Autism, bronies and being “woke”

I’ve never liked the term “woke“. It sounds like something you achieve once and well that’s it, you now are aware of all the struggles people encounter and don’t need to focus on understanding and compassion towards others who you disagree with because clearly, they are not “woke” like you.

I had a good reminder of this a while back. Someone I look up to greatly in terms of diversity and inclusion and who has first hand experience with a lot of the biases, the prejudices and harassment that people may endure made a comment regarding Bronies (Adult fans of the My Little Pony TV Show, generally male).

Something to the effect that Bronies were freaks or weird. I challenged them and mentioned I knew someone who was a Brony and that they were on the Autism spectrum. I also mentioned that while actual data is sparse, there seems to be many bronies who are on the Autism spectrum. (# #)

There are various theories as to why the correlation but one seems to be that people on the Autism spectrum appreciate how clear the emotions of the characters are. In a world where some struggle to understand human interactions the characters of the show are clear and understandable. They make sense.

I think my friend was taken a bit aback by the revelation that even with all her knowledge of the various struggles people endure she had just made a comment that could be taken as offensive towards an under-privileged group.

It was in a sense relieving for me, that even people who I look up to and who I would want to be as “woke” as could still make mistakes and still had things to learn about various groups and the privileges they may or may not have.

To be clear here, I don’t fault them for it. It’s just something that’s never been part of their life and has been a part of mine. And much like I have much to learn, I think it’s a good reminder that maybe if someone says something that is offensive or could be re-enforcing stereotypes or makes a comment that indicates they do not fully understand the day to day struggles of a particular group that they may not be malicious. They might not of had the experiences I’ve had or have had people who they are close to in their lives who have had those experiences.

I think it serves as a good reminder that when someone says something or acts in a certain way, that I shouldn’t start by assigning ill intent to their actions but rather have compassion and try to help grow their understanding of the issue. And that means that I don’t think one can, or should, believe themselves to be “woke” as it will have a detrimental impact on their willingness to learn, listen and grow as an individual.

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