Trigger Warning: Sexism, Ableism, Gaslighting (institutional), probably more...
For Gender and Women's Studies at the end, I had to write a "she-ro" essay (ugh I hate that name it's so corny.) And then I wrote it about Kassiane, aka Neurodivergent K. Who is super-radical. And kind of awesome. And possibly going to be embarrassed because I am gushing, but she said I could put this up so now you all get to see me gush about Kassiane.
Kassiane swears. I don't swear on this blog. (I do on Twitter and Tumblr, but not here.) I censored one letter from swears when I quoted her here, but you can still tell what she said.
Flash back to March 2012. I'm slowly entering online Autistic communities, and George Hodgins has just been murdered. People are calling it mercy and making excuses of his mother having killed him because of problems they didn't even have. I'm angry. I've been taught that anger is bad. It's not something you should broadcast. I don't yet know the extent to which people tame their portrayal of heroes- Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi are still people who were nice because they were nonviolent. Kassiane helped change that. I read her reactions: “My people are being slaughtered. Anger and hate is how people are supposed to respond to that” (You keep killing us, and I am PISSED.) Then I thought back to A Wizard Alone.
“It's not a good thing, not a bad thing, just what's so,” Millman said. “But you might want to think about what result this kind of emotion has produced in the past. Or might produce again in the future.” (Duane.)
I thought back on my own life. When I got angry, I made things happen. It worked. Kassiane's writing got me thinking in ways that led to creating my blog in April 2012- depending on what a person thinks of my activism, she gets a significant portion of either the blame or the credit for my turning activist.
Initially, I “knew” her as a blogger- I read the entirety of Radical Neurodivergence Speaking, and I eventually followed Kassiane on Tumblr. That's how we started talking, initially, and we met in person for a day and a bit in November 2012- our friendship has been almost completely online, via Tumblr, Facebook, Gchat, and reading (sometimes linking back and forth to) each other's Blogspot blogs.
I don't know as much about Kassiane's initial socialization as a small, cute, AFAB person, but I know the intersections she talks (and sometimes blogs) about now: In person, she will often ask: “If I was a foot taller & looked like a dude would this be happening? Ok let's pretend that's the case and move on" (Personal Communication,) though doing so has yet to make a person actually “pretend that's the case and move on.” When she talks, it's always intersectional. She's taken to saying “My activism will be intersectional or it will be bullsh*t.” She also types it. In the emergency room for adrenal failure? Kassiane will still talk about intersectionality- autism on her chart means incompetence gets assumed, and woman means “if I am not actively being mauled by a bear it's not necessarily really a real thing.” (And Then I Land Inthe ER Again...) At Geek Girl Con? Kassiane can tell you what was good: no creeps, so cosplaying is safe. She can point out what was at least better than most: still predominantly white, but there was more racial diversity than most conventions. She can point out the problems: no disabled presenters were mentioned, there were some access issues related to being directionally impaired, some presenters said problematic (sexist or heterosexist) things, and a person who used a wheelchair put strobey things on her wheels (access issue for photosensitive epilepsy.) (Geek Girl Con Reflections: TheGood, the bad, the WTF.) Skeptic communities? “The sexism is awful, and the way you try to blame it on people with my f*cking neurology is not acceptable.” (Skepticism's Ableism Problem.) Kassiane knows intersections because Kassiane lives them: she is Autistic; she is photosensitive epileptic; she has adrenal insufficiency; she is a small AFAB person who gets read as a woman; she is mixed-race. In winter, when I met her, she passed for white: had you put the two of us next to each other and said “One of these women is white and the other is mixed-race,” I think most white people would have pegged me as the mixed-race woman. In summer, she gets dark, and people can tell that she is, in fact, half Asian. That's when the racism comes in. Passing for white for part of the year and being a visible woman of color the other part gives Kassiane a very good perspective on how racism intersects with disability and gender.
I admire Kassiane because she knows how all the systemic patterns affecting her work, and she will call people out on their -isms. I admire Kassiane for the way she thinks: I remember her saying that she carries a wrench because if you pull out a knife someone will get stabbed, but a wrench will confuse people while being effective (I often carry bolt cutters.) I admire Kassiane because she is a walking, talking social media crisis: she chose that term for it because the Autism Speaks person who talked to her when they used her work without permission and got the attribution wrong had “social media crisis” in his title. She now has two shirts she has made to say “Social Media Crisis,” as it is now her title. I admire her because being a social media crisis gets things done. I know it gets things done because I do it too- she says she may need to make me a “Social Media Crisis” shirt, too. My exact method of crisis may not be exactly the same, since I seem to have become the Official Flash Blog Organizer for the Autistic community and she mostly seems to get her posts shared, but the fact remains: I learned a lot of my activism methods from Kassiane.
Duane, Diane. A Wizard Alone. San Diego: Harcourt, 2002. Print.
Sibley, Kassiane. "And Then I Land In the ER Again..." Web log post. Radical Neurodivergence Speaking. 15 Aug. 2011. Web. 26 July 2013.
Sibley, Kassiane. "Geek Girl Con Reflections: The Good, the Bad, theWTF." Web log post. Radical Neurodivergence Speaking. 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 26 July 2013.
Sibley, Kassiane. Personal Communication. 26 July 2013.
Sibley, Kassiane. "Skepticism's Ableism Problem" Web log post. Radical Neurodivergence Speaking. 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 26 July 2013.
Sibley, Kassiane. "You keep killing us, and I am PISSED." Web log post. Radical Neurodivergence Speaking. 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 26 July 2013.