeled a “freak.”
From as early as eleven-years-old, I was asked if I racially identified more as a Black person or a white person. Never was there an option to be my authentic self neither in personality nor as my multiracial identity.
I have light brown skin. So, my “exotic” body was labeled racially Black.
I like heavy metal music. So, my “weird” music taste was labeled racially white.
I have naturally curly, oily hair. So, my “unique” hair was labeled racially Black.
I play RPG video games. So, my “nerdy” hobby was labeled racially white.
I enjoy stim dancing. So, my “hyper” dance moves were labeled racially Black.
I had few close friends, almost none of whom stuck around for more than a year. I was awkward, unsure how to engage. My interests and body did not fall into a category that others could understand.
I am neurodivergent and multiracial. My brain is different. My body is different. My cultural background is different. In middle school and high school, different often means not belonging.
I cannot change my neurodivergence. I cannot change my multiracial identity.
The truth is: I don’t want to.
I don’t want to pick a race. I don’t want to choose between normalcy and authenticity–although I do choose authenticity because I don’t really know any other way, but then I don’t always feel like that is a choice I get to make, especially when safety is at stake.
I don’t want to change. I grew up with parents of different races. Because of this, I can often see the root of racial conflicts in a different way. I grew up autistic, without supports, and fighting assimilation. Now, I can share just how damaging a life without supports and understanding is for the many autistics out there who need true inclusion.
But even more, being different is not wrong. My uniqueness doesn’t need fixing. I refuse to conform to boxes for the sake of others’ comfort.
Different, not less.
This mantra applies to so many parts of me. These many parts of me make me whole.
In my wholeness, I am content.
It is only others’ ridicule that knocks me down.
I have met other neurodivergent and/or multiracial individuals who feel the same. In these communities, I have found the people who help me to stand whenever I have fallen. Our unique perspectives are powerful. Just like all others, we are inherently valuable as we are.
Hopefully a day will come when those who encompass multiple identities will no longer need to go through pain in order to see from multiple perspectives. But to the multiracial autistic children who don’t feel like you belong, please know:
- You are not alone.
- Your choices are yours to make.
- The future is ours to build.