Autistic Future
March 1st, 2020

Disability Day of Mourning 2020

DDoM is here again, and it’s always a strange day for Autis­tic peo­ple well-versed in Autistic/Neurodiversity Move­ment cul­ture who don’t live in close prox­im­i­ty to fair-sized pop­u­la­tions of Autis­tics who share the tra­di­tions that come with those things, includ­ing observ­ing DDoM. My clos­est vig­il is in Boone. I have a car. I could afford the gas. In the­o­ry, I could get there, but noth­ing about the six hour round trip feels appeal­ing today. I’m tired from my reg­u­lar life, the one where I spend the bulk of my time with peo­ple who don’t have the strong dis­abled iden­ti­ty I do and may not even qual­i­fy as ADA dis­abled. I decid­ed, instead, to feel a lit­tle guilty about stay­ing home and a lit­tle iso­lat­ed observ­ing the occa­sion among peo­ple who don’t.

Away from any kind of pub­lic cer­e­mo­ny, I have found myself with time to think about what DDoM means. On its face, it’s a chance to remem­ber the peo­ple lost to fil­i­cide. all very vul­ner­a­ble and killed by peo­ple they loved, trust­ed, and knew, many to most very young. All the deaths are heart­break­ing, but the loss of chil­dren is espe­cial­ly so. Our world was their birthright. As they were robbed of their lives and futures, of the trea­sure of get­ting to expe­ri­ence human exis­tence ful­ly, across the lifes­pan, we were also robbed of the chance to share it with them. They deserved bet­ter, and we did, too. It’s impor­tant to remem­ber them, the chil­dren, the adults, the ones who had their time stolen while they still had more liv­ing to do, their lives more than their deaths as much as pos­si­ble. Indi­vid­u­al­ly, as peo­ple, they deserve it. Mur­dered by the very peo­ple in their lives who would nor­mal­ly be expect­ed to mourn their deaths, many of them don’t have any­one out­side of our com­mu­ni­ty to remem­ber them and wish they were still here. If we adopt them as our loved ones and count them among our com­mu­ni­ty’s ances­tors, they are, in some sense, still around.

It’s also impor­tant to remem­ber them col­lec­tive­ly, to remem­ber why they died, because they were vic­tims of ableism. Their mem­o­ry serves as a reminder of ableis­m’s log­i­cal con­clu­sion, why we must always stand up to it, and that the Neu­ro­di­ver­si­ty’s rad­i­cal promise of every per­son­’s full human­i­ty and legal and human rights is the only way to go. We need to remem­ber where com­pro­mis­ing on the rights or wel­fare of the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ty to pro­tect or improve the lot of peo­ple who are per­ceived as “high func­tion­ing” or more ful­ly human tends to lead. Indeed, we need to remem­ber that death is the fruit of every form of big­otry. The suf­fer­ing our com­mu­ni­ty has expe­ri­enced should lead us to be good allies in oth­er peo­ple’s strug­gles to be safe and free.

All that said, I hope we can remem­ber the vic­tims of fil­i­cide, and read the grow­ing list of names, but also look beyond them. I hope DDoM can also be a time for reflec­tion on every­one swal­lowed up by the insti­tu­tions, past and present, peo­ple stuck con­trol­ling and coer­cive fam­i­ly sit­u­a­tions, vic­tims of abuse and neglect, liv­ing and dead, Autis­tics who are des­per­ate­ly poor, and the holes in our com­mu­ni­ty where peo­ple chased out of our spaces on the inter­net, or, worse, dead by sui­cide or eat­ing dis­or­ders should be. I hope we can remem­ber every Autis­tic per­son cut off from us or forced into a life small­er and less than it could be.