Personal Story

Feature Issue on Disability Rights, Disability Justice

We Stand and Fight


Mary Ayetey is a writer with autism who has self-published and whose work has been included in several books published by Cow Tipping Press ( in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

I keep a lot of journals and write a lot of poetry, mostly about justice, dignity, and inclusivity. One of my poems is called “Travel Pathways,” and it’s about my fantasy business plan to make travel accessible to all people with disabilities who are in transition programs after high school.

A woman with black hair, shaved on one side and shoulder-length on the other, wearing a brightly patterned shirt, looks straight ahead. She is not smiling.

The author, at a meeting with Cow Tipping Press. Photo by Connie Burkhart.

The poems selected here are about disability justice and standing up for ourselves. Writing them helped me recover from my own trauma. In my teens and early 20s, I was attacked and bullied many times. This work is about saying we’ve got to fight back. I deserve to be treated with respect. I don’t care if you’re Black, Latino, Muslim, Māori… you have to treat people with respect. I think my sense of justice comes from having a dad from Ghana, and being interested in folktales, myths, legends, and stories from around the world.


It was Christmas last year. I thought I wanted cookbooks for Christmas, but instead I got pepper spray.

It just looks mysterious and so strange. I’ve got to use it carefully, leave it at home, and not let anyone know about it. It’s no toy it’s no prank it’s a test it’s self defense my stepdad says “emergencies only” he said emergencies only.

I was walking in the woods out at night. There was a strange guy stalking me and I turned around and pepper spray them. Then I ran off and call for help looking shocked. A future stepmother came up asks her “are you okay what happened?” I was calm saying “this guy tries to follow me” it was made out of red fire and it burns like red fire the guy burns like redfire.

from No Need for Stinking Maps, Cow Tipping Press


My life sucks because of my disability. This was my first day of high school. I dressed goth. I thought I can try out goth but I notice no one wants to be my friend, I ended up being name called bullied afraid, no one wants to be my friend, and I was unable to drive or bike to school I was alone in next step and it turned out to be they want to start drama and not want to be my friend I was unable to communicate with people I trust because I didn’t have my flashcards with me back then, my parents were divorced.

When I was five I had a brother who is older and he was an introvert. Andrew and I used to play but I notice these kids won’t let me play with them. I was sad alone not finding any friends. Well actually I was doing better things like read books and color doing research on stuff but my first PCA is very very disrespectful on my boundaries. Now I got friends and a better life and I got someone I really trust.

from May Your Worries Become Like Weeds, Cow Tipping Press


I don’t want your lies. I want the truth! You need to treat me like a lady. I don’t want to live in fear.

We stand and fight. We won’t take no for an answer. I don’t run and hide saying it’s not my problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white, Asian, Latinx, or Muslim. We can all get along.

What if there is nothing I can’t do?

from Aliens in the Group Home, Cow Tipping Press