I was watching an Australian woman’s video on a new paradigm for autism and was finding it interesting. At some point, she was talking about how information got passed along in an informal way. She said, “As we say, and this is probably problematic, it’s a game of Chinese whispers.”
My brain slammed shut and I could not hit the X button soon enough to close out the video. I was not expecting casual racism in my video about autism, and I was not down with it, thank you very much. In addition, it was doubly frustraton because she realized it was something that she probably shouldn’t say as she specifically noted it would probably be problematic, and then said it, anyway. That’s the part that really iced the cake for me. In addition, she could have easily just called it the whisper game and explained what it was or as we call it in America, the telephone game.
What she did not have to do was call it the Chinese whisper gome (and why is it Chinese in the first place) without a whiff of discomfort.
In the year of our endemic, 2024, this is just unbelievable. The video was fairly recent–certainly in this millennium. It underlies the fact that just because someone has something that is a minority in one way and suffers for it, that doesn’t make them automatically empathetic to others in the same position. It also shows how within dominant cultures, they can forget that racial minorities can also be, say, autistic.
Side note: Everyone loves the Maintenance Phase podcast and talks about how brilliant it is. I have listened to three episodes, and I’m underwhelmed. Not only beacuse I find it pretty basic, but also because it’s very much for white people. Which is fine. White people need help, too. But the fact that they briefly acknowledge that there are different issues for people of color does little to make me want to actually listen to the podcast.
Intersectionality was something I was aware of even before I knew the word for it. It stemmed from a selfish reason–I never saw me in anything. This was why I started writing fiction, by the way. I was going to be the change I wanted to see!
When I was in middle school, my world history teacher asked us what we wanted to learn about. I said Japanese internment and the Taiwanese/Chinese conflict. He said that we didn’t have time for that, which really annoyed me. Why bother asking then? The same happened in college in my feminism in philosophy class. I mentioned racism, and she said we did not have time to talk about it.
I’m sorry. I cannot put my race on hold while focusing on my gender. Thats’ not how life works. Again, if she wanted to say it was white feminism in philosophy, she should have said that. This was in 1992, so three decades ago. Sadly, I have not found it to have changed much in the meantime. Yes, there is awareness of more issues, but it’s still in discrete containers–and none of them include me.