I loved Nickelodeon. I loved that network. Words could not encompass how much I loved them. There were days where I would honestly watch that one network all day as a kid. It was an amazing experience.
When I heard that Nickelodeon purged thousands of people’s complaints on Facebook who were airing grievances about their support of Autism Speaks, I was disappointed. It took me a while to find the words that could show my massive dislike and disgust for that act.
The reason why it took me so long to write this is because, ultimately, I don’t think that it would matter much. Nickelodeon is a powerful network supported by powerful people and organizations and one that, more often than not, has the free choice to silence and invalidate whomever they please.
This fact does not escape me.
It is a theme I have noticed too often in governments, political parties, and corporations: that a voice and their suffering only matter to the powerful when the ends justify the means or fit a narrative that suits them. If it doesn’t, it’s ignored, deleted, invalidated. No matter what though, don’t talk about it! Don’t bring it up! And no matter what, vote for them, trust them, buy their things, and watch their programs!
In closing, Nickelodeon was aware of the complaints and didn’t have to listen. When a powerful company, government, or organization is aware of your suffering and voluntarily doesn’t have to care, they only demonstrate how little awareness actually does to change anything or even appeal to them.
I will forever be grateful for them showing me that acceptance is needed now more than ever, even though it is difficult and hard to obtain.
- Poetry: AuDHD - November 9, 2022
- A Letter of Support - July 14, 2022
- The Performance of April and Autism Awareness Month - April 27, 2022
This goes to show that capitalism is never on our side.
The thing about corporations. They have boards of directors. Often these boards are unaware of things that the corporation are doing, but can be deeply embarrassed by those actions. Here are three ideas of people on the Nickelodeon board who might be willing to ask questions from above about this matter.
If you do choose to contact these people please do so calmly and politely. They probably have no idea about this issue, are likely passionate about the Nickelodeon brand and children’s education. They almost certainly view themselves as good people doing something good by helping Nickelodeon. If they get bombarded with nasty messages they will think that maybe we are the problem.
Very polite notes which are respectful may get you somewhere.
Something like (and I hope that someone who has deeper understanding of the issue than I do will be able to improve on this, I’m just guessing at what it really should say):
“Dear X, I see that you are on the board of Nickelodeon, and this makes me believe that you share my love of this network and its programming. Your commitment to the board clearly shows that you are someone who is passionate, and your chosen profession suggests that you care about doing the right thing. I am writing to you as an autistic person. Many of us are smart, articulate, self-supporting members of our communities. Most of us feel that while it poses challenges, overall our autism is a strength which allows us to contribute in ways that others cannot. We are distressed that the best-known and best-funded charity working in the autism space, a group called Autism Speaks, seems to only represent the parents of children with autistic traits that may prevent them from living independent lives. Sadly, Autism Speaks is hostile to the views expressed by actual autistic people. Worse, they have a stated goal of ‘curing autism’ which means that people like me would never have a chance to be born. We see Autism Speaks as a hate group that wants to practice genocide on us.
I bring this to your attention for two reasons. One is that Nickelodeon is a sponsor of Autism Speaks. I believe that this was likely a well-intentioned interest in supporting a charity working in the autism space. I would like to humbly request that Nickelodeon redirect its charitable giving to one of the many organisations that feature autistic people on their boards, and focus on making the world easier to navigate for us. I would be happy to provide suggestions of such organisations.
The second reason is more disturbing. A number of autistic people have posted messages on Nickelodeon’s Facebook pages speaking against support of Autism Speaks. I acknowledge that regretfully some of these messages may not have fit the tone of typical messages on Nickelodeon’s sites. Nickelodeon’s response has been to delete all of these messages without offering rationale or showing any interest iin understanding the pain behind those messages. Perhaps it would be more useful if we could assemble a small group of autistic people who could provide for the board an explanation of our grievance and proposals for alternative charities to support.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could help us help the board make a better-informed decision about how to best support autistic people.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.”
People could try writing to Nikki Finney, who is on the Nickelodeon Board of Directors (although her term ends this year). As an artist perhaps she will be receptive to the idea that Nickelodeon should do better.
Xavier Blake, who is a producer for educational TV in South Carolina might also be receptive. On the board until 2021
Then there’s Elise Partin, mayor of Cayce, SC. As an elected official she might not be happy to have her town attacked as having a mayor who supports hate groups. She’s on the board until 2021.