Feature Issue on Self-Advocacy for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities
My Name is Justice
Moved by the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, self advocate Justice Killebrew wrote a poem and blogpost as his protest. In his article for Impact he shares more about what led him to advocacy and how he feels the effects of both racism and ableism.
I wrote my poem because I am directly affected by everything going on now. My father is a Black man who has experienced racial profiling by the police and we get looks from people or followed because we're Black. I get even more looks because I'm tall, Black and have autism. Yes. And we have a responsibility to always tell our truth and call out racism and inequality immediately if we are to ever expect change.
When I wrote it I was feeling tired. I was tired of seeing my people being killed and I was tired of everyone acting like this just started. My great grandfather was tied to horses and drug by the Klan. That was in the 1950s, not long ago. I was tired of seeing my parents and my sister hurting every time a Black man or woman was killed by the police. It seemed like they were upset at least once a week. I felt like I had a powerful voice and a platform and my parents always tell me to use my voice for good and to help people.
Sometimes they're paired together and sometimes they're separate. Sometimes they don't see my autism they just see me as Black, and sometimes they don't see me as Black, they just see me as incapable and incompetent. Either way, I always find myself trying to prove myself.
Self-advocacy is extremely important. It is one of the first things my parents taught me, they said no one can advocate for you better than you. I always try to educate through self-advocacy.
Autism is a part of who I am. I have a lot to deal with every minute of the day and sometimes I have a hard time controlling it all. It makes it hard if I happen to have a meltdown in public and people are staring and giving mean looks, I already feel bad because I can't control it but people make it worse. Also, sometimes because of all this madness going on it's hard to sleep at night so I may melt down thinking of how bad the world is and the lady upstairs stomps on the floor and complains to the rent office and that makes me feel sad because I don't mean to and I don't want to get my parents in trouble.
My name was just like my sister's name, they said let's say it at the same time, and at the same time they both said Justice. Her name is Jenesis.
I see my name being a household name.
I want to impact the world by showing everyone that every time you judge someone by looking at them, you miss your opportunity to associate yourself with greatness. Everyone has something to offer this world, we sometimes just have to have a little patience, kindness, and love to actually recognize it.
I put my heart to words because my voice matters!
I am a strong, proud, Black, nonspeaking young man who happens to have autism. I am learning to express myself with words. My words are my solidity! When I learned of the senseless deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I felt like a part of my innocence was taken.
Breonna Taylor is from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. I have seven aunts and Breonna could have been one of them!
I had some growing up to do in retrospect of what’s going on around me. Writing is my protest.
So are we still waiting with a song in our hearts?!
Hoping we make it back home to loved ones.
Not because I’m a police officer, not because I’m a person in the military. NO!
It’s because my skin is black, my frame is tall and I am considered to be a threat!
They want me to disappear!
So if I don’t leave they’ll do it for me, but I’m here and I’m not leaving! My Black Life Matters!
I move on a different frequency, yes a different rhythm.
Please don’t kill me because I’m different. I deserve a chance at a good life. My Black Life Matters.
Instead, celebrate me!
I’m a descendant of the people who built this country you worship, and the ground you freely walk and that flag you love so much that Betsy Ross stole the credit for.
My Black Life Matters!
How can you be so mad at me because I want to be free?!
Are you loving people and making hate an enemy?!
Let’s begin to heal one another by education and advocation.
Let’s drown out hate and flood this world with love because:
All lives Matter when Black lives Matters!
Blog post and poem reprinted from The Mighty, a digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities.