Updated: Apr 20
Contributor Curtis M. Brown II, HNIC Editor-at-large
I don’t really get the chance to say this too much on the show but I have a really dope little dude for a son. Beloved Master Hannibal; Lord Spuddington in his Granddad’s realm here in PA, and Prince Hanni-Banani where his Grandma and Pop Pop reside to the South. Here at home, he’s Mommy and Daddy’s Little Bear; cuddly and sweet but also ferocious and surprisingly fast at times. If you’ve seen even one episode of HNIC you’d know that he gets that ferocity honest.
He’s also on the Autism spectrum.
I could use a lot of medical jargon to try and get you to understand the intricacies of the disorder. Or I could try outdated metaphors to clue you into the little nuances that make his Autism different from that one other Autistic kid at your child’s school. I’m not going to do either. I like to save all the technical terms for his doctors, teachers, therapists, and support staff and if I'm telling the truth you guys, I don’t want words like “mixed expressive-receptive disorder” to be how you think of him.
In this country it’s a fact that minority children don't get the privilege of being children as long as their white counterparts. I was seven months pregnant when Tamir Rice was murdered by police and I almost fainted when I saw it on the news. Some years before that, Trayvon Martin was beaten and killed for walking while black. My brother Khalil was about the same age as him at the time.
My cousin just lost her one and only child two days ago to gun violence. I let my son sleep in my bed with me last night just so I knew he was safe.
In a way, all POC parents share the one common fear of whether or not their children will be safe when they go out into the world. We all hope that you don’t just look at the color of their skins and immediately choose violence. As an autism parent this concern is magnified by a thousand because my son isn’t regular black; he’s black with special needs.
He needs patience because he can’t always answer your questions right away or even maintain a normal conversation. If he’s overwhelmed or severely underwhelmed, he’s liable to just run off on his lonesome and might not come back when you call him so you need to be quick to catch him. I’m so scared someone will try to hurt him because Hannibal yelled at them to stop singing because he hates singing that’s not prerecorded.
As we go forward into this Autism Awareness month, I can only hope that people will remember to be kind. POCs and neurodivergent adults and children, we are all different; but not one of us is less. When you look at my son, by all means, see the color of his skin but I beg that you also see his sweet smile, listen carefully to his “Yoda” talk (complete with fake British accent) and please share your fruits and french fries. As a family we are doing our best to prepare him for a world that won’t care about him, but like Lorax says in his book, unless we have people in our communities who care a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Let’s stand together this April in solidarity and march forward toward a better future.
(This month HNIC is featuring our Awareness Avenger T-Shirts and Hoodies to raise money for Programs and Charities that support those who deal with Autism and their families. If your will to join our Awareness Avengers head on over to our march section and "Assemble")