Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Zisk, Alyssa Hillary. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Zisk, A. H. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Thursday, January 23, 2014

T-21 Blog Hop: Social Justice

IRONY UPDATE: One of the things that inspired this post was an Autism Speaks fail that I thought was over and taken care of. The day after writing this, I find out it's not actually over and that Autism Speaks are white-texting liars and also put the white-texted toolkit back up. Story here.

Today, I'm talking about a social justice issue that probably a lot of you don't think of as social justice or as related to disability. But it is. I'd describe it as "cite your sources," but it's not a full MLA or APA or Chicago citation that we necessarily need as a justice thing. Frankly, making my own citations of those kinds is a cognitive access issue for me, so I either use an automatic generator or get someone else to do my citations. But the idea of saying where you got the ideas you're using and building on? Yes, that is a social justice issue.

So. Here's the part where I talk about why.

Advocacy comes with innovation. People need to figure out what it is in their situation that needs to change, and they need to figure out how to change it. People are coming up with new ideas- that's what innovation is. When people neglect to list where they got these ideas from as they build on them, there's a few things that happen. (Links Democratizing Innovation and my post about the book, because relevant.)

First, people tend to forget where the ideas actually came from. When we're talking about technology stuff like in Democratizing Innovation, that means corporations don't know which customers came up with the ideas.

Then they forget that it even was customer who came up with the ideas. They think they came up with the ideas themselves.

Now the big group probably has control over the idea and thinks they came up with it, but they didn't!

This applies with advocacy things too, sending credit for ideas up the power gradient- how did Queer Rights stuff start up in the USA? It wasn't about marriage for people of the same gender. Trans women of color started that up, predominantly Black trans women. Today the face of this sort of advocacy is white gay men, and the T for trans that started this movement tend to get ignored. There are people in those movements who legitimately think it was white gay people who started it.

In disability stuff, parents of kids with disabilities generally have more power than people with disabilities do themselves. (Less so if the parents are also disabled, even less if they're openly so, and there are some organizations that make sure to give their power to Disabled people to try to combat this, but overwhelmingly it's parents who get listened to. Check the readership on blogs if you don't believe me.) Within disability, the image we have is usually a young white boy with whatever the disability in question is. Sometimes it's not, but that's the usual. A white man with the disability is probably going to get listened to more than someone who isn't a white man and has the same disability, or than someone who has multiple disabilities. There are a lot of power differentials. Access to academia is one of them.

When we fail to cite/link/acknowledge where our ideas are coming from, we wind up erasing our sources. This can cost them opportunities for authorship and scholarship and other things that can help with being not impoverished. Poverty is a big issue for marginalized groups, like, you know, people with disabilities. People also sometimes act like a group doesn't really exist, which can get into an ugly cycle with this: the idea can't have come from them because they don't exist, and we know they don't exist because they don't come up with ideas! So we ignore the ideas they came up with (or pretend they came from someone else), maybe we'll come up with the idea that they can't think. Wait, that's already a disability stereotype. It'll just get worse.

So yes, if you're building off an idea someone else wrote about, say so. Give enough information that people can find what the person wrote. Since this is the internet and most of us are bloggers reading other bloggers, link it! Links are good! They drive traffic to the people you linked, which is good for plenty of reasons, including social justice type reasons when you're linking disabled bloggers. Boosting the voices of people from the groups you want to help is a big part of how you do allyship.

Oh, and a note for the folks who think citations and copyright law and such are evil and bad: that's great, if you want to tell the world that they don't need to cite you go ahead and do that, but if you enforce that "no citations" rule on others, that's not OK. You might be couching it in the language of justice, but if you're erasing the marginalized folks who came up with these ideas, it's still helping oppressors. And yes, this applies to ethnographic stuff and sociological stuff, if you're talking to members of a marginalized group about their experiences and one of them tells you they don't want to be anonymous, you listen. Enforced anonymity erases scholars who are members of the groups being studied, and that's unacceptable. (Offering anonymity is still important- it's enforcing anonymity that's a problem.)

Also, creative commons is kinda cool and probably has a license that will keep some big corporation from taking your work and making it proprietary like happened to the work of a bunch of MIT coders and which still lets people use your work in the ways you want them to be able to use it.

This was for the Down Wit Dat T-21 Blog Hop.

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