Black Autistic Lives Matter

Courtlon "Champ" Turner

Champ Turner

Courtlon "Champ" Turner

Father · Barber · Volunteer · Wrongfully Convicted

Champ is a loving father and a Black barber who was a staple and integral member of his community. He is known by everyone as gentle, selfless, humble, wise, and intuitive.

Champ served as the best man at his friend’s wedding. They were extremely close, but one day his best friend was experiencing extreme paranoia. Champ tried to support his friend through this mental health crisis, but when he took a call from his girlfriend, his friend believed that Champ was on the phone with the FBI to “snitch” on him for selling knock-off purses and shoes. He attacked Champ with a butcher knife, they struggled for several minutes, Champ finally was able to break away, then he dialed 911.

When police arrived, they arrested Champ instead of the white man who attacked him. Champ was charged with aggravated malicious wounding, a class 2 felony equivalent to first degree murder. He’s serving ten years for being attacked by a white man.

Champ has congestive heart failure and is an undiagnosed autistic man with undiagnosed PTSD in a prison. His case has striking parallels to Matthew Rushin’s: they are Black autistic men from Virginia Beach who were criminalized by the Commonwealth Attorney and Virginia Beach Police for having a disability.

We are calling on Governor Ralph Northam for a pardon for Champ Turner. Self defense is not a crime. Being disabled is not a crime. Being autistic is not a crime.

Dear Caribbean Autistic Teen,

“Our desire to stim? We use Soca, Bachata, Dancehall, and Salsa as a cover, allowing the rhythm to put out the fire we have in our brains. And thanks to our Caribbean cousins and siblings, we learn how to be style icons.”

An Open Letter to Multiracial Autistic Teens

Lauren Melissa Ellzey is multiracial and autistic. She always felt that the world divided her into what was Black or white, autistic or not. She encourages mixed race autistic teens to see and embrace their whole authentic selves.

A Letter to Black and Indigenous Autistic Teens

Wolfheart Sanchez is Black and Native American, and he writes a letter to Autistic teens about how the lack of representation is harmful, but they can build the community they need to feel less alone.

The Performance of April and Autism Awareness Month

April is essentially a cash grab. April is a soapbox for well-meaning organizations and corporations to bank on us. We’re the inspiration porn, the example to strive for, the burden to be eased that’s big money to them.

Note to your younger self: Invisible magic

“Little Black Autistic Girl, what will the world do with you? Will they forget you? Will you go down in history as an overlooked and unsung hero that deserved more recognition while they were around?”

Dear Fellow Black Autistic, Your Autistic Experience Looks Different,

“From picking your afro because the motion is soothing, to twerking and playing with your braids, to repeating that one itch-scratching line in the rap song you love over and over again… It’s the way that you put on lipgloss even though you just put it on three minutes ago because the motion is soothing.”

Dear Caribbean Autistic Teen,

“Our desire to stim? We use Soca, Bachata, Dancehall, and Salsa as a cover, allowing the rhythm to put out the fire we have in our brains. And thanks to our Caribbean cousins and siblings, we learn how to be style icons.”

The Performance of April and Autism Awareness Month

April is essentially a cash grab. April is a soapbox for well-meaning organizations and corporations to bank on us. We’re the inspiration porn, the example to strive for, the burden to be eased that’s big money to them.

Note to your younger self: Invisible magic

“Little Black Autistic Girl, what will the world do with you? Will they forget you? Will you go down in history as an overlooked and unsung hero that deserved more recognition while they were around?”

Dear Fellow Black Autistic, Your Autistic Experience Looks Different,

“From picking your afro because the motion is soothing, to twerking and playing with your braids, to repeating that one itch-scratching line in the rap song you love over and over again… It’s the way that you put on lipgloss even though you just put it on three minutes ago because the motion is soothing.”

Dear Caribbean Autistic Teen,

“Our desire to stim? We use Soca, Bachata, Dancehall, and Salsa as a cover, allowing the rhythm to put out the fire we have in our brains. And thanks to our Caribbean cousins and siblings, we learn how to be style icons.”

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